Gun Reclassification – The Importance of Due Process

Our Conservative government has made real progress to protect the rights of law-abiding gun owners. Most importantly, we abolished the wasteful Liberal long gun registry. This was a good step, but I believe that there is more work to do.

Elements of the Liberal gun bill C-68 remain in effect. We saw the negative consequences of that this past week.

Currently, the RCMP has taken on the power to unilaterally reclassify firearms. This means that a gun could be perfectly legal today, and then tomorrow it could be prohibited. It does not make any sense for an existing gun to be considered safe, and then unilaterally reclassified.

I believe that it should be up to law makers, not unelected officials in the RCMP, to make decisions about firearms classification. If elected, I will advocate that any list of prohibited firearm be required to be part of legislation (not regulation or policy) – meaning that firearm reclassification can only happen through an act of Parliament. This would ensure that the reclassification of firearms is always given full and proper debate, that gun-owners have ample notice, and that there are opportunities for consultation.

Taking away someone’s property, by reclassifying it as prohibited, is not something that should be done lightly. But it has been done lightly. Here’s what happened last week – on February 26th, effective 8:00 pm Alberta time, the RCMP unilaterally reclassified the Swiss Arms Classic Green carbine from non-restricted (and restricted) to prohibited. There are approximately 1,000 -1,800 of these firearms in the public. Guns which cost between $3,000 and $4,000 to purchase must now be surrendered, and no compensation has been offered. Until the re-classification, these guns were perfectly legal.

Whatever your views are on guns, there is clearly a lack of due process here. The federal minister responsible for public safety was not consulted on this decision by the RCMP, and the Swiss Arms Classic Green has never been used to commit a crime in Canada. I believe that gun reclassification should be a matter for Parliament, not for unelected public officials.