An RCMP mailer sent in early June to all licensed gun owners has caused confusion.
The intention of the letter was to make firearms owner aware of the new prohibited firearms regulations implemented on May 1, so that they could determine whether the firearms they possess had been reclassified.
Nevertheless, OOD, the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) and other organizations have been contacted by some firearms owners who were concerned that the government was asserting they owned newly banned firearms.
Skipped classification category
“The reason the RCMP has sent this expensive mailing to all valid firearms license holders is because some of the newly prohibited firearms skipped a classification category from non-restricted to prohibited,” said OFAH Manager of Fish and Wildlife Services Matt DeMille.
“This means that the RCMP doesn’t have a record of who owns firearms that were classified as non-restricted before May 1, 2020 because the long gun registry records were destroyed. The mailing only provides a broad description of the categories that were reclassified and does not provide a list of the newly prohibited firearms, so there is a good chance firearms owners will be confused about whether the changes apply to them. They could either wrongly assume they are receiving the notice because they own a firearm that is now prohibited even if they don’t, or could wrongly dismiss it, because there was nothing that directly connected their firearm to the new prohibitions.”
1,500 firearms banned
Firearms retailers were also left uncertain as a result of a purported expansion of the initial prohibited list released on May 1 which, by Order in Council, banned approximately 1,500 military-style and large bore firearms.
The Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association was quoted in the National Post, saying that by early June an additional 320 firearms had been added to the initial list. The National Post claimed to have verified 200 of those additional firearms, by the article’s June 3 publication.
Avoidable challenges created
“The full list of prohibited firearms should have been available on May 1, 2020 when the regulations came into force,” said DeMille. “Reclassifying firearms and updating the list of prohibited firearms for weeks following the announcement has created unfortunate and avoidable challenges for the firearms industry and put firearms owners and businesses unknowingly at risk of criminal liability.”
He added, “Hunters weren’t the primary target of these bans, but there are definitely firearms used for hunting that are now prohibited. Not all hunters will be directly affected, but the confusion and uncertainty of the poorly implemented prohibitions has impacted international firearm shipments that could impact the availability of common hunting firearms heading into the fall season.
If nothing else, all firearms owners and all Canadians for that matter, should be concerned about the inadequate consultation, lack of government preparedness for the changes, and the arbitrary nature of the reclassification criteria that has created this situation.”