New assault weapon ban does little to target criminals: Alberta premier

Click to play video: 'Ottawa’s new firearms ban receives mixed reviews in Calgary'
Ottawa’s new firearms ban receives mixed reviews in Calgary
WATCH: The federal government has unveiled a new ban on some firearms, and it’s getting mixed reviews in Alberta. Adam MacVicar reports. – May 1, 2020

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said his government is actively considering appointing a provincial chief firearms officer to replace the Ottawa-appointed position following the federal government’s announcement of a sweeping ban on assault weapons.

“Today’s order by Ottawa does little to target criminals,” Kenney said in a statement on Friday.

“Instead, Ottawa is singling out law-abiding Canadians who purchased their property legally, have owned these items safely for years, and who have committed no crimes.”

Kenney said that the majority of firearms used criminally in Canada are smuggled in illegally from the United States and that the money used to implement the ban would be better used “to pursue the smugglers and drug gangs that plague our society.”

On Friday, the federal government announced a new ban that would outlaw 1,500 “assault-style” guns, effective immediately.

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READ MORE: ‘Enough is enough’ — Feds unveil ban on 1,500 ‘assault-style’ firearms

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair described it as a “first step” with others still to come.

The banned firearms are prohibited for use, sale, import or transport in Canada. The ban includes a two-year amnesty period for current owners.

According to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a buyback program is in the works but details have not been released.

“These weapons were designed for one purpose and one purpose only: to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time,” Trudeau said Friday.

The ban was not surprising to staff at the Calgary Shooting Centre.

The gun shop and certified shooting range has $100,000 worth of now banned firearms in its inventory, according to staff.

“The government has said that we can possess them here for two years and that at some time in the future, they may offer compensation for them. Well, that’s ridiculous. That’s tying up inventory, that’s overhead cost for my business,” said Calgary Shooting Centre president James Bachynsky.

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“Without offering a realistic solution and a realistic time frame, it’s just absolutely ludicrous.”

Bachynsky said the majority of the firearms on the banned list were previously considered restricted and could only be used as collectible items or at a government-certified target range.

There are also items on the list, such as anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles, which aren’t included in the Firearms Act, which was set up to include rifled firearms up to 50 calibres, Bachynsky said.

He said ammunition for many of the weapons on the list can no longer be found or are obsolete.

“Using this generic list of firearms and suggesting that variance of these firearms are prohibited is imprecise, confusing and quite frankly, idiotic,” Bachynsky said. “Quite honestly, the best outcome for me, I hope, is that people see how draconian these measures are.”

READ MORE: Gun lobby groups got top-level meetings as feds readied roll out of assault weapon ban

Meanwhile, the Canadian National Firearms Association said it is weighing its options to challenge and protest the newly implemented ban.

The organization is encouraging its members to obey the new law but not give up their firearms.

Its president, Sheldon Clare, said that the new restrictions don’t make things any safer.

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“This is theft of property on a grand scale. This is stealing people’s private property,” Clare said. “What kind of firearm is more dangerous than any other kind of firearm? It’s a ridiculous argument; if someone wants to do something bad, they will do something bad.”

READ MORE: Half of Canadians in cities support full ban on firearms, Ipsos poll says

A new survey, conducted by Ipsos exclusively for Global News, found that 52 per cent of Canadians living in nine major centres agreed that all types of guns should be made illegal. However, about a third of those polled were against the idea while 17 per cent were neutral on the issue.

In Edmonton, 33 per cent of those surveyed were in favour of the ban and 34 per cent of those surveyed in Calgary supported the measure.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi voiced his support for the new ban on Friday, as gun violence in the city continues to rise.

“Though Calgary remains a very safe place, the amount of gun violence in the city has gone up to unacceptable levels,” Nenshi said. “So it really is important for us to stand in favour of these kinds of strong restrictions.”

In November 2019, the province announced a motion saying that the government recognizes and supports “the ability of Albertans to lawfully and in a responsible manner own and possess firearms and to engage in permitted activities involving the use of firearms, including but not limited to hunting and sport shooting.”

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— With files from Global News’ Amanda Connelly and Kerri Breen

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