The Alberta government introduced legislation Tuesday aimed at bulking up in its ongoing firearms feud with the federal government.
Bill 8 is meant to strengthen the province’s ability to regulate, administer and advocate on behalf of firearms owners.
Alberta Justice Minister Tyler Shandro has been critical of the federal Liberals’ Bill C-21, which includes a national handgun freeze and prohibition on many assault-style firearms.
He has indicated Alberta would not agree to having RCMP officers act as confiscation agents and would protest any such move under the provincial-federal agreement that governs policing.
Shandro said the new legislation would give Alberta the tools it needs to deal with what he called escalating attacks by Ottawa on law-abiding Alberta gunowners.
“For example, the seizure and confiscation of firearms — Alberta could create regulations to respond to federal actions that negatively impact law-abiding firearms owners here in the province,” Shandro said.
“Regulations could also be developed to prevent municipalities and municipal police services from entering into funding agreements with the federal government.”
The act would also allow for the licensing of seizure agents and develop a committee to ensure owners receive fair compensation for their firearms.
There’s not a lot of detail in the legislation and Shandro said it’s written that way for a reason. He said the federal government has given out few details about how it plans to proceed.
“I characterize it as being nimble. That’s important because we don’t have any details yet,” Shandro said.
“Once we do see those details what we have here … is an opportunity for us to be nimble and develop regulations to respond to that at that time.”
Shandro said the federal plan on gun confiscation continues to change. He said instead of being implemented countrywide, it’s now starting in Prince Edward Island. Shandro said the amnesty for gun owners to turn in their restricted weapons was scheduled to end in October of this year and it is now being extended.
“We don’t think that they have the resources or wherewithal to be able to implement this program.”
The legislation also calls for the creation of requirements for forensic testing of the confiscated firearms when deemed necessary.
“If you have a massive confiscation program of thousands of firearms, it could potentially be a great way for someone to get rid of a firearm that was used in a crime. It’s important for us to have that information,” Shandro said.
About 30,000 prohibited firearms are believed to exist in Alberta under the federal definition.