Taxpayers do not have “another billion dollars” to spare for a government program that police say won’t make us any safer

Kris SimsAlberta Premier Danielle Smith is making the right move by trying to shield thousands of Alberta firearms owners from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s wasteful gun grab.

Analysts are warning that the last-minute expansion of the federal government’s Bill C-21 to include thousands of commonly-owned long guns will cost taxpayers a billion dollars, while history teaches us this gun grab will be a huge waste of money.

Police also say the massive seizure of rifles and shotguns from hunters, ranchers and sports shooters will not make Canadians safer.

“The narrative is that we need to restrict gun ownership because that will curtail crime when really the evidence is that illegal gun trafficking leads to criminals owning guns, which leads to crimes with firearms,” said National Police Federation president Brian Sauvé in November of 2020. “So, really, we need to look at the source of the problem.”

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Last month, Alberta Attorney General Tyler Shandro announced the province of Alberta would assume jurisdiction of firearms-related criminal code cases rather than relinquishing the duty to the federal government.

The Alberta government will also provide guidance to the crown and police to not enforce Trudeau’s latest federal gun confiscation.

“These (Ottawa’s) actions will criminalize hundreds of thousands of Canadians overnight, the majority of (whom) reside in western Canada, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that the federal Liberal government is pursuing a strategy to ban all legal firearms ownership,” said Shandro.

The minister’s concerns reflect those of many firearms owners: if the Trudeau government will seize rifles and shotguns that thousands of Canadians have had in their homes for years, where does this action stop?

Alberta is home to about 328,700 gun owners. Ranchers eliminate coyotes with rifles. Hunters bag deer in the fall and put it in the family deep freeze. Target shooters compete at marksmanship meets. Firearms are a huge part of the culture here.

Contrary to what some folks with no experience with legal firearms may believe, getting a gun license is an arduous undertaking.

To legally own any firearm in Canada, you must undergo a criminal records check and a thorough background check with upstanding citizens who have known you for several years. Your spouse is also contacted.

You have to attend a mandatory training course, usually run by a retired Mountie, and you have to nearly ace your tests to pass. That’s just to own a rifle or a shotgun. Legally owning a handgun, such as a pistol or a revolver, takes even longer and comes with many more restrictions.

Some politicians who are trying to take guns away from hunters and ranchers are using the term “semi-automatic” to make firearms sound ominous. That term simply means when you squeeze the trigger, the gun fires. Then you have to squeeze the trigger again to make it fire again. Squeeze-bang. Squeeze-bang. The “machine guns” in action movies, where someone can spray bullets by holding the trigger down, have been banned in Canada since the 1970s.

Alberta’s Chief Firearms Officer, Teri Bryant, warned that Ottawa’s move would criminalize many law-abiding firearms owners across the country, and the attempted confiscation would be wasteful.

“The precious resources taxpayers entrust to us are not unlimited, and we must direct them to where they will do the most good,” said Bryant. “This means rejecting measures that are founded on sensationalistic calls for restrictions that are costly, ineffective and lacking in any evidentiary basis.”

The failed federal long gun registry imposed by the federal government in the 1990s cost Canadian taxpayers an estimated $2 billion before it was finally abandoned and scrapped.

Analysts warn the cost of this current so-called “buy back” seizure of Canadians’ private property is also about to skyrocket. Firearms owners don’t yet know how much money they will even receive as compensation for the government taking their guns, but the price tag for taxpayers is ballooning fast.

“That is another billion dollars – because so many popular long guns will be caught by it,” said Gary Mauser, Simon Fraser University criminologist, of Bill C-21.

Canada is more than $1 trillion in debt and the Trudeau government has a serious spending problem.

Taxpayers do not have “another billion dollars” to spare for a government program that police say won’t make us any safer.

Kris Sims is the Alberta Director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and a firearms owner.

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