And it has nothing to do with saving lives. In Canada we have strict gun controls. We can own handguns and semi-auto (self-loading) rifles, and even full auto machine guns, provided you have the right licenses.
The first gun control on Canadians was in 1934 when a registry for all handguns was established. Link. But the real change in firearms laws was started by the Liberal Government in 1979 when the Firearms Acquisition Certificate was introduced. You could own a non-handgun with no license, but you had to have the FAC to buy any kind of gun after the bill, C-17, was passed.
Then came Alan Rock, Minster of Justice for the Federal Liberal Government. It was a massive change to gun laws and came about after a mass shooting on December 6, 1989, at the École Polytechnique in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Link.
C-68 was passed in 1995 as it took the government years to figure out how they could confiscate every handgun, every semi-auto rifle, and anything that looked scary.
The goal of C-68 was to ban as many handguns as possible. To achieve that goal, they banned all 25 cal, and all 32 cal pistols. Then when they still hadn’t reached the majority of handguns in private hands, they looked at barrel length. Anything four inches or smaller was banned.
Unintended consequence of course happened. For example, German Lugers instantly became illegal because of their short barrel. There is likely thousands of them in Canada brought home as souvenirs after WWII. Many were turned in and destroyed. But a fellow in Montreal, who has a prohib license, buys these relics of history and puts new barrels on them. A mere quarter inch longer. That makes them legal as restricted handguns. Go figure. Obviously there is no difference in function.
The result of C-68 was a three tiered license system – non-restricted, restricted and prohibited. Prohibited included anything full auto, or even converted from a full auto machine gun. Those in private hands were grandfathered with a special prohibited license, which could be passed down to their heirs. But no new prohib licenses would be issued ever again.
Right off, the government had a serious problem because Olympic competitors use 32 cal revolvers, so they had to get an exception from the prohib rules.
Other provisions in C-68 was magazine restriction for semi-auto rifles to just rive rounds. Originally, Alan Rock demanded that a rifle hold no more than one round at time. It was deemed impossible to force the public to hand in all their rifle magazines. So, under pressure, he caved and allowed us five round magazines for semi-auto rifles, ten round magazines for handguns, and no limit for bolt action rifles. (though some ten round mags for bolt action rifles can fit some semi-auto rifles, go figure…)
C-68 also forced those buying ammo to have a license. It also forced everyone to register everything they owned, including bolt action rifles and shotguns. That was called the Long Gun Registry. The Liberals claimed it would cost only three million to implement. It cost two billion. And not everyone registered their rifles. Estimates are that less than half the long guns in private hands were registered.
C-68 had subsequent amendments, called Order in Council, which was used to prohibit specific firearms by name. The hit list was large. Even the AR15 was on the list, but it was classified as restricted. A restricted rifle was any rifle with a barrel length of less than eighteen inches. Or by name as the government deemed necessary (hence twenty inch barrel ARs are restricted).
Rumors have it that when the government decided what rifle was to be prohibited, they looked through a catalog and circled in red anything they deemed was scary looking. Functionality was irrelevant.
For example, one can buy a semi-auto 45 ACP rifle. They are restricted. But the Auto-Ordinance series of semi-auto rifles based on the classic Thompson submachine gun, is prohibited. So is anything deemed to be a “variant of” something already prohibited.
This has opened the door to a lot of abuse. For example, anything that looks like an AK47, regardless of the functionality, is prohibited. Why? Because it’s a scary looking assault rifle used to kill millions of people. It’s so ridiculous that the Mossberg Blaze 47 .22 cal rimfire rifle was instantly deemed prohibited by the RCMP just recently. They didn’t even bother to test it.
Yet they have just allowed the .22cal version of the famous StG44 into Canada as a non-restricted.
The original StG44 was a German assault rifle of the latter year of WWII. It was used as the template for the Russian AK47. Even the semi-auto centre fire (8mm Kurtz) version of the StG44 made by a German company is legal as a restricted rifle in Canada.
By the time the Conservatives got into government some nine years ago, the Firearms Act was a spaghetti mess. And costing the government billions. But the headache for the new government wasn’t just the money.
C-68 set up provincial Chief Firearms Officers. Part of their job is to issue Authorizations to Transport. This was a new provision in C-68 as well. Anyone with a restricted or prohibited firearm had to get an ATT to move it out of their homes. (One guy I know has an ATT to go from his house to his private range in the back yard).
Those firearms could only be used at approved ranges as well. If you belonged to a club they would get your ATT. If you needed to take your firearm to a gunsmith, you had to call the CFO office and request an ATT to take it there. Then when done, you had to get another to bring it home. If you bought a firearm at a store, you had to get another ATT to transport THAT gun only. If you bought a restricted gun in a private sale, you need to get an ATT to pick it up at the post office. The seller needed one to get it to the Post Office. Lend your firearms to someone, and you needed an ATT.
