COMMENTARY – RCMP HAVE CLASSIFIED 4,030 FIREARMS AS “VARIANTS” – SO WHY IS THERE NO DEFINITIION OF ‘VARIANT’ IN CANADA’S FIREARMS LAW?
By Dennis R. Young, CSSA Guest Columnist
Why is the term ‘variant’ used 99 times in the Firearms Regulations but never defined in law? I’ve filed a number of Access to Information Act requests with the RCMP and the Department of Justice trying to find out. No one will tell me the reasons why. The term ‘variant’ is used extensively (4,030 times) by the RCMP to classify and reclassify firearms as restricted or prohibited, forcing gun owners of previously non-restricted firearms to jump through hoops just to retain possession of their firearms. Court cases are being fought because on the ‘vagueness of the law’. At the stroke of an RCMP pen, ‘variants’ reclassified as prohibited often have to be turned in because licences to own prohibited firearms are so difficult and sometimes impossible to obtain, resulting in a complete or significant loss in value and also because prohibited firearms are forbidden from being used for recreational purposes.
Below are five news stories arising from the confusion caused by the lack of a definition for the term ‘variant’ in our Canadian law books:
CANADA’S GUN-CLASSIFICATION SYSTEM CALLED ‘DEEPLY FLAWED’
“There’s no consistency in the determination whatsoever. Nobody’s held them accountable.” By Douglas Quan – January 31, 2014
PUBLIC SAFETY MINISTER HAS TO RE-EARN PUBLIC TRUST AFTER GUN BAN FIASCO
Thousands of law-abiding gun owners bought them, for thousands of dollars, in good faith, and were now being told to surrender their lawfully obtained property lest they suddenly become criminals. By Matt Gurney | May 15, 2014
CONSERVATIVES RESTRICT RCMP’S ABILITY TO RECLASSIFY FIREARMS
“Those who are in lawful possession of firearms no longer need to worry that they will become criminals overnight by the stroke of a pen,” Minister Blaney said. By Douglas Quan | August 29, 2014
FEDERAL PUBLIC SAFETY MINISTER, RCMP CLASH OVER BANNED RIFLE
Gun enthusiasts were perplexed. They say both .22-calibre rifles are virtually identical, except the Blaze is fitted with a black-plastic stock, whereas the Blaze-47 has a wood-coloured stock. By Douglas Quan | June 30, 2015
HARPER GOVERNMENT REVERSED RCMP’S BAN ON TWO RIFLE BRANDS
The controversy started in February 2014 after the RCMP changed the status of Swiss Arms rifles and CZ-858 rifles from restricted or non-restricted status to prohibited. The guns had been legal in Canada for years. By Douglas Quan | August 6, 2015
THE TERM ‘VARIANT’ IS USED NINETY-NINE TIMES IN FIREARMS REGULATIONS. And yet, the term ‘variant’ isn’t defined in Part III of Criminal Code, it isn’t defined in the Firearms Act nor is it defined in the Firearms Regulations.
