Province outlines plans for its own firearms governance and enforcement

The Government of Alberta is establishing the Alberta Firearms Advisory Committee to provide recommendations on how Alberta can better assert areas of provincial jurisdiction while respecting law-abiding Albertans’ long history of responsible firearms ownership.  

To further improve firearms governance in Alberta and crack down on their illegal use, the government is also establishing a provincial firearms examination unit to speed up testing of guns that have been seized as evidence in criminal investigations.

“The federal government has introduced hasty and ill-thought-out measures that penalize law-abiding gun owners while doing little to stop criminals who traffic or use illegal firearms,” said Jason Kenney, Premier.

“The vast sums of money Ottawa will spend would be far better used to pursue the smugglers and drug gangs that plague our society. In Alberta, we will take action to protect Albertans, prosecute criminals and deter illegal gun crime and trafficking rather than persecuting law-abiding citizens.”

Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General said while Ottawa spends hundreds of millions of dollars targeting law-abiding gun owners, the Alberta government is investing in a firearms examination unit to conduct criminal firearms testing so prosecutions are not put in jeopardy by lengthy delays.

“The measures we are taking today will show Ottawa that a responsible firearms policy targets criminals and illegal gun traffickers and not lawful gun use.”

Alberta Firearms Advisory Committee

The Alberta Firearms Advisory Committee will be chaired by Michaela Glasgo, MLA for Brooks-Medicine Hat, and will have representation from groups that speak for a wide range of lawful gun owners, including farmers and ranchers, hunters and trappers, and shooting sports enthusiasts.

The committee will give Albertans the opportunity to voice their concerns over the federal government’s firearms legislation and provide recommendations on how provincial policies can best target criminals while respecting law-abiding gun owners.

“We need firearms policies that recognize and support the ability of Albertans to own and possess firearms in a lawful and responsible manner,” said Michaela Glasgo, MLA for Brooks-Medicine Hat.

“I am pleased to chair the Alberta Firearms Advisory Committee to ensure our government develops policies that reflect the values of Albertans.”

Rick Hanson, committee member and former chief, Calgary Police Service said community safety is a vital concern for all Albertans.

“It is critically important to protect our communities from the crime and violence associated with the unlawful possession and use of firearms while at the same time protecting the lawful rights of hunters and responsible gun owners.”

Alberta Firearms Examination Unit

A legal requirement for prosecuting gun crimes involves proving that a seized weapon meets the Criminal Code definition of a firearm by having a barrel and the ability to fire a projectile capable of causing serious injury or death.

While the Calgary Police Service (CPS) carries out this testing in its own facility and the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) is establishing a lab of its own, most police services in Alberta rely on the RCMP’s National Forensic Laboratory Services in Ottawa to fulfil this requirement with a straightforward test-firing procedure.

In the fall of 2019, data indicated it was taking an average of eight months for the national RCMP laboratory to process a routine firearms testing request from Alberta.

To prevent lengthy court delays from putting the prosecution of violent criminals at risk, Alberta is ending its reliance on the federal laboratory by establishing a provincial unit to perform tests on firearms used in crimes.

Alberta ending reliance on the federal laboratory by establishing a provincial unit to perform tests on firearms used in crimes. Click To Tweet

Justice and Solicitor General is working on a plan with its partners at CPS, EPS, RCMP and Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT) to establish a team and protocols for conducting firearms testing at the existing lab in Calgary and the forthcoming facility in Edmonton.

Advisory committee members:

  • Michaela Glasgo, chair, MLA for Brooks-Medicine Hat
  • Todd Loewen, MLA for Central Peace-Notley
  • Shane Getson, MLA for Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland
  • Rick Hanson, former chief, Calgary Police Service
  • Teri Bryant, associate professor, University of Calgary Haskayne School of Business
  • Bob Gruszecki, president, Alberta Hunter Education Instructors’ Association
  • Phil Harnois, gun shop owner (P & D Enterprises) and 25-year Edmonton police veteran
  • Gail Garrett, vice-president, Alberta Federation of Shooting Sports
  • Lynda Kiejko, member of 2016 Canadian Olympic shooting team
  • Andrew Blundell, vice-president, Canadian Historical Arms Society/Genesee Range
  • Linley Coward, co-owner, Bullets and Broadheads Range in Grande Prairie
  • Nicholas Lui, competitive shooter and Canadian Armed Forces veteran

Starting May 1, Trudeau said license gun owners will no longer be allowed to transport, import, sell or use these sorts of rifles in Canada.

In November 2019, the Alberta legislature unanimously passed Government Motion 41, which stated: Be it resolved that the Legislative Assembly recognize and support the ability of Albertans to lawfully and in a responsible manner own and possess firearms and to engage in permitted activities involving the use of firearms, including but not limited to hunting and sport shooting.

Peter MacKay, Federal Conservative party leadership candidate promised to “undo” the current Liberal government’s planned gun confiscations against hunters, sport shooters, and rural people if he is elected prime minister.

“Whatever they do, we will undo. The safety of Canadians will be enhanced by putting criminals behind bars, not harassing law-abiding citizens,” he said in a tweet Jan. 28.

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-Photo by Ulf Akesson

-sarah.murphy@albertapressleader.ca

Sarah Murphy/Alberta Press Leader

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