The UCP is setting up yet another panel – this time to ask Albertans what they think about guns.
The province is also establishing a provincial firearms examination unit to speed up testing of guns that have been seized as evidence in criminal investigations.
While the Calgary Police Service (CPS) carries out this testing in its own facility and the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) is establishing a lab of its own, most police services in Alberta rely on the RCMP’s National Forensic Laboratory Services in Ottawa to fulfil this requirement with a straightforward test-firing procedure.
“In the fall of 2019, data indicated it was taking an average of eight months for the national RCMP laboratory to process a routine firearms testing request from Alberta. To prevent lengthy court delays from putting the prosecution of violent criminals at risk, Alberta is ending its reliance on the federal laboratory by establishing a provincial unit to perform tests on firearms used in crimes,” the government said in a release.
“Justice and Solicitor General is working on a plan with its partners at CPS, EPS, RCMP and Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT) to establish a team and protocols for conducting firearms testing at the existing lab in Calgary and the forthcoming facility in Edmonton.”
“The federal government has introduced hasty and ill-thought-out measures that penalize law-abiding gun owners while doing little to stop criminals who traffic or use illegal firearms. The vast sums of money Ottawa will spend would be far better used to pursue the smugglers and drug gangs that plague our society,” said Premier Jason Kenney Wednesday.
“In Alberta, we will take action to protect Albertans, prosecute criminals and deter illegal gun crime and trafficking rather than persecuting law-abiding citizens.”
Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer said: “While Ottawa spends hundreds of millions of dollars targeting law-abiding gun owners, our government is investing in a firearms examination unit to conduct criminal firearms testing so prosecutions are not put in jeopardy by lengthy delays.
“The measures we are taking today will show Ottawa that a responsible firearms policy targets criminals and illegal gun traffickers and not lawful gun use.”
The Alberta Firearms Advisory Committee will be chaired by Michaela Glasgo, MLA for Brooks-Medicine Hat, and will have representation from groups that speak for a wide range of lawful gun owners, including farmers and ranchers, hunters and trappers, and shooting sports enthusiasts, the government said in a release.
“The committee will give Albertans the opportunity to voice their concerns over the federal government’s firearms legislation and provide recommendations on how provincial policies can best target criminals while respecting law-abiding gun owners,” the release said.
Former Calgary police chief Rick Hanson is another member of the committee.
“Community safety is a vital concern for all Albertans. It is critically important to protect our communities from the crime and violence associated with the unlawful possession and use of firearms while at the same time protecting the lawful rights of hunters and responsible gun owners,” Hanson said.
The UCP government has set up numerous panels since they came to power asking Albertans for the thoughts on a variety of subjects.
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe has said he is considering appointing that province’s own firearms commissioner.
Last week, the Western Standard wrote how the RCMP are quietly adding more guns to the list of 1,500 banned by the federal government earlier this month.
The RCMP, which manages the FRT through the Canadian Firearms Program, confirmed the re-classification was taking place beyond the original list of 1,500, and so far no public notification has taken place.
In early May, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday they are banning 1,500 different makes and models of what he called “military-style” and “assault-style” guns in Canada.
The ban came into effect immediately and was ordered by the cabinet without any bill or debate in Parliament.
The Liberals campaigned in the last election to ban assault rifles and introduce legislation allowing cities to ban handguns.
The federal government still has to work out the details of a buy-back program to compensate the owners of previous legal firearms.
Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard