RCMP quietly outlaws more firearms
Hundreds more added to original 1,500 weapons
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.