Prohibited and restricted firearms are defined under Part Ill of the Criminal Code, while specific models and variants are classified (but NOT defined) under the Regulations Prescribing Certain Firearms and other Weapons, Components and Parts of Weapons, Accessories, Cartridge Magazines, Ammunition and Projectiles as Prohibited or Restricted. http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/PDF/SOR-98-462.pdf
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT ATIP RESPONSE: NO DEFINITION OF ‘VARIANT’ AND HIDING IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS FROM PUBLIC VIEW
The lack of a definition for the term ‘variant’ has wide reaching implications with respect to the classification of and reclassification of firearms. This 190-page response from the Justice Department has most of the pages blanked out citing the excuses of Solicitor-Client privilege and Advice to the Minister. http://dennisryoung.ca/2015/10/07/justice-dept-atip-response-no-definition-of-variant/
RCMP ATIP RESPONSE: TOTAL FIREARMS IN FRT LISTED AS ‘VARIANTS’ = 4,030
As of October 16, 2015, the total number of firearms listed in the Firearms Reference Table is 162,972. As of October 16, 2015, the total number of firearms identified as variants based on the legal authority being linked to Part 1 and Part 2 of the Regulations Prescribing Certain Firearms and Other Weapons, Components and parts of Weapons, Accessories, Cartridge Magazines, Ammunition and Projectiles as Prohibited, Restricted or Non-Restricted is 4,030.http://dennisryoung.ca/2016/01/03/total-number-of-firearms-in-frt-listed-as-variants-4030/
RCMP CRITERIA FOR CLASSIFYING FIREARM VARIANTS
EXCERPT TAKEN FROM THE AFFIDAVIT OF MURRAY SMITH, SPECIALIZED FIREARMS SUPPORT SERVICES SECTION, CANADIAN FIREARMS PROGRAM, ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE
Signed: October 17, 2011 - Court File No. 31992-1 - Prince George Registry
PROVINCIAL COURT OF BRITISH COLUMBIA
IN THE MATTER OF A REFERENCE HEARING UNDER S. 74 OF THE FIREARMS ACT
BETWEEN: GEOFFERY MCDONALD, APPLICANT
AND: ATTORNEY GENERAL OF CANADA, RESPONDENT
EXCERPT FROM PDF PAGES 835-836 AND ATIP PAGES 2079-2090:
The term "variant" is used in the Regulations Prescribing Certain Firearms and Other Weapons, Components and Parts of Weapons, Accessories, Cartridge Magazines, Ammunition and Projectiles as Prohibited or Restricted but is not defined in the Regulations. For the purposes of the FRT, the ordinary meaning of the word "variant" is employed, which is taken to mean "a version derived from the original but not identical to the original," based on a survey of various dictionary definitions.
For the purposes of the FRT, the "variant or modified version" clause was understood to be forward looking and include new variations of firearms entering the marketplace that did not exist at the time the prohibited and restricted parts of the Regulations were last extensively overhauled in 1995. The Regulations largely focus on semiautomatic copies of military and paramilitary firearms.
The following criteria are used for FRT decisions:
- a) is the design of the proposed variant derived from the original firearm, in this case, an AK-47 rifle?
- b) would the proposed variant ever have existed were it not for the prior invention of the original?
- c) is there any commonality in the handling, firing and other operating characteristics with the original?
- d) does the firearm resemble with some precision the original? Would it be mistaken for the original at a modest distance?
- e) is there any commonality of parts or accessories?
- f) is the proposed variant marketed or otherwise represented by the manufacturer, importer or firearms dealer as being their copy of the original?
- g) does the trade literature describe the proposed variant as being a copy of the original?
None of the factors listed above are individually conclusive by their presence or absence. It is the combination of features that leads a conclusion one way or the other, for the purposes of the FRT database.
ABOVE EXCERPT TAKEN FROM RCMP ATIP 1,443 PAGES OF RECLASSIFICATION DOCUMENTS – NOV 28, 2013
ONE FINAL QUESTION: If the RCMP have to resort to using definitions from the dictionary and have such a detailed ‘criteria’ for classifying firearm ‘variants’, what do the RCMP have to gain, and why is the Justice Department so afraid of eliminating all the confusion by having a legal definition in the books for the benefit of the public, police, politicians, judges, lawyers, media and law-abiding gun owners?
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OBAMA ISSUES EXECUTIVE ACTIONS ON GUNS (NRA-ILA | January 8, 2016)
On Tuesday, the president announced a series of gun control actions in the form of “executive actions” during a lengthy press conference at the White House. Throughout, the president made it abundantly clear that restricting the rights of America’s law-abiding gun owners will remain his focus in the last year of his tenure.
We saw something very similar in January 2013, when Obama said he would not wait for Congress to act on gun control and unilaterally imposed 23 executive actions on guns, insisting they would help save lives. Then, as now, what was missing from Obama’s statements was any substantiation – or even any convincing explanation – of how his restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms would save lives, or impact public safety in a meaningful way.
