Mark my words, they got away with it with the AP-80, and now they’re looking to see just how far they can go. The mounties used to be a respectable institution; now you can’t trust the conniving bastards as far as you can toss them.
Canada’s gun-classification system called ‘deeply flawed’
By Douglas Quan
At James Cox’s gun store in Calgary, there are eight rifles imported from Switzerland that he’d love to put up for sale, but they’re sitting in a vault.
That’s because the Mounties have spent months reviewing whether the entire line of Swiss Arms-brand sporting rifles, which have circulated in Canada for more than a decade as either restricted or non-restricted firearms, should be reclassified as prohibited.
Cox and other gun enthusiasts don’t understand why the review — whose outcome could affect hundreds, possibly thousands, of gun owners — has dragged on. They say the case illustrates how the gun classification system is “deeply flawed” and lacking in transparency.
“They have to make a decision and stick to it,” Cox said.
RCMP officials refused an interview request and did not respond to several written questions after more than two days.
In a short statement, they said “new information” had prompted the review and the matter was being examined “thoroughly.” The guns’ manufacturer and importers have been contacted to “obtain all pertinent information.”
If they ban the guns, compensating owners could be costly. Each one runs about $4,000, according to an RCMP briefing note obtained by Postmedia News.
The problem is authorities don’t know exactly how many owners there are. They know there are 301 restricted Swiss Arms rifles registered in Canada, but they don’t know how many non-restricted ones there are because of the end of the long-gun registry.
Cox estimates there are more than 2,000, which, if true, could cost the government $8 million in buy backs.
The RCMP has reversed the legal status of guns before. In 2012, the Sport Systeme Dittrich BD38 and 3008 firearms were reclassified from restricted to prohibited after regulators physically inspected them.
Typically the RCMP makes its initial assessment of a new firearm based on descriptions provided by the manufacturer or importer, according to a bulletin last year. “If the initial assessment indicates the firearm may be high-risk, or the information provided is incomplete, an inspection of the firearm may be required.”
The government compensated 71 owners $219,447.22 for their loss.
Jean-Christophe de Le Rue, a spokesman for the public safety minister, said this week