New 03 March 2005: FA s. 12(3) Converted Semi-Automatic Firearms
The letter below is now somewhat obsolete. The situation will be transformed on 03 April 2005, IF Bill C-10A is proclaimed and becomes law, unless Bill C-10A’s new Firearms Act subsection 19(2) is not proclaimed and does not become law.
Subsection 19 (2) of Bill C-10A says:
- 19. (2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), an individual may not be authorized to transport a prohibited firearm, other than a handgun referred to in subsection 12(6.1) [.25, .32, or barrel equal to or shorter than 105mm/4.14″], under that subsection, except for the purposes referred to in paragraph [FA s.] (1)(b) [transporting for residence change, for registration or disposition, for repair, storage, sale, exportation or appraisal, or to and from a gun show.]
The new subsection thus adds a new prohibition to a subsection that used to allow the issuance of ATTs for FA s. 12(3) firearms for the purposes of target shooting and demonstrations.
Many FA s. 12(3) firearms are historically important firearms, and this is an attempt to prevent them from being seen — actually firing — by anyone. It is a denial of one part of our Canadian firearms heritage. It is an attempt to take disputes about this issue out of the hands of the courts.
It should therefore be fought, and fought hard. If this goes through, and is accepted, we can expect a ban on all semi-automatic firearms in the near future — something that has already happened in Australia. We can also expect a total ban on all handguns — something that has already happened in Britain. THIS IS A TEST TO SEE HOW YOU WILL REACT.
I ask YOU to write a letter to the Minister of Justice:
Hon. Irwin Cotler, MoJ and AG
900 Justice Bldg
House of Commons
Send copies of your letters to NFA, Box 52183, EDMONTON AB, T6G 2T5, and to G Breitkreuz, MP, 452-D Centre Block, House of Commons, OTTAWA ON, K1A 0A6, and to your MP.
Tell Mr. Cotler how disgusted you are with his total failure to “reduce violent crime” as his government promised its gun control system would.
Tell him that he cannot “reduce violent crime” by imposing more controls on honest firearms owners and users, and that you are tired of his Party’s attempts to disguise total failure by attacking us.
Tell him that this latest attack has made you very interested in politics, and that you intend to be very active in the next federal election — and that you will work, and donate, and actively do anything possible to make sure his political Party is not re-elected.
Tell him you will do this unless Bill C-10A’s subsection 19(2) is not proclaimed, and does not become the law of Canada.
The one thing a politician deeply cares about is being re-elected as part of a government.
David A Tomlinson, National President
David Migadel, CFO
720 – 10909 Jasper Ave
05 Jan 2005 ATT12(3)Let
The National President of the National Firearms Association, commissioned me to investigate and report on the issuance of Authroizations to Transport (ATTs) covering the transportation of firearms defined in Firearms Act section (FA s.) 12(3) “for use in target practice, or a target shooting competition, under specified conditions or under the auspices of a shooting club or shooting range that is approved under [FA] section 29 [FA s. 18].”
I enclose a copy of my report.
While it is quite possible for a firearms control official to read FA s. 18 as precluding him from issuing such an ATT, it is equally possible to read FA s. 18 as neutral on that question, and leaving the decision to issue or to refuse to issue in the hands of the issuing official.
Your official may refuse to issue, provided that he does so in accordance with the procedure set forth in FA s. 72 to 81. Such a refusal may be taken, by the applicant, to a reference hearing before a provincial court judge.
Until such a judge has made his ruling on such a case, it is not possible to be certain which interpretation of the law is correct. Once such a judge has made such a ruling, it is still not possible to know which ruling is correct until such a case has been appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC), and the SCC has ruled on the issue.
It seems certain that refusals will become the subjects of reference hearings, and that refusals will lead to a long period of uncertainty. It might be worth while, in the interests of everyone concerned, to make certain that the issuing officials are aware of the problems, and of the probable consequences of refusal.
As I see it, this situation can develop as a matter of confrontation, or be resolved peacefully. If the government chooses the confrontational route, the applicants may well multiply and start an organized campaign to initiate as many reference hearings as possible — with some of them in very awkward locations. The confrontational route leads directly into major spending by the government, in an area that is already seen by many taxpayers as the graveyard of far too many tax dollars.
David A Tomlinson, NFA Legal
AUTHORIZATION TO TRANSPORT A FA s. 12(3) FIREARM
At first glance, FA s. 18 would appear to preclude issuance of an ATT covering transport of a FA s. 12(3) firearm “for use in target practice, or a target shooting competition, under specified conditions or under the auspices of a shooting club or shooting range that is approved under [FA] section 29.”
However, it should be noted that while that language explicitly authorizes the issuance of ATTs covering the use of FA s. 12(6) and 12(7) firearms “for use in target practice, or a target shooting competition, under specified conditions or under the auspices of a shooting club or shooting range that is approved under [FA] section 29,” it contains no language that would prohibit the issuance of ATTs covering FA s. 12(3) firearms “for use in target practice, or a target shooting competition, under specified conditions or under the auspices of a shooting club or shooting range that is approved under [FA] section 29.” The section is permissive, not prohibitory.
