Canada really needs a legal definition of the word “variant” as it applies to firearms.
In addition to the growing list of 12-gauge shotguns[i] banned through Bill Blair’s Order In Council, we discovered the RCMP Canadian Firearms Program (CFP) is now operating under a very Liberal interpretation of the term “variant”.
Prohibited Weapons Order No. 13 classified the AK-47 as a Prohibited firearm. The specific language reads:
“The firearm of the design commonly known as the AK-47 rifle, and any variant or modified version of it…”
On May 14th the CFP reclassified the Saiga 410C Semi-Automatic Shotgun as a Prohibited firearm because its plastic stock resembles the infamous Soviet battle rifle.[ii]
This kind of nonsense shows why this term must be defined in law as long as law continues to use these kinds of descriptors.
In 2016, (retired) Conservative MP Larry Miller introduced Private Member’s Bill C-230[iii], An Act to amend the Criminal Code (firearm — definition of variant), specifically to prevent this sort of abuse of Canada’s firearm classification system.
Bill C-230 defined variant as:
variant, in respect of a firearm, means a firearm that has the unmodified frame or receiver of another firearm.
In other words, unless a gun could accept parts from a Prohibited firearm, it could not be defined as a variant of that firearm.
For example, a shotgun with a stock designed to resemble an AK-47 (case in point – the Saiga 410C) would not make it a “variant” of the AK-47.
Any rational definition of “variant” – when applied to firearms – would mean a firearm must share common parts with a Prohibited firearm. By the RCMP’s current definition, every car on the road would be a variant of a Ford Model T.
The RCMP Canadian Firearms Program lost sight of common sense and rationality decades ago and, under Minister Bill Blair’s dubious leadership, the CFP is now torquing language to mean whatever their boss wants it to mean.
The operation of RCMP Specialized Support Services (firearms lab) needs an overhaul in the biggest way. When this tiresome Liberal government changes, we hope a significant re-vamp is in the tea leaves for the new government.