Once again, we were asked to accept as an article of faith that diminishing the rights of the law-abiding will somehow influence the actions of violent criminals or others intent on harm.
Anti-gun elites and groups had been proclaiming for weeks that Obama was going to “close the private sale loophole” with one of his executive actions. What the president did, however, was something entirely different. He essentially warned gun owners that lawful behavior might not be, in fact, lawful.
Thanks to a carefully drafted statute enacted in 1986, the president had relatively little room to maneuver in this regard. Those reforms were part of the NRA-supported Firearm Owners’ Protection Act. They were enacted specifically in response to abusive practices by the ATF, which included treating occasional sales of personal firearms as unlicensed “dealing” or seizing private firearm collections, on the pretext that they were the “inventory” of illegal “dealers.”
At the end of the day, the administration’s big move on background checks was, instead, a 15-page brochure or “guidance” which explains the relevant federal statutes and regulations concerning firearms dealing and summarizing its view of the controlling case law. Even though the president cannot unilaterally expand the law, he can still instill fear in gun owners and intimidate them into believing that private transfers are now illegal. ATF can take his directive push the envelope with marginal cases that would be ignored in a less agenda-driven administration. They may well be looking to “make an example” of somebody, especially in the realm of sales advertised online.
Obviously, chilling otherwise lawful firearms transfers could be just as effective as restricting such activity with passage of a new law or regulation. There can be little doubt the president knows this and why he and administration officials have repeatedly said, “even 1 or 2 sales” can make one a dealer.
Based on evidence from past practices, the administration will likely try to have it both ways – revoke licenses for “dealers” who don’t sell a “sufficient” number of firearms, but prosecute those who sell a small number of firearms without a license. In the 1980’s for example, there was evidence of ATF revoking the FFL of a person because he only sold three guns during the year, while simultaneously prosecuting another person for selling three guns that year without a license. And during the Clinton administration, after ATF had forced low-volume private sellers to become FFLs, the agency then aggressively reduced the number of FFLs for lack of business activity.
On another front, one of Obama’s other announcements was that the Social Security Administration (SSA) continues to work on combing the rolls of its beneficiaries to find pretexts to report them to NICS as “mental defectives.” We had reported on this effort last summer, after the LA Times initially broke the story. The acting secretary of SSA assured Congress that the agency did not intend to follow the lead of the Veteran’s Administration and arbitrarily report every beneficiary that had another party appointed to assist the beneficiary with management of finances. Nevertheless, by the administration’s own admission, the pending move could affect 75,000 Social Security beneficiaries a year.
To date, SSA has not released details of its plan, but it appears that its rollout will at least be a formal and public rulemaking process. We will follow developments closely and keep you up to date on information you need to know and actions you need to take.
The administration also finally released its final rule in 41P, a rulemaking that originally would have expanded what amounts to a local law enforcement veto of applications under the National Firearms Act (NFA) to the realm of trusts and other legal entities. Your NRA filed lengthy comments in opposition to that rule, and was joined in that effort by thousands of other gun owners, lawyers, law enforcement officers, and industry members who also registered their disapproval.
As a result, not only does the final rule refrain from expanding the veto, it eliminates it from the NFA entirely, including in the realm of transfers to private individuals. The NFA’s so-called local “CLEO sign-off” procedure is no more, being replaced with simpler requirement to notify the local CLEO that an application has been filed.
Trusts and legal entities, however, will face more bureaucracy with NFA transactions, as they will now have to identify all “responsible persons” associated with the entity and provide photographs and fingerprints of them to ATF for the purpose of background checks. A responsible person means an individual in the organization who has the power and authority to direct the management and policies of the entity insofar as they pertain to firearms. NRA lawyers continue to comb through the lengthy final rule in 41P, and we will report more on it separately.
Obama also pledged to use the leverage of the U.S. government as the nation’s leading arms procurer to develop and promote the use of so-called “smart-gun” technology. During his press conference, he repeatedly referred to features of his iPhone and iPad and suggested that they could be incorporated into firearms. The White House press release seems to suggest that the plan is to phase in the technology through its adoption first by government agents, with the private sector presumably following suit after that.
