Sport shooters are required by federal law to have Authorizations to Transport (ATT) documents that allow them to transport firearms between their homes and a shooting range
What Can Canada Do to Jump on the Gun Control Bandwagon?
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Not much. While there are a lot of similarities between Americans and Canadians perhaps the greatest cultural divide between the two nations surrounds attitudes about firearms. Under Canada’s current and former constitution, there is no right to bear anything let alone arms.
Guns in Canada are so strictly controlled there is not much room to make vast legislative changes. But this fact does not stop under-worked power hungry bureaucrats from making changes that make no sense other than to make it more cumbersome for law abiding gun owners. The latest occurred when a couple of top bureaucrats decided to make it more difficult for sport shooters who are legally allowed to own firearms to take their guns to shooting ranges.
In Canada, firearms are divided into three categories; non-restricted, restricted and prohibited. Even though some guns are now “prohibited”, they can be legally owned if acquired at a time they were able to be obtained legally.
All owners of firearms must obtain a Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL). The applicant must pass a Canadian Firearms Safety Course and is subject to a background and security check that includes interviews with those who live with the person seeking a licence. Although there is a mandatory 28-day waiting period for first time applicants, the usual waiting time is about 60 days.
Those who seek to legally own restricted and prohibited weapons, in addition to being licenced, must register each individual firearm. The registration must be renewed every five years.
Because of these strict laws, there is no room to pass comprehensive legislation such as the “Andrew Cuomo I’m Running for President in 2016 and Can Pass Tougher Gun Laws than Obama Can Act” that recently became law in New York state. In fact Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government is actually going the other way. Last April the long gun registry was abolished. Referred to as the “billion dollar boondoggle”, the requirement to register non-restricted rifles and shotguns was brought in 1995, six years after the tragic murder of 14 women university students in Montreal.
Interviewed after Sandy Hook, Harper said his government is satisfied with the law and no changes are contemplated.
While the regulation and licencing of firearms falls within the jurisdiction of the federal government, the provinces have Chief Firearms Officers (CFOs) who are responsible for the issuance of licences. The federal Firearms Act allows these CFOs to impose “reasonable conditions” on the licences they issue, in addition to the mandated federal requirements. This allows officials in nanny state provincial governments to impose even more regulations than are found in federal legislation.
Sport shooters are required by federal law to have Authorizations to Transport (ATT) documents that allow them to transport firearms between their homes and a shooting range. The conditions of the ATTs provide that firearms must be unloaded and kept in a locked box while in the vehicle. But to the CFOs in Ontario and New Brunswick, this was far from sufficient. They had to impose an additional restriction.
Beginning this year, sport shooters in those provinces who want to go to a range they are not a member of must obtain another document. They must request, obtain and carry a written invitation from the range they plan to attend, stating they have been invited to shoot there. The CFOs poo-pooed the suggestion this was too onerous by saying the invitations can be sent by email. No biggie.
Anti-gun zealots in Canada always supported the late long gun registry by saying it was worth the expenditure of billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money “if it only saved one life.” It is difficult to see how the silly additional requirement of getting invited to a shooting range can even remotely save the one theoretical life the activists all talk about. To prevent crime and possibly save a life, the following conditions must be met. The sport shooter must be stopped by the police while either going to or going home from a shooting range, not possess a valid invitation and be stopped before they got the chance to blow someone away. What are the odds?
This is nothing more than power hungry bureaucrats trying to justify their existence by making life more difficult for law abiding citizens.
The inconvenience to individual sport shooters is relatively minor compared to that of the gun ranges. If they hold events, as they often do, involving hundreds of non-member competitors, the shooting range must send out individual invites to each participant.
The Canadian Shooting Sports Association is taking Ontario’s CFO to court arguing there is no valid reason why someone who already has an ATT, must first get an invitation before they can legally take their handgun to a shooting range.
Vic Toews, Canada’s Public Safety Minister, is refusing to comment on the matter as it is before the courts but was reported to be not pleased with these new regulations.