December 15, 2022
The Alberta government is recommending prosecutors don’t pursue charges against firearms owners whose guns were deemed illegal under the Trudeau government’s 2020 order in council.
A news release from the province said Alberta is taking back constitutional jurisdiction for handling charges under the Firearms Act, and Alberta’s Crown prosecutors will now determine whether or not to pursue charges.
“While respecting operational independence on individual cases, the new protocol issued by the attorney general provides prosecutors with guidance on how to evaluate the public interest when determining whether or not to pursue charges,” the release reads.
The province’s new protocol says it’s not in the public interest to proceed with prosecuting a charge of possession of a banned firearm when: The accused lawfully obtained the firearm or prohibited device prior to May 1, 2020. the firearm or prohibited device was reclassified as prohibited on May 1, 2020; and when the accused has not been charged with any other offences related to the possession or use of that firearm.
In May 2020, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced he was banning more than 1,500 models of firearms, including guns explicitly used for sport shooting and hunting. The government put an amnesty in place until October 2023.
When that amnesty expires, Albertans who still possess their legally-acquired property could face jail time under the Criminal Code.
Justice Minister Tyler Shandro says Albertans should not automatically be considered criminals because they own a firearm that was legally purchased and possessed.
“This new protocol for prosecutors will help prevent otherwise law-abiding individuals from facing criminal charges and potential time in jail,” Shandro said in a statement.
“At the same time, law enforcement and prosecution resources can be prioritized for actual violent and repeat offenders while not further clogging our already busy courts.”
Alberta Chief Firearms Officer Teri Bryant said the steps will ensure public safety is taken into consideration “when assessing whether charges against otherwise law-abiding citizens are appropriate.”
In September, Shandro said he would obstruct the gun grab by any means necessary. He also said he wrote to the RCMP that the confiscation scheme is not a provincial priority and is an inappropriate use of RCMP resources.
Saskatchewan, Manitoba and New Brunswick have since joined Alberta in opposing Ottawa’s bid to use local policing resources as confiscation agents.