Yesterday at a stunning press conference, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, flanked by Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and Minister of Justice David Lametti announced the immediate change in classification of 1500 firearms (as well as the inclusion of certain long distance rifles and what amounts to extremely rare and unusable mortar and used rocket tubes). The Prime Minister began by memorializing victims of historic mass shootings in Canada and elsewhere and ended by remembering the victims of the Nova Scotia shootings two weeks ago. He then announced the immediate ban on the sale, transfer, import, transport and use of what they termed “military assault weapons” in Canada.
This regulation is amended here in Regulations Amending the Regulations Prescribing Certain Firearms and Other Weapons, Components and Parts of Weapons, Accessories, Cartridge Magazines, Ammunition and Projectiles as Prohibited, Restricted or Non-Restricted: SOR/2020-96.
- AR-15s, AR-10s, M-14 / M-305, Swiss Arms family of rifles, Ruger Mini-14, Ruger Mini-30, VZ-58, CZ-858, Robinson XCR, Smith & Wesson M&P22, Scorpion EVO-3, Sig Sauer MCX, Beretta Cx4 Storm
- upper receivers are also prohibited: “The upper receiver of any firearm referred to in item 87 of Part 1 of this schedule.”
- “Any firearm with a bore diameter of 20 mm or greater”
- “Any firearm capable of discharging a projectile with a muzzle energy greater than 10,000 joules”
- For an exhaustive list please read the regulation
- Update May 4: the RCMP has provided a fact sheet on this new change with information for owners and stores here.
This move was done by Order In Council as regulation that gives it the force of law immediately. As an amendment to existing regulation, the OIC was reviewed by the cabinet and by the bureaucracy without being discussed in the House of Commons as would be normal with legislation.
The PM and Minister Blair outlined other details:
- A two year amnesty for owners during which they can only store the listed firearms
- promised legislation to determine a buyback program
- non-restricted firearms used for hunting by indigenous and those who use them for food is permitted during the amnesty
- firearms may be exported or by retailers returned to manufacturers
- any compensation regime would need to be passed by legislation
Simultaneously firearms retailers received notices to comply with the order and sales that were pending were stopped.
What this means for our members (and for other legal firearms owners):
Owners of any of these firearms should receive a letter from the Canadian Firearms Program within 30 days outlining the new restrictions but based upon the announcement, during the two year amnesty:
- you may not transfer, transport or use any of the named firearms
- you may choose to inform your local police agency that you wish to give up any unwanted firearms
- you may go through the process of deactivating any of the named firearms
- if you are an aboriginal (Indian, Inuit or Metis) and already use one of the previously classified non-restricted firearms for subsistence, you are allowed to continue to use it during the amnesty
- ??? Everything else is very much not defined. In an interview with CBC yesterday Minister of Justice David Lametti had few details, even suggesting that grandfathering of prohibited firearms could be an option providing they were deactivated
What you can do
Firstly BE CALM. You are not required to do anything to your now prohibited firearm except keep it safely stored. Remember that your actions and what you say will be judged by the general public. Do NOT give further fuel to those in the public debate who are now erroneously lauding the government’s actions as sound policy against firearms crime. Sadly, the actions of a deranged individual in the tragic events in Nova Scotia have been used by our government as an excuse to employ long promised restrictions on your traditions and property, despite it being known that the killer did not have a firearms license and sourced all but one of the firearms illegally from the United States.
Secondly, it is your right to express your concerns at this policy by contacting your member of parliament, the Prime Minister, Public Safety Minister Blair and the opposition. Be polite, rational and firm in your message and continue to let your representative know the effect of this action on your life and traditions. Even during this time of COVID distancing you can do it by letter, email and phone. A list of local MPs and their contact information is available here.
Despite what the Prime Minister says, this action had a political calculation and it will be through politics that it can be opposed.
Thirdly, reach out to your community and let them know that you are a safe fellow Canadian who supports public safety and that you support rational public policy that addresses gang violence, illegal arms trafficking, mental health funding and crime prevention.Consider joining and becoming active in any of our national firearms advocacy organizations.
Remember, you have two years to fight this and any further restrictions they have in store.
What your club can do
Regretfully, when our range users return this summer (if COVID restrictions are relaxed), obviously none of these firearms will be allowed at our facilities except by authorized agencies who are exempt. Very obviously, this will affect future competitions as well.
We will do our best to continue to provide information here and on our social media and to reach out to our stakeholders to voice our concerns about this government action.
At the next board meeting your executive will discuss other actions to channel the response of our members. This could take the form of any of the actions we had taken previously to advocate for your rights including meeting with our local MPs, reaching out to the media, organizing a town hall, donating to advocacy organizations and community engagement.
If you have feedback for your board you are welcome to send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay safe and be informed!