Following up on a statement made last month by Alberta premier Jason Kenney and Doug Schweitzer, the justice minister, the UCP government announced yesterday that it would be replacing the federally designated chief firearms officer with its own chief provincial firearms officer.
According to the announcement, this new position “will provide the province increased responsibilities to reflect Albertans’ long history of responsible firearms use and ownership” as they administer the Canadian Firearms Program.
This decision is clearly in response to the federal government’s recent announcement of further increases to federal gun control. In fact, Jason Nixon, the government house leader, was quoted as saying the following:
“Albertans are unhappy with Ottawa putting politics ahead of public safety. If the Government of Canada wants to step up the fight against gun crime, the obvious place to start is to target the illegal gun smugglers who are arming gangs and fuelling violence in our communities. It makes far more sense than wasting millions of taxpayers’ dollars buying back legal firearms from responsible, trained, and fully licensed firearms owners. I am pleased that Alberta’s government is taking a stand against this heavy-handed policy by working to appoint our own chief firearms officer.”
Nixon was the one who introduced Motion 20 to the Legislative Assembly, which included the following clause:
Be it resolved that the Legislative Assembly . . . express its opposition to the government of Canada’s recent decision to amend regulations to the Criminal Code to prohibit the possession, transportation, and sale of certain types of legally acquired firearms by licensed, law-abiding citizens
The motion passed 42–7 in the Legislative Assembly Tuesday afternoon, following two weeks of debate.
This falls on the heels of the province establishing the Alberta Firearms Advisory Committee earlier this month as a way to explore how to better assert areas of provincial jurisdiction over gun control. Related to this is a court challenge recently filed against the federal gun ban, which sent legal notice to the Canadian provinces, including Alberta.
The announcement claims that the province will establish a firearms office, which implies that this new position will include administrative support, so it will likely be a staff of more than one person. No information on cost or budget accompanied the report.
The province claims they will work with Public Safety Canada in their transition and hope to have the firearms office in place next year.