Tuesday, December 31, 2002
The NFA has been steadfast in urging all firearm owners to obey the laws and remain non-criminal. What will happen when Ms. Gun Owner submits an application to register in ample time, say at least 2 months prior to the deadline, to get her registration certificates? She waits and waits, calls and complains, but no certificates arrive in her mailbox.
NFA Note: The Minister announced that he would give people until 30 Jun 2003, but made no changes to the law and did not set up an amnesty. Therefore, the law still says that Ms. Gun owner will be criminalized as of midnight, 31 Dec 2003.
At the stroke of midnight, she is going to become a criminal, so what should she do to not be in possession of unregistered guns on January 1 2003? If they are hidden off her property (but properly stored), is she no longer in possession, or does she have to destroy the guns to remain a non criminal?
Regina versus Abell: Abell applied to register a machine gun shortly before 01 Jan 1978, the cutoff date for new owners of machine guns. They sat on her application until the deadline passed, and then refused to register.
Result: The court ruled that they had to process her application under the law as it was on the date that they received it. She had an "accrued right" to receive the document (registration certificate) even though the Commissioner of the RCMP could no longer legally issue it. He was forced by the court to issue her registration certificate.
This is a similar problem. Once you have done everything required of you, the government cannot prosecute you as a
result of its own failure to issue the needed document.