Whatever the benefits of tracking features and fingerprint recognition might be in the public sector, however, individuals in the private market has shown little interest in trusting their safety and freedom to such technology. Time will tell what, if anything, will come of this. Although NRA is not opposed to the development of new firearms technology, we do not believe the government should be picking winners and losers in the marketplace. As with all advancements, the market itself should be the driver, with consumers the ultimate arbiter of which product developments will succeed.
Indeed, the onerous effects Obama’s executive actions in 2013 are not fully realized. Similarly, it will take time for the impact of his latest actions to be fully felt and understood. In the meantime, Obama continues his kingly rein, criminals and terrorists continue to blithely ignore the law, and the rest of us are left to parse through vague and confusing federal proclamations and “guidance” materials to hold onto what’s left of our rights.
MAYOR VENTS FRUSTRATION WITH NRA BY NIXING POLICE SECURITY AT GREAT AMERICAN OUTDOOR SHOW (By AWR Hawkins | Breitbart News | January 11, 2016)
The Democrat Mayor of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is withholding police security from the upcoming Great American Outdoor Show as a way to vent his frustration with the NRA for fighting the city on gun control.
Mayor Eric Papenfuse (D) said, “We have an epidemic of gun violence. It’s no secret that the NRA has worked against the city’s interests repeatedly over the past year causing us to spend tens of thousands of dollars to defend common sense gun ordinances. We don’t need to be doing them any favors.”
According to ABC 27, the Great American Outdoor Show has enjoyed police security in previous years. Usually “the city staffed officers and the NRA made a donation to Harrisburg City Police in return.” The donation last year “was $50,0000.” But this year, the money being donated by the NRA is going to the Civil War museum, which Mayor Papenfuse “wants to close.”
ABC 27 reports that the change in donation alone was not what caused Mayor Papenfuse to pull police security from the event. Rather, it appears to have been the NRA’s fight against gun control and the donation to the Civil War museum combined that pushed the Mayor to refuse police presence.
QUEBEC'S PROPOSED FIREARMS REGISTRY OPPOSED BY GUN ENTHUSIASTS (CBC News | January 9, 2015)
Gun enthusiasts are hoping to stop the Quebec government from resurrecting the long-gun registry, and are armed with a petition of 15,000 signatures.
At a gun show in Longueuil on Saturday, they added hundreds more and defended their stance.
"Bill 64 is an empty book," said Roland Côté, a retired RCMP officer, of the bill tabled on Dec. 3 at the National Assembly.
"There's nothing in it that will protect people. I don't see how engraving a firearm with a serial number is a security measure."
The proposed legislation would require every gun owner in the province to apply to the ministry to register all firearms.
Each firearm would be assigned a unique number by the ministry, and owners would be required to "affix it to the firearm in the manner prescribed by government regulation."
The penalty for an individual failing to register a gun would be a fine ranging from $500 to $5,000.
A more effective way of regulating guns, Côté said, is ensuring gun owners are trained properly, licenced, and given a photo ID that certifies this.
Gun enthusiasm may not have quite the reach in Quebec as south of the border, but it's enough to fill up a parking lot of an exhibition hall.
A group calling itself Tous contre un régistre québecois des armes à feu (All against a Quebec firearms registry) was highly visible among tables laden with rifles and memorabilia from the world wars.
It is the group that started the petition. It expects to present it to the government in March.
"It's a waste of money. The federal registry didn't help police to solve homicides," said Jessie McNicoll, a volunteer with the group.
Quebec tried to stop the previous federal government from scrapping gun data for the province when the federal long-gun registry was eliminated.
The province lost that battle in the Supreme Court, and now wants to start a new registry from scratch.
Moreau said the proposed registry would cost an estimated $17 million to establish and $5 million annually to maintain.
