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Canadian Firearms owners deserve a transparent classification process
by Larry Miller, MP Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound

July 29, 2016
www.saugeentimes.com
www.greywellingtontimes.com

OP-Ed

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Law-abiding firearms owners in Canada have been pushed around for far too long by a backdoor classification system that gives the RCMP Firearms Program the ability to classify firearms and other components of firearms as prohibited and restricted with the stroke of a pen. The most recent reclassification of a cartridge magazine from non-restricted to prohibited status without any advance notification from the RCMP demonstrates the need for transparency.

Many firearms owners across Canada are still left scratching their heads at the recent prohibition on firearms magazines that are manufactured for the 10/22 Ruger platform. This is a cartridge magazine that is designed to be used in a low-caliber rifle and is owned by hundreds of thousands of firearms owners in Canada. However, just recently, the RCMP began the process of notifying police agencies and retail outlets behind the scenes that these are now prohibited devices in Canada. They did not provide any notice to firearms owners until after the fact. The RCMP has criminalized thousands of law-abiding individuals with the stroke of a pen for simply owning property that they purchased legally. In what world is this fair?

The RCMP appears to be using an “operational bulletin” that they released in 2013 that classifies the devices as prohibited. This truly demonstrates how little transparency there is when it comes to this broken system. The decision was made three years ago but no one was notified and the devices were still sold. Now, out of the blue, the RCMP will begin enforcing this decision with absolutely no public consultation or even communication with the public about how this magazine presents a risk to public safety or if there will be an amnesty for those who purchased the magazines legally. It was the RCMP that allowed the devices to be sold for more than 3 years after they classified the devices as prohibited without telling anyone.

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This classification, along with numerous others including the Swiss Arms Classic Green Rifle classification in 2014, demonstrates the need for the RCMP to be open and transparent with Canadians. With no other type of property would it sit well with Canadians if overnight the police or government made that property illegal. Imagine waking up one morning to find out that the car you drive is now illegal in Canada and you are now in illegal possession of a prohibited device. Welcome to the world of the average law-abiding firearms owner in Canada.

To this day it boggles my mind why there isn’t an automatic consultation period for classification decisions on firearms. When the RCMP wants to make a classification decision they should present the proposed decision to the public, give a comment period for firearms owners to have their say, and release a full statement that justifies their decision. This is the public expectation for numerous other Government decisions so why should it be any different for decisions on firearms?

I call on the Government to introduce an amnesty for those who own the recently reclassified magazines so that they are not criminalized for owning property that they purchased legally. Furthermore, I urge the Government to rethink their promise to repeal measures brought in by the Conservative Government to give Cabinet the ability to reverse these arbitrary decisions from the RCMP. Until the RCMP implements a fair and transparent process of classifying firearms, Cabinet will need every power available to protect law-abiding firearms owners in Canada.

Larry Miller, MP
Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound

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Friday, July 29, 2016