Government to gun owners: We made a mistake. Fix it for us or go to prison
by Matt Gurney
Two small-calibre rifles have been suddenly reclassified by the RCMP-run Canadian Firearms Program. The rifles in question, the Armi Jager AP-80 and the Walther G22, are both unremarkable .22-caliber long guns. While any firearm is dangerous, .22-caliber firearms are among the weakest around — indeed, they’re typically used to train rookie shooters basic firearm safety and operation.
Canadian law divides firearms into three categories, using complex technical criterion and a bevy of politically-motivated “exemptions”, and citizens can only legally own firearms in the categories their licence covers. No further licences are issued for the third and highest category, prohibited. By declaring a new exemption and moving these rifles from the non-restricted list — the category subject to the least controls — to the prohibited list, the RCMP has essentially banned them for all but a constantly shrinking group of Canadians who owned prohibited-class firearms before the current gun control legislation was passed under Jean Chrétien.That’s bad. This is worse: Any citizen who already owns an AP-80 or G22, and does not already possess a rare prohibited-class licence, has been ordered to turn in their rifles within 30 days. Failure to do so will mean they are unlawfully in possession of a prohibited firearm, and subject to as much as 10 years behind bars. It doesn’t matter if they purchased it legally, paid all the sales taxes, and have stored it safely ever since. The RCMP has declared that it was a mistake to allow citizens to purchase these firearms, and wants them turned in, pronto. Or else.
No apology for the error. No mention of monetary compensation. No exemptions made for people who already owned them. Just an order to hand them over or become a criminal. When a private citizen tries to do what the RCMP is doing, it’s called theft. The RCMP’s seizure of these (up-til-now) legally owned guns will be accomplished with the full weight of the state.
With the G22 rifle, the RCMP has at least a flimsy excuse for the reclassification— it says because the rifle can be easily shortened by removing the back end, it’s too easily concealable to be a non-restricted rifle (the blame still lies with the government for making the mistake in the first place, but at least that’s something). The decision to ban the AP-80, however, has no logic behind it at all. The RCMP claims that it was “incorrectly registered” as non-restricted because the AP-80 is a “variant of the design of the firearm commonly known as the AK-47 rifle” — a Soviet-designed military combat rifle.
Except … it isn’t. At all. The AP-80 fires an entirely different (and much weaker) kind of ammunition, using a different internal mechanism and is built from completely different materials and components (precisely zero of the parts of the AP-80 and AK-47 are compatible or interchangeable). The only thing the AP-80 has in common with the AK-47 is its silhouette — when the AP-80 was designed, the manufacturer decided to make it look like the famous AK-47, for purely marketing reasons. As a rifle, the AP-80 is a completely unremarkable low-caliber plinker. Only by making it look like a famous military rifle could the company hope to sell many copies, so that’s what they did. The RCMP is banning the AP-80 because it looks scary.
Many Canadian firearms owners suspect that the federal Tories, once they scrap the long-gun registry, will lose interest in the firearms issue. They’ll have kept their promise but, fearful of being painted by the media and opposition as pro-gun extremists, will move on. But even once the registry is gone, Canada’s firearms laws will still be a mess — for proof of that, look no further than the above. Stepping in now to prevent this outrageous seizure of private property on the flimsiest of justifications would be a good place for the Tories to start showing Canada’s lawful firearms owners that the Conservative party hasn’t forgotten them just yet.
original web source: National Post