CANADA IN THE ROUGH – YUKON MOUNTAIN MONARCHS
Keith chases giant mountain caribou in the remote Yukon wilderness. The encounters with moose and northern lights are epic as they ride through the mountains by horseback. The rugged terrain and stunning landscape make for an amazing adventure.
See the teaser: http://www.canadaintherough.com/yukon-mountain-monarchs/
Canada in the Rough can be found on OLN, WILD TV, and CHEX. For a full schedule, visit: http://www.canadaintherough.com/schedules/
SASK. GUN OWNERS WARY OF LIBERALS (By Natascia Lypny | Regina Leader-Post | January 11, 2016)
Gun owners in Saskatchewan are watching the new Liberal government with a sideways glance.
Bill Temple, chairman of Saskatchewan Gun Collectors Association show, which held its 55th annual event over the weekend in Regina, is "quite convinced" the Liberals will bring back the long-gun registry.
This despite the party explicitly saying it won't revive the program, which Stephen Harper's Conservative government dismantled.
Temple has mixed feelings on Canada's gun laws, saying the country has "some fairly good, common-sense" ones but others are "too extreme" and they "do absolutely no good whatsoever to take the guns out of the hands of the criminals."
The Liberals gun control platform was based on just that: Keeping handguns and assault weapons off the street. It proposed, among other things: Repealing changes that allow restricted and prohibited weapons to be transported without a permit; beefing up background checks for people who want to buy a restricted firearm like a handgun; requiring vendors confirm a buyer's firearm licence is valid; requiring vendors to keep records of inventory and sales; and implementing imported gun marking regulations.
Temple is in favour of background checks that help "keeps guns out of the hands of people with mental problems" and agreed that gun laws should be aimed at criminals. But those tend to be a "big, wide broom that sweeps everybody up," he said, including the target shooters and hunters at the gun show.
The Regina gun show held at the Turvey Centre on Jan. 9, 2016.
That's why Kim Barbeau, president of the Qu'Appelle Handgun Club, wants Canada's gun laws to stay the way they are.
"That's what I think most of us are hoping: That it doesn't get worse," he said. He fears more restrictions, especially on handguns.
"I don't think we need very much improvement at all," agreed Ernie Gazdewich, owner of Ernesto's Guns & Such in Canora.
Gazdewich is concerned about the Liberals' plans for imported gun marking regulations. He said that will drive the price of firearms up hundreds of dollars.
Since taking office, the Liberals have been relatively quiet on gun control. Meanwhile, the conversation continues to burn red-hot south of the border. For the folks at the gun show, there's no comparing the two countries when it comes to firearms.
"We don't tend to be so aggressive with it," said Barbeau.
"We don't have a gun culture per se like the Americans have," added Temple.
"The United States have a Hollywood mentality. They believe what they see in the movies about themselves. They think everything can be solved with a gun. I'm glad I don't live there."
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AUSTRALIA: CANBERRA GUN MAKER APPEALS DECISION PREVENTING IT FROM DESIGNING VICTORIAN POLICE SNIPER RIFLES (By Jordan Hayne | ABC | January 11, 2016)
A Canberra gun maker is appealing what it calls an "unfair" decision by the ACT Firearms Registry, which prevented the business from designing the next generation of sniper rifles for Victoria Police.
Late last year Canberra-based GC Precision Developments was approached by Victoria Police to design high-powered rifles for use by special operations groups, and to present prototypes for evaluation.
However the ACT Deputy Firearms Registrar rejected the company's request to fit the rifles with suppressors and collapsing stocks, both of which were required by the brief.
Both modifications are illegal in the ACT, however GC Precision Developments applied for a permit to allow the manufacture of the items.
However according to company director Gareth Crook, the Deputy Registrar claimed it was impossible to approve the modifications under the Firearms Act, despite having issued identical permits to other gun dealers in the past.
"It was stated that he didn't have discretion under the firearms act to issue these permits," Mr Crook said.
"I was actually given a signed copy of a prohibited weapons articles permit for the manufacturing of self-made suppressors by another identically licensed firearms dealer.
