Sunday, February 20, 2005
The Classification Mess
In the beginning, the government intended to confiscate every .25, .32 and short-barreled handgun (small handgun class, which the National Firearms Association calls SHG) in Canada -- with no payment of compensation to the owners.
The National Firearms Association pointed out that we could probably win a court case forcing them to pay -- and that the bill would be extremely high. Figure it out -- they were proposing to confiscate 58 per cent of all handguns in Canada, and their registry said there are about 1.25 million handguns in Canada. 58 per cent of 1.25 million handguns is 725,000 handguns. If the owners demanded an average of $200 per handgun, and got it, the total cost would be 725,000 times $200 -- or $145,000,000.
The government then amended their proposed bill, adding "grandfathering" to Bill C-68 before passing it -- allowing owners to keep their SHGs until they died. Their pattern of "grandfathering" was very complicated. It used both "grandfathered" guns and "grandfathered" owners. (They had used "grandfathering" before, for full automatic firearm owners, in 1978.)
There is some doubt as to whether "grandfathering" is legal in a criminal law situation.
The definition of an SHG is found in Criminal Code section [CC s.] 84(1) [class] "prohibited firearm" [subclass] (a), which says:
- 84. (1) "prohibited firearm" means
- (a) a handgun that
- (i) has a barrel equal to or less than 105mm in length, or
- (ii) is designed or adapted to discharge a 25 or 32 calibre cartridge,
- but does not include any such handgun that is prescribed [by an Order in Council], where the handgun is for use in international sporting competitions governed by the rules of the International Shooting Union.
There is no "grandfathering" of guns in that subsection, or anywhere else in the Criminal Code.
The "grandfathering" shows up in Firearms Act section [FA s.] 12, where both people and guns are "grandfathered."
- 12. (6) A particular individual is eligible to hold a licence authorizing [him] to possess [SHGs] for which, on February 14, 1995, a registration certificate