Saskatchewan Police and Public Safety Minister Christine Tell said she does not want provincial police resources involved in a federal gun buy-back program, a position that the federal government qualifies as reckless.
On Tuesday, Christine Tell sent a letter to Saskatchewan RCMP Commander Rhonda Blackmore.
“The Government of Saskatchewan does not support and will not permit the use of provincially funded resources for any process related to the ‘buyback’ of these firearms proposed by the federal government,” Tell wrote.
In May 2020, the federal government passed an executive order banning 1,500 assault firearms and certain newly prohibited firearm components.
He announced an amnesty until October 2023, giving gun owners time to comply with the law.
Tell’s letter does not explain exactly how the government would go about preventing the use of police resources in the takeover.
In 2011, the governments of Saskatchewan and Canada signed an agreement making the RCMP the provincial police force until 2032.
The agreement means that Saskatchewan covers 70% of the costs and the federal government pays the rest.
Tell’s letter was accompanied by a similar letter sent by Alberta Justice Minister Tyler Shandro to the commanding officer of the Alberta RCMP.
The federal government first indicated that the private sector would design and manage a prohibited firearms buy-back program.
Shandro said the federal Minister of Public Safety sent him a letter requesting police resources to begin work on the takeover.
Tell called the buy-back program a “forfeiture program,” words echoed by the province’s chief firearms officer, Robert Freberg.
“We don’t think this is going to do anything to improve public safety in the province. The people they are targeting with this buyout or confiscation…are not the people causing the problem,” Freberg told CBC. Wednesday.
Freberg said the provincial government, under its contract with the RCMP, “sets priorities as to what we see with the best value for taxpayers’ money.”
“We don’t tell them what kind of criminal investigations to do or how to do them. We don’t intervene, but it’s not a criminal investigation. It’s strictly about using police officers to carry out effectively courier services,” he said. .
Freberg said the province can withhold RCMP funding to prevent him from participating in the buyout.
“Yes, and I believe the answer is absolutely yes, we have that authority and that’s what the minister has stated in the letter,” he said.
Freberg said the government’s position was that owners of the now-banned firearms were already regulated and monitored.
“Many of these people use these firearms for hunting purposes, for sporting purposes and, through no fault of their own, have not created any type of risk to themselves or others, as we monitor them from close under their license. So if they were at risk we would definitely take all firearms, not just the ones that are considered scary,” he said.
In June, after the federal government announced its intention to freeze handgun sales, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said the government was a “signal of virtue”.
Freberg said he was unconvinced the police department was interested in participating in the buyout.
“I don’t see how we can all of a sudden make these people criminals. The police certainly don’t want gun owners going to the police station or guns walking around all the time. day by laying down firearms.”
CBC contacted the RCMP for comment, but did not receive a response.
The federal government calls Sask. “reckless” position
On Thursday, the office of federal Public Security Minister Marco Mendicino sent a statement in response to Tell’s letter.
“It is the primary responsibility of any government to keep its citizens safe. This announcement by Saskatchewan is not only reckless, it is an abdication of that vital responsibility,” the statement said.
“The courts have repeatedly confirmed that the regulation of firearms falls squarely within federal jurisdiction. Saskatchewanians expect their federal and provincial governments to work together to protect their communities, not to pull off dangerous stunts.
“Weapons of war have no place in our communities, which is why our government has banned these weapons, and our buy-back program will take them off our streets for good.”
In May, Mendicino said the buyout would begin by the end of the year.
“Our ban on assault weapons is part of our plan to protect Canadians from gun violence. This includes measures at the border to stop smuggling, investments in our communities to stop crime before it starts, and Bill C-21, the most significant gun violence legislation in Canada in a generation.” , the statement said.
The initial gun ban was announced less than two weeks after the Nova Scotia Gun Massacre, the deadliest mass shooting in the country’s history.
“As conservative politicians seek to re-legalize the AR-15 and other assault weapons, we remain resolute in our work to make our communities safer.”
An Ipsos poll in 2020 suggested that an overwhelming majority, 82 percent, of those polled supported Bill C-21, the law to ban a range of “assault-type” weapons.
However, support for the ban was lowest in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, at 57%, according to the poll results.
Freberg said the federal legislation followed high-profile mass shootings in the United States. He said Canadian and American gun laws are not comparable.
“So if you go out and ask somebody [if] you want a military assault weapon sold, the person who isn’t familiar with firearms will probably say “no, that’s not a good idea”, but you could apply the same label to a baseball bat if you wanted to call it an assault weapon,” he said.
Freberg said in his experience that owners of the newly prohibited firearms are not interested in buying back because the price offered by the federal government is too low.
“They would much rather sell them on the private market where they are going to be worth a lot more money than they will see when redeemed,” he said.
Freberg said he was under the impression that if the RCMP were involved, they would receive a call for a buyout at their detachment, drive to the owner’s residence, catalog the firearm and store it before it is gone. destroyed.
“All the time that’s going on is time the officer can’t work on the public safety file,” he said.