"This permit was approved two months before my application was denied.
"We feel that we've been singled out as a company, and that there's a gross level of procedural unfairness displayed by the ACT Firearms Registry."
Mr Crook said the decision had hurt his company financially, and had the potential to erode the confidence of his clients.
He has been granted a review of the decision, and the matter will appear before the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal on Friday.
The ACT Deputy Firearms Registrar declined to comment.
ARMENIAN GENOCIDE DIDN’T HAPPEN BY ACCIDENT (By Stephen P. Halbrook | Independent Institute | May 18, 2015)
Hundreds of news stories have been written during the past month reporting on the 100-year anniversary of one of the darkest events in world history, a two-year killing spree that claimed the lives of an estimated 800,000 to 1.5 million Armenians.
Virtually none of these news stories, however, bothered to mention why the Armenians were defenseless against their rulers in the then Ottoman Empire: because the Ottomans had disarmed them—the same tool that would enable the Nazis, two decades later, to enslave and then slaughter European Jewry.
While the remnant of the Ottoman Empire, today’s Turkey, disputes many of the details having to do with the Armenian genocide, most historians agree on certain basic facts. First, that the Christian Armenians had long been denied basic rights under the Ottomans’ Muslim law. Second, they were excluded from participation in the government. And third, Ottoman law made it a crime to possess a firearm without government permission. The Armenians, as British traveler H. F. B. Lynch wrote in 1901, were “rigorously prohibited from possessing firearms.”
After the Ottomans joined Germany in World War I—and a British invasion seemed imminent—the Turks decided to deport the Armenians, who they considered untrustworthy, to the interior. This deportation process became a death march, as thousands, and then tens of thousands, were murdered on their way to nowhere.
The 1915 deportation decree imposed the death penalty not only for armed resistance, but also for hiding or even helping someone else hide. The Ottomans also decreed that any firearms the Armenians possessed were to be surrendered to the government. Failing to do so, the decree said, “will be very severely punished when the arms are discovered.”
Ottoman authorities swept down on Armenian towns to search for guns. Villagers were tortured to induce confessions about hidden arms. Mass executions were ordered.
In Germany, the process started in a far more innocuous fashion. Political turmoil in the Weimar Republic between Communist and Nazi extremists led to the enactment of firearms restrictions requiring citizens to obtain government permission, under arbitrary standards, to obtain firearms. Of course, only law-abiding citizens bothered to do so.
At the end of 1931, firearm registration was imposed. And just over a year later, in 1933, Adolf Hitler seized power. The Nazis immediately used the registration records to disarm and crush the Social Democrats and other political opponents that they castigated as “enemies of the state.” The era of concentration camps had begun.
The Jews’ turn came in the fall of 1938, when the Nazis turned up the heat on the Jewish community, seizing economic assets and working to expel them from the country.
The seeds of the Holocaust were being planted. Police in Berlin and throughout Germany ordered all Jews to turn in their firearms. Thanks to registration records, they knew who they were. Many lined up at police stations to surrender their guns; those who didn’t had their houses ransacked and were arrested.
Once the Jews were disarmed, the trap was set. Kristallnacht, or the Night of the Broken Glass, erupted. Storm trooper thugs vandalized Jewish homes and stores and torched synagogues. Jews were beaten and murdered. Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS, decreed that gun possession by a Jew was punishable by 20 years in a concentration camp. Some 20,000 Jewish men were incarcerated.
Then war came, and by 1942 the “final solution of the Jewish question.” Jews were searched for arms one last time and then deported to the death camps. Six million were murdered.
The Armenian genocide and the Holocaust are not the only instances in which brutal despots have disarmed their victims and then murdered them.
Similar tactics were used in Stalin’s Russia, Idi Amin’s Uganda, and Pol Pot’s Cambodia.
Americans need to keep such events in mind the next time Washington seeks to limit gun ownership rights - or seeks to require gun registration. One cannot argue with history.
See the story: www: http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=7376
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