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Alberta introduces firearms act to counter Ottawa’s Bill C-21

The Alberta government introduced legislation Tuesday aimed at escalating its ongoing firearms feud with the federal government.

Bill 8 is designed to strengthen the state’s ability to regulate, manage and advocate on behalf of firearms owners.

Alberta Justice Minister Tyler Schandro criticized the issue federal Liberals’ Bill C-21which includes a national handgun freeze and a ban on many assault-style firearms.

He noted that Alberta would not agree to RCMP officers acting as seizure agents and would appeal any such move under the provincial-federal agreement that governs policing.

Shandro said the new legislation will give Alberta the tools it needs to combat Ottawa’s attacks on law-abiding Alberta gun owners.

“For example, the seizure and confiscation of firearms. Alberta can create regulations to respond to federal actions that adversely affect law-abiding firearms owners here in the province,” Shandro said.

“Regulations could also be drafted to prevent municipalities and city police services from entering into funding agreements with the federal government.”

The act would also allow for the licensing of confiscation agents and create a committee to ensure owners receive fair compensation for their firearms.

There aren’t many details in the legislation, and Shandro said it’s written that way for a reason. He said the federal government has provided few details on how it plans to proceed.

“I describe it as nimble. That’s important because we don’t have the details yet,” Shandro said.

“Once we 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 gun confiscation program continues to change. Instead of doing it nationwide, he said, it’s now starting in Prince Edward Island. Shandro said the amnesty for gun owners to surrender their restricted weapons was scheduled to expire in October of this year and is now being extended.

“We don’t think they have the resources or means to implement this plan.

The legislation also requires the creation of requirements for the forensic examination of confiscated firearms, if necessary.

“If you have a huge program to seize thousands of firearms, it can be a great way for someone to get rid of a firearm used in a crime. It’s important for us to have that information,” Shandro said.

There are estimated to be approximately 30,000 prohibited firearms in Alberta under the federal definition.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on March 7, 2023.

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