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12(6) Handguns–What Now?

INSERT: This exercise is proceeding satisfactorily. Hundreds–perhapss even a few thousand–of 12(6) handgun owners have filed for their reference hearings. They will probably be successful–while those who complied with the instructions in the government’s bullying letters seem to have lost their chance of “grandfathering.”Right now, the bureaucrats are regretting this gun grab. They’re, as usual, way over budget–and now they seem committed to confiscating little handguns at a cost of
between $3000 and $20,000 per handgun, the cost to government of fighting a reference hearing–at the FIRST level.

The Conservatives are looking for a way around this problem, but right now the bureaucrats are stalled. Asking for a reference hearing puts everything on “hold.”
Nothing can happen until the reference hearing is completely over–even if it takes years and goes all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. Once is is finally finished, then and only then does does the time (usually 30 days) that the owner was given to get rid of his or her little handgun begin.

To all of you who have asked for a referene hearing, I thank you, the NFA thanks you, and the recreational firearms community thanks you. Your courage and intelligence have stopped the Liberal gun grab in its tracks…with a little help from the NFA. The issues at stake have turned out to be far more complex and far more difficult to deal with than the bureaucrats expected.

David A Tomlinson
National President
National Firearms Association


> I plan on appealing the decision not to issue my registration for a prohibited firearm. Should I get a lawyer or can I handle the appeal myself?


Bill C-15, which became Bill C-10, which became Bill C-10A, was designed to legitimize two groups of FS s. 12(6) handguns– those in the possession of people like you, and those in the possession of firearms dealers. Bill C-10A was brought into force too late to help you, but it did legitimize the 12(6) handguns in the hands of dealers. Therefore, the effect of Bill C-10A was, in practice, discriminatory, contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, section 15.


> Years ago we took your advice and bought a prohibited firearm (very cheap) in hopes of getting my wife grandfathered. Two friends did the same. Everyone signed a waiver saying they understood that these guns may be confiscated.


Those waivers were and are meaningless, they have no legal effect.


> She applied for a registration certificate, and received a green paper one, as the law required at that time. That certificate expired on 31 Dec 2002 as a result of the provisions of Firearms Act section 127(2)(b).


> > My friends have been received mail concerning the status of their guns. My wife has received nothing. Last week my friends got a registered letter telling them they had until the end of the year to dispose of the prohibited guns.


Those “final” letters were illegal. They were a refusal to issue a registration certificate, issued under the authority of Firearms Act section 72, but they did not conform to the requirements laid out in FA s. 72. For example, they did not contain “a copy of [Firearms Act] sections 74 to 81,” as required by law.


By sending those letters in that form, they apparently violated Criminal Code section 126 by doing something that “contravenes an Act of Parliament” by “willfully doing something omitting to do anything it requires.” That is an indictable offence, and the penalty is up to two years imprisonment.


What to do once a “final” letter has been received:


1. If you have access to someone who knows provincial court judges in your area, ask for the name of a judge who is friendly to firearms owners.


2. If you don’t, phone the provincial court house and ask for the name of a provincial court judge. DO NOT discuss why you want it, because that will set the clerk on a path of complex requirements that are NOT appropriate to this situation because this situation is different in the law to what the clerk is used to.


3. Write to the PCJ at the court house, saying:


(a) I have been refused a registration certificate by the attached (photocopy of) letter.


(b) I believe that this letter is illegal, because it does not conform to the law (FA s. 72).


(c) I believe that the writer violated Criminal Code section 126 when he sent me this, and I believe that if I do what he tells me to do, he will also be guilty of violating CC s. 380(1)(b) (the law against fraud). (Often, judges are bored by the endless stream of criminals in their courts. This complex mishmash of complicated legal issues gives them something they can get their teeth into.)


(d) I hereby refer this matter to you, personally, under FA s. 74(1) so that you, personally, may set up a reference hearing as required by FA s. 75(1).


By doing that, you force the firearms control bureaucrats to prepare for the reference hearing, which will cost them between $3000 and $20,000. It really is an expensive way to confiscate little handguns, but it is merely a citizen taking advantage of a right offered to him in the law. You apparently are able to choose which provincial court judge you would like to have hear the case, because the law is written so that you are offered that.


Additionally, it has another effect. You will be given “a reasonable period of time” to legally dispose of the little handgun. That period (no matter what the “final” letter says) “does not begin until after the reference is finally disposed of” [FA s. 72(6)].

Some people will fight the reference hearing with a lawyer, and may appeal the verdict to higher and higher courts. Some will fight it themselves, and may also appeal to higher courts. Some will fail to appear for it. Some are in one set of circumstances, some in another. It is not possible to cover all the possible variations here, so if you find this unclear, call (780)439-1394 (preferably between 8 and 11 AM, Alberta time) or send an email to

But–regardless of how it is handled, or what the particular issues are, it will cost the firearms control bureaucrats $3000 to $20,000 out of their budget to prepare their case.


We didn’t write this defective law–they did.


David A Tomlinson
National President