The interesting thing about these ATTs is no one looked at them. They were never used in any criminal investigations (criminals don’t bother to call the CFO to ask for an ATT).
Not long ago, in Ontario, things got real interesting. An individual with handguns, and did not belong to a range, was denied ATTs to go to any ranges in the province. He took the CFO to court, but lost. The Firearms Act allowed CFOs to be kings and make their own laws.
To prove that, CFOs decided, on their own, that you must belong to a club to keep your restricted firearms. If you did not belong to a club, upon renewal of your license, they could come and confiscate all your restricted firearms, and destroy them. No recourse, and no compensation for the value of the firearms.
The next thing the Ontario CFO did was to impose new rules on ATTs. You could only get an ATT for the club you belonged to. If you wanted to attend an event at another club, you had to get an invitation from that club, and then the CFO might give you a short term ATT to attend the event.
If you got caught without one going to another club, you were looking at three years in a federal prison.
What was interesting about these conditions was there was no legislation in the Firearms Act for any of it. The Ontario CFO was making his own laws whenever he wanted to, which carried with it criminal consequences for anyone violating the rules. Classic police state.
The Conservative Party finally got a majority government in 2011. The first thing they did was to pass a law ending the costly Long Gun Registry. The anti-gun people went ballistic. They screeched that there would be blood running in the streets. I watched the hearings live, and the anti-gun people were ruthless in their attack against all firearms owners. They grave danced on the victims of gun violence, all the while lying to Parliamentarians about what would happen with no restrictions on long guns. NDP and Liberal MPs sung along with the gun-grabbers.
Yet not one of them, when probed, could site a single case of a life being saved because of the Long Gun Registry.
In the end, C-19 passed, and we could burn our certificates for all our long guns. Blood didn’t run in the streets. The data was destroyed at the Federal government, except Quebec’s records. They wanted to make their own Long Gun Registry, and wanted the government’s data. The Supreme Court of Canada said no.
But that wasn’t the end of the data saga. Chiefs of Police were against the government abolishing the Long Gun Registry. And once C-19 passed, CFOs tried to make their own back door registry, by keeping copies of the data, and also ordering business to hand over any and all sales of long guns. The Federal government squashed that immediately.
Then in March of 2014 something miraculous happened. The RCMP decided to ban two semi-auto rifles, which had been sold in Canada for almost ten years. Over night the RCMP made some 10,000 Canadians criminals (see a pattern here?). I was one of them, as I own a Cz858 rifle.
The other rifle banned was the Swiss Arms Classic Green.
The 858 was deemed a converted from full auto. The story is long and complex, but the rifles were not converted from full auto, but the RCMP decided they were. The Classic Green, in the RCMP’s opinion, was a “variant of” a full auto Swiss Arms rifle (it isn’t).
Immediately the government acted and gave us all a two-year amnesty to keep, and use, our firearms. The RCMP was pissed. They didn’t even have time to send everyone confiscation notices. Interesting was that the 858 is non-restricted so how could they send us all notices?
This reclassification was the best thing to happen to firearms owners, but only because we have a Conservative government. In the fall the government introduced legislation to fix the CFO ATT issue and the Cz 858/Classic Green reclassification. Except the government had a problem. Prohib and restricted firearms are explicitly defined in our Criminal Code. But non-restricted rifles were not. So the government couldn’t do an Order in Council to turn the prohibited rifles the RCMP just banned back to non-restricted.
This was a deliberate omission when the Liberals wrote C-68. They didn’t want classification to be anything other than firearms going prohibited.
The new bill, C-42, just passed as law. It fixes the CFO’s being able to make their own laws. It allows us to transport our restricted firearms as part of our licenses without having to ask for an ATT. It defines what a non-restricted firearm is, and explicitly states in the bill that the government has the authority to make any firearm non-restricted by Order in Council.
This is what they will do this summer to reverse the RCMP reclassification of the two rifles. They also will be making new regulations for the CFOs and RCMP, which will spell out exactly what they can and cannot do. Ending the police state.
Last summer, they wrote new regulations on the RCMP such that they have only one year to reverse their classification designation of any new firearm. After that, they cannot change their minds. Thus all our current rifles are safe from reclassification as the RCMP had their eye on a number of semi-auto rifles they wanted to prohibit. They can’t now.
The government will also set up a committee, which will be tasked with classifications of any new firearm. That takes even more teeth out of the jaws of the RCMP.
But our successes may be for naught and short lived. We have a federal election this October. Should the Liberals or NDP get back into power we fully expect them to rejuvenate their gun grabs, and go much, much further. The Liberals narrowly defeated a policy at their convention three years ago, which would impose Aussie style gun control and confiscation.
That’s the subject of my next post.