The Government of Saskatchewan is introducing new provincial gun control regulations with a bill it says will “protect law-abiding firearms owners”.
The Saskatchewan Firearms Act was read for the first time in the legislature Thursday. It will establish licensing requirements and compensation rates for the seizure of prohibited guns in Saskatchewan, as well as establish a ballistics lab at which seized guns will need to be tested for criminal activity before they’re destroyed.
“This Act will help address concerns of responsible gun owners and enhance public safety across Saskatchewan,” Corrections, Policing and Public Safety Minister Christine Tell said in a press release.
“We take public safety seriously and support initiatives that reduce the criminal use of firearms, while preventing gang violence and stopping illegal guns from entering our province.”
The province says it’s investing $3.2 million this year to develop these and measures dedicated to promoting awareness of gun safety and regulations.
The Act comes amid continued criticism from the provincial government of federal gun control policy, claiming active and proposed gun bans could “criminalize hunters, farmers and target shooters who collectively own hundreds of thousands of firearms that could soon be prohibited.”
In May, 2020, the federal government enacted a ban on over 1,500 “assault style firearms”. It’s also moving ahead with legislation that seeks to implement a national freeze on handguns in Canada and includes a proposal to ban centrefire semi-automatic rifles or shotguns designed to accept a detachable magazine that can hold more than five cartridges.
A mandatory buyback program is being developed for those guns already banned, for which a pricing model “based on market rates” has already been proposed. A Criminal Code amnesty period for those lawfully in possession of these weapons at the time of the ban is in effect until Oct. 30, 2023.
Earlier this year, meanwhile, Minister Tell wrote to the Saskatchewan RCMP stating that the province “does not support and will not authorize the use of provincially funded resources for any process that is connected to the federal government’s proposed buyback program of these firearms”.
The Saskatchewan Firearms Act specifies who will be allowed to carry out the seizure of a prohibited gun. So-called “seizure agents” will need to apply for a license directly to the Corrections, Policing and Public Safety Minister, according to the bill.
The bill also specifies that “a municipality, police service or board of a police service must receive the written approval of the minister before entering into an agreement with the Government of Canada that includes funding to support the enforcement of a specified law” which prescribes a firearm as prohibited.
Questioned further about the Act by reporters Thursday and a potential response to the Saskatchewan RCMP participating in future gun seizure, Tell said “we as a province fund the RCMP to the tune of 70 per cent, so it could even get more interesting.”
“All options are on the table.”