RCMP qui­etly out­laws more firearms

Hun­dreds more added to orig­i­nal 1,500 weapons

Calgary Herald - - FRONT PAGE - JESSE SNY­DER

OT­TAWA • The RCMP has qui­etly out­lawed what ap­pears to be hun­dreds of ri­fles and shot­guns over the past month, adding to the list of 1,500 firearms al­ready banned by the Lib­eral gov­ern­ment on May 1.

The list has been ex­panded with­out public no­ti­fi­ca­tions from ei­ther the RCMP or the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, rais­ing con­cerns among gun sell­ers and own­ers that they could have un­know­ingly bought, sold or trans­ported il­le­gal firearms in re­cent weeks. The re­cently banned firearms have all been deemed il­le­gal retroac­tively, as of May 1.

The new list also in­cludes a num­ber of sin­gle-shot and semi-au­to­matic shot­guns, and at least one Rus­sian-made pump-ac­tion, de­spite re­peated claims by Public Safety Min­is­ter Bill Blair that Ot­tawa’s sweep­ing ban would not in­clude guns used for bird hunt­ing.

The RCMP did not re­spond to ques­tions about how many firearms it has added retroac­tively to its Firearms Ref­er­ence Ta­ble (FRT) since the be­gin­ning of May. The FRT serves as the of­fi­cial ref­er­ence for what firearms are il­le­gal un­der Cana­dian law. The RCMP des­ig­nates firearms as le­gal or il­le­gal based on its in­ter­pre­ta­tion of Ot­tawa’s reg­u­la­tions, which were up­dated on May 1 in an ef­fort to ban mil­i­tary plat­form ri­fles like the AR-15 and AR-10.

A data set com­piled by the Cana­dian Sport­ing Arms and Am­mu­ni­tion As­so­ci­a­tion (CSAAA), shared with the Na­tional Post, suggests that at least 320 ri­fles and shot­guns have been added to the orig­i­nal list of 1,500.

The Na­tional Post in­de­pen­dently ver­i­fied 200 of the firearms in­cluded in the list, all of which ap­pear in the up­dated FRT, but not in Ot­tawa’s ini­tial Or­der in Coun­cil.

A spokesper­son for Blair said the gov­ern­ment is “con­sid­er­ing op­tions” for how it can make the list of banned firearms more avail­able and trans­par­ent for firearms own­ers, re­tail­ers and man­u­fac­tur­ers.

“We con­tinue to work with the RCMP to en­sure that the public Firearms Ref­er­ence Ta­ble is up­dated as quickly and as thor­oughly as pos­si­ble to re­flect changes that were brought in that day,” Mary-liz Power said in a writ­ten state­ment.

Blair de­fended the sweep­ing pro­hi­bi­tion in early May, after some con­fu­sion emerged over whether some 10- and 12-gauge shot­guns could be in­cluded in the ban, due to a pro­vi­sion that out­laws any firearm with a bore di­am­e­ter greater than 20 millimetre­s.

Blair tweeted on May 5 that those claims were “ab­so­lutely in­cor­rect” but did not up­date the ter­mi­nol­ogy in the reg­u­la­tions. The RCMP later posted guide­lines on its web­site that seemed to sug­gest shot­gun bores would not be mea­sured in a way that would out­law them.

The RCMP’S up­dated list, how­ever, does out­law a num­ber of four-gauge shot­guns un­der the 20mm pro­vi­sion, in­clud­ing the We­b­ley & Scott Wild Fowl Gun, a bird-hunt­ing firearm; the sin­gle-shot Duck Gun made by W.W. Greener, an English man­u­fac­turer; and the ob­scure Rus­sian-made TOZ, among others. A num­ber of other 12-gauge semi-au­to­matic shot­guns are now pro­hib­ited un­der the new FRT.

Ot­tawa’s May 1 reg­u­la­tions banned 11 types of firearms, which ini­tially en­cap­su­lated roughly 1,500 types of gun vari­ants.

The reg­u­la­tions broadly out­lawed “as­sault-style firearms,” which many ob­servers called an ar­bi­trary dis­tinc­tion. Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau jus­ti­fied the ban by say­ing it tar­gets firearms de­signed to “kill the largest num­ber of peo­ple in the short­est amount of time.”

Re­cent up­dates to the ban in­clude some Western-style sin­gle-shot shot­guns that need to be loaded one at a time, as well as high-cal­i­bre ri­fles used for the ex­plicit pur­pose of killing a sin­gle tar­get at long range.

Ali­son de Groot, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of the CSAAA, said the vague pro­vi­sions within the Lib­eral reg­u­la­tions act as a catch-all that could con­stantly keep firearms own­ers in the dark about the le­gal sta­tus of their guns. Ot­tawa has de­clined to pro­vide de­tails as to when the FRT up­date could be com­plete.

“It’s at their dis­cre­tion, which means we have no as­sur­ances, ei­ther as busi­nesses or firearms own­ers, about what is al­lowed,” she said. “Be­cause their dis­cre­tion is wide-rang­ing.”

She said the retroac­tive ad­di­tions point to the hasty as­sem­bly of the reg­u­la­tions. The CSAAA has been call­ing on Ot­tawa to com­pen­sate re­tail­ers and dis­trib­u­tors by up to $1.1 bil­lion, after the ban left small busi­nesses sit­ting on massive piles of in­ven­tory that can no longer be sold. Sales in many stores have ground to a halt as own­ers strug­gle to nav­i­gate daily changes to the pro­hi­bi­tion list.

“I’ve never seen any­thing like this, in any coun­try,” said Wes Winkel, owner of On­tario-based Ell­wood Epps Sport­ing Goods.

Winkel says 22 per cent of his in­ven­tory is now un­sellable due to the Lib­eral ban, and new ad­di­tions to the pro­hi­bi­tion list have only deep­ened the con­fu­sion. The Turk­ish-made F12 Typhoon shot­gun, for ex­am­ple, is now con­sid­ered il­le­gal un­der the re­cent up­dates, while the nearly iden­ti­cal Derya MK12 made by the same com­pany re­mains non-re­stricted.

“We’re at a point now where it’s be­come so non­sen­si­cal that we’ve just started to pull in­ven­tory,” Winkel said.

In a let­ter to Blair last week, the On­tario Fed­er­a­tion of An­glers and Hunters (OFAH) warned that il­le­gal firearms “could have been used, trans­ported, trans­ferred or even at­tempted to be im­ported” due to the late clas­si­fi­ca­tion of hun­dreds of ri­fle vari­ants.

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