MLA fires challenge at PCs over 'shadow gun registry'
Wildrose say PC government needs to better protect gun-owner's rights, while minister shoots back terse reply
Lac La Biche-St Paul-Two Hills MLA and Wildrose Justice and Solicitor General critic Shayne Saskiw is taking a shot at the ruling PC government by challenging their so-called “soft stance” on protecting gun-owner’s rights.
Last week, Saskiw and the Wildrose released a statement proposing that Alberta should provincially appoint their Chief Firearms Officer (CFO) — an RCMP position that oversees gun licensing in each province — which currently falls under federal jurisdiction.
The release came in the wake of the controversy created by some CFOs, including the one in Alberta, requiring gun shop owners to keep records of rifle and shotgun purchases—what the Wildrose are calling a de facto ‘shadow gun registry.’
“This is akin to the wasteful long-gun registry that was rightfully scrapped by our friends in the federal government,” Saskiw told the Post. “We believe Albertans have been loud and clear in their opposition to any kind of long-gun registry.”
LONG-GUN REGISTRY SCRAPPED IN APRIL
The mandatory long-gun registry was scrapped – and all records ordered destroyed – by the federal PCs in April of this year, after costing over $1 billion since it was introduced in 1995.
Since the allegations came out that some CFOs were asking gun shop owners to keep records of unrestricted firearms purchases, RCMP Commissioner of Firearms Bob Paulson issued a statement that explicitly banned the practice.
“I instruct all Chief Firearms Officers to ensure that the licensing conditions you impose on business records pursuant to the Firearms Act do not facilitate the creation of long-gun registries in your jurisdictions,” commissioner Paulson said in the May 10 statement.
Still, Saskiw said the Alberta PC government should push to have CFOs provincially pointed—like Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, P.E.I and New Brunswick currently do—which would make them accountable to Alberta’s Solicitor General.
“Though our ties remain strong with the current federal government, we believe it is important to ensure interference by Ottawa bureaucrats does not become common practice in future years,” Saskiw said.
PCS SHOOT BACK
However, Alberta Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Jonathan Denis is firing back at the Wildrose. He said that historically, Alberta’s Progressive Conservative government has been a staunch opponent of any kind of long-gun registry—even taking the matter to the Supreme Court of Canada in the mid-1990s.
“I strongly disagree with [Saskiw’s] comments,” Denis told the Post. “Alberta simply does not and will not have a long-gun registry in any form. I don’t know how much more emphatic we could be—we’ve been fighting it for 20 years.”
The PC government have not said they will push to have CFOs appointed provincially, with Denis saying the federal government has already said loud and clear they will not tolerate anything resembling another long-gun registry in any form.
There is still a mandatory registry for restricted weapons, including certain handguns and semi-automatic firearms, as well as firearms that can fold to lengths less than 66 centimetres.
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