David Opinko | Lethbridge News Now | April 13, 2022
LETHBRIDGE, AB – The province is going ahead with recommendations that it says will further protect the rights of law-abiding firearms owners.
The Alberta Firearms Advisory Committee submitted its report to the Government of Alberta in February 2021.
Justice Minister Tyler Shandro says all of the recommendations have been accepted.
“Our government is continuing to assert its provincial jurisdiction and ensure the rights of law-abiding firearms owners are protected. Thank you to the Alberta Firearms Advisory Committee for engaging Albertans for their essential guidance as we empower our chief firearms office to support responsible firearms owners.”
The recommendations are as follows:
- Advocate for policy changes to the federal Firearms Act
- Explore opportunities to secure a fair deal for Albertans within the administration of the Canadian Firearms Program, including the protection of property rights.
- Advocate for the efficient, consistent, and lawful administration of federal services, such as processing times for licences, transfers, authorizations, and acquisitions.
- Advocate for clear and unambiguous federal firearms legislation and regulations that further enhance public safety. Communicate federal legislation and regulation changes clearly and effectively to licensed Alberta firearms owners.
- Continue to assess the Justice and Solicitor General’s role as an intervener in ongoing federal court challenges against the 2020 firearms ban to better assert areas of provincial jurisdiction and maintain greater control over gun regulation.
- Create an Alberta Firearms Public Policy Committee comprising of the chief provincial firearms officer and a wide range of representatives from the firearms community.
- Educational initiatives
- Develop and implement an ongoing public education campaign to promote safe firearms use, highlight the important role the chief provincial firearms office plays in strengthening safe communities, and enhance mutual respect and understanding between all Albertans on firearms issues.
- Organize a Firearms Safety Week to celebrate Alberta’s long history of responsible firearms ownership and highlight safety. The week would encompass Provincial Hunting Day, which is typically held on the fourth Saturday in September.
- Plan and launch a website where all Albertans can find a wide range of safety and security information, such as home security tools and resources.
- Ensure education plays a major role in creating safe streets and communities by enhancing and promoting training for law-abiding firearms owners, other interested community members, and the chief provincial firearms office staff.
- Connect regularly with all stakeholders from across the firearms community, including youth groups, school groups, Indigenous and victims’ organizations, as part of an ongoing and inclusive strategic engagement process.
- Build a strong public presence in the firearms community by consistently supporting a wide range of positive initiatives, including attending gun shows, sporting competitions, and other key events.
- Liaise with the appropriate organizations to explore possibilities for the creation of safe hunting/firearms safety courses for youth.
- Foster collaborative relationships
- Identify opportunities for the chief provincial firearms office to work more closely with the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT) to enhance engagement with all Alberta law enforcement agencies and focus on illicit firearms crime, such as smuggling, illegal firearms manufacturing, and straw purchasing. Other partner organizations include the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service, the RCMP, the Alberta Sheriffs, and border agencies.
- Coordinate with the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service on the potential development of alternative measures programs to divert less serious firearms offences from the criminal trial process, saving the justice system time and resources. These alternative approaches would be focused on firearms-related offences where the public interest in prosecuting the matter might be met by alternative sanctions outside of the criminal justice system, such as licence restrictions or further safety training.
- Build an even stronger national advocacy network to increase our ability to advocate for sound policies and stand up for law-abiding Albertans.
- Promote sport shooting, hunting, heritage, and conservation by supporting and developing local firearms communities, including firearms clubs and ranges.
- Improve the process of gathering data on firearms-related issues from partner agencies to collect better information and make better policy decisions.
Michaela Frey, MLA for Brooks-Medicine Hat and Chair of the Alberta Firearms Advisory Committee, says the recommendations follow public consultations that include town hall meetings and an online survey.
“After extensive consultations with Alberta firearm owners and many hours of committee work, I am elated to see this report released. This report, and the recommendations that underpin it, will allow Alberta to push back against the federal government’s repeated intrusions into provincial jurisdiction.”
As part of the province’s work to improve firearms regulations, they appointed Alberta’s first-ever Chief Firearms Officer (CFO) in August 2021.
CFO Teri Bryant says the work of this committee is very important.
“As Alberta’s first provincially appointed chief firearms officer, I am meeting with the firearms community about how my office can help improve public safety while protecting individual property rights. Learning more about our unique firearm culture in Alberta is informing the work we are taking on, and I look forward to continuing to engage with these passionate and law-abiding Albertans.”
Use the following link to read the full report from the Alberta Firearms Advisory Committee.