Joseph Schow stands with Alberta Premier Danielle Smith after being sworn into cabinet as House Leader in Edmonton on Oct. 24, 2022. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)
By Marnie Cathcart
The Epoch Times
March 2, 2023Updated: March 2, 2023
Alberta says it will table legislation this month to “protect firearms owners from the federal firearms confiscation program.”
Bill 8, the Alberta Firearms Act, is one of three bills the United Conservative government has prioritized for the short spring session of the 30th legislature, which ends March 31.
“It is important that we’re defending firearm owners in this province, and making sure that Albertans feel as though this government has their back,” said House Leader Joseph Schow at a March 1 news conference.
A spokesperson for Alberta Justice, Ethan Lecavalier-Kidney, told The Epoch Times that details regarding the specific legislation will become available once the bill is tabled, which will occur this month.
Schow said that “a number of firearms owners in the province have reached out” to him and other MPs, and that Albertans “feel the federal legislation is an overreach.”
In response, the province is “taking action within our abilities to protect legal firearms owners,” said Schow. He said the province needs to codify the responsibilities of the Chief Firearms Officer.
The bill “would protect firearms owners from the federal firearms confiscation program and establish a provincial firearms regulatory system that will promote the safe and responsible use of firearms,” the government said in a March 1 statement.
In 2020, the federal government issued a ban on more than 1,500 models of previously legal firearms. In October 2022, the government put a freeze on the transfer and importation of handguns, which effectively bans handgun ownership in Canada.
The legislation was paired with a buyback program that proposed to compensate owners for firearms that were confiscated under the ban.
In December, the government tabled sweeping last-minute amendments to Bill C-21, which if passed, would ban most semi-automatic shotguns and rifles—including many hunting shotguns and rifles purchased legally. The proposed amendments would also ban any gun that can hold a detachable magazine.
The bill and sweeping last-minute amendments sparked an uproar from firearms owners and opposition parties, who say it targets hunters, farmers, ranchers, and sport shooters and involves thousands of popular, common makes and models of rifles and shotguns—most of which are unregistered and were legally purchased by vetted, trained, licensed gun owners.
Opposition members stopped the Commons public safety committee from passing C-21, and pushed for at least eight public hearings on the bill, to include rural, northern, and indigenous communities.
Funding approval for MP’s travel related to these meetings cannot be approved until April, with the start of a new fiscal year. As such, the passage of the bill has been delayed until spring.
Justice Minister Tyler Shandro previously said the federal government’s legislation “will criminalize hundreds of thousands of Canadians overnight—the majority of which reside in Western Canada.”
The Alberta government, on Jan 11, was granted intervenor status by the Federal Court, to intervene in six lawsuits related to federally proposed firearms laws that would ban more than 1,500 models of firearms.