Opinion Column

Mounties trample Canadian gun owners

Leo Knight Prime Time Crime columnist 24 hours (PHOTO SUBMITTED).

By Leo Knight, Law and Order, 24 hours Vancouver

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Commissioner Bob Paulson. (REUTERS)

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Commissioner Bob Paulson. (REUTERS)

The RCMP recently reclassified the Swiss Arms Classic Green carbine as a prohibited weapon. With the stroke of a pen, the Mounties essentially criminalized more than 1,000 Canadians who own the weapon. How or why they did this remains confusing and, as yet, unanswered by the RCMP.

This was done without the consideration of the federal government, responsible for changes to the Criminal Code of Canada and the Firearms Act, which defines what is a restricted weapon and what is a prohibited weapon. On the surface, this seems to be a dramatic overreach. The RCMP was given the responsibility for administration of the Firearms Act in 2006.

Administration is one thing — deciding what should or should not be legal is a whole other kettle of fish.

Federal Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney called for an “urgent review” of the “unfortunate decision” and vowed not to let it happen again. The government later issued an Order in Council granting amnesty as a temporary measure to blunt what the Mounties tried to do.

This comes after last summer’s controversy in High River, Alta. The RCMP in that flood-ravaged town entered residences that were vacated on police orders when the waters were at their zenith. The Mounties kicked in doors and seized whatever firearms they could find, ostensibly for safety reasons. Since then, they have been anything but transparent in explaining themselves to the public.

I am often accused of being an apologist for the police. In reality, I explain things in a manner the police cannot seem to do themselves. But this latest action, and what happened in High River, simply puzzles me.

The police are not legislators. Our system of government requires that we elect MPs and the party with the most members in the House of Commons forms government. The government has the right and responsibility to enact legislation that the RCMP are to enforce. They cannot and should not have the legal ability to decide themselves what should or should not be criminalized.

The commissioner of the RCMP, Bob Paulson, has his hands full trying to combat the culture of bullying and harassment in that organization. Why he would agree to this bureaucratic overreach is stunning.

Canada is not a police state. If Paulson does not understand this, he needs to be replaced. And frankly, that’s not the only reason.

Leo Knight is a former police officer, security expert and host of primetimecrime.com.  


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