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Alberta justice minister takes aim at handgun freeze

Federal handgun regulations that took effect on Friday will not reduce urban violence, says minister

The federal government’s national handgun freeze is about “wedge politics” not public safety, charges Alberta Justice Minister Tyler Shandro.

“The federal government will pretend that this is about public safety, deliberately conflating legal handgun ownership with the violence that we see in many urban centres across Canada,” says Shandro in a Friday statement. “In reality, the handguns used to perpetrate criminal acts in our urban centres are typically illegally obtained and are smuggled across the U.S. border by weapons traffickers.

“The federal government’s real goal is to scapegoat handgun owners and use wedge politics to appeal to a narrow base of voters who wish to see legal firearm ownership in this country eliminated entirely.”

The handgun freeze on the sale, purchase and transfer of handguns took effect on Friday. Under the regulations, people can still own and use their existing registered handguns. Handguns can also be sold or transferred to exempted individuals or businesses. and sell or transfer handguns to “exempted individuals or businesses.”

Authorized businesses can still import and sell handguns to other eligible businesses, law enforcement, defence personnel and other exempted individuals.

According to the federal government, exempted people include anyone already authorized to carry handguns and individuals who train, compete or coach in a handgun shooting discipline that is on International Olympic Committee or International Paralympic Committee programs.

Shandro said regulations that now stop Canadians who are interested in becoming new gun owners will have a big impact on legitimate sports clubs and businesses.

“The ban means that Canadians interested in becoming new handgun owners are unable to do so. Sadly, with no new purchases being made, ranges, sport shooting clubs and firearms-related businesses will slowly be forced to shut down, compromising livelihoods and recreational opportunities for tens of thousands of Canadians,” says Shandro.

“This freeze led to a massive surge in handgun purchases from law-abiding firearms owners as they sought to make legal purchases for the last time. Ironically, there are now more legally owned handguns than ever before in Canadian history.

“Alberta’s government will always stand with law-abiding firearms owners as we strive to keep our communities safe, put criminals behind bars and protect Albertans’ property rights.”

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