Similarly, Regulation 14 of the Special Authority to Possess Regulations is written as a permissive regulation, not a prohibitory one. It authorizes a chief firearms officer of a province, in Regulation 4(a) and (b), to issue authorizations to cover “the possession of a firearm referred to in section 13 [FA s. 12(2), (3), (4), (5) firearms] “at a shooting range and in the course of transporting” such a firearm, but there is no prohibitory language whatever.
Under “Shooting Clubs and Shooting Ranges” Regulation 1, a “shooting range” is defined as “a place that is designed and intended for the safe discharge, on a regular and structured basis, of firearms for the purpose of target practice or target shooting competitions.” Note that this definition contains no explicit or implied prohibition against the use of FA s. 12(3) firearms on any shooting range.
Because there is no prohibition against the issuance of ATTs covering FA s. 12(3) firearms, it appears that the issuance or refusal to issue of an ATT covering a FA s. 12(3) firearm is left up to the issuing officer, as a matter of his or her vested discretion. It is apparently not prohibited by any law or Regulation.
If the issuing officer chooses to refuse to issue, he must do so in accordance with the procedure laid out in FA s. 72 to 81, and the applicant is entitled to take the refusal before a provincial court judge. That is an expensive procedure, and it is unquestionably open for use by the rejected applicant. Given the state of the laws and Regulations, it is difficult to see how a provincial court judge could reasonably uphold a refusal to issue.
The safety considerations that apply to, say, a Remington Model 740 semi-automatic rifle in calibre .308 Winchester are identical in every way to those that apply to a FA s. 12(3) rifle in the same calibre. There is, therefore, no reasonable reason for treating the FA s. 12(3) rifle in a way that differs from the way the Remington Model 741 is treated. The two rifles are the same calibre, and have the same magazine capacity. Both are semi-automatic rifles, both have their magazine capacities limited to 5 cartridges, and it would be very difficult to show any difference in danger to others arising from the use of one that does not also arise from the use of the other.
Given that, it makes perfect sense to issue ATTs covering FA s. 12(3) rifles as a matter of routine. Issuance of such ATTs would also tend to reduce the resentment against the firearms control system and personnel that arises from refusals based on invalid ideas.
Refusals to issue ATTs covering FA s. 12(3) rifles are apparently not justified by any statute or Regulation. At best, a refusal will result in the commencement of a reference hearing under FA s. 72 to 81 inclusive. Given the out-of-control costs of operating the firearms control system, a wave of expensive reference hearings is undesirable. It would also be undesirable to fight a series of reference hearings and lose the cases, because that would increase the resentment against firearms control personnel who, to many, appear to be “making up their own rules as they go along.”
There is a strong desire in the public sector to see the firearms control system being operated in a reasonable and cost-effective manner. This appears to be a way for the firearms control system to put it’s best face forward.
David A Tomlinson, NFA Legal
The Canada Firearms Centre has reviewed their interpretation of “Converted Semi-Automatic” firearms, and that has led to a decision to not issue any “Special Authority to Possess (SAP)” licencing documents (ATT equivalents) for these firearms to their legal and lawful owners.
Does this matter? Absolutely! The National Firearms Association has asked the Canada Firearms Centre if there have been any security problems or other issues causing problems that have resulted from any firearm owners using their 12(3) firearms at shooting ranges.
The National Firearms Association provides Liability Insurance coverage to ranges across Canada, we have not heard of a single issue.
Perhaps the Canada Firearms Centre has forgotten what the Auditor General wrote in 2002:
The program became excessively regulatory
10.67 In February 2001, the Department told the Government it had wanted to focus on the minority of firearms owners that posed a high risk while minimizing the impact on the overwhelming majority of law-abiding owners. However, the Department concluded that this did not happen. Rather, it stated that the Program’s focus had changed from high risk firearms owners to excessive regulation and enforcement of controls over all owners and their firearms. The Department concluded that, as a result, the Program had become overly complex and very costly to deliver, and that it had become difficult for owners to comply with the Program.
That is why you should read this article and then write a letter as outlined at the end of this article.
There is a strong desire in the public sector to see the firearms control system being operated in a reasonable and cost-effective manner. This appears to be a way for the firearms control system to put it’s best face forward. Now, what can you do? The National Firearms Association has contacted the CFO for the Northwest District as well as the Commissioner of Firearms.
Your letters on this issue should go to your Member of Parliament and the National Firearms Association. The National Firearms Association needs your letters — they are our “ammunition” for this fight.
Canada’s National Firearms Association is working constantly to protect firearms owners.
You can write your Member of Parliament postage free:
(Name of Member)
House of Commons
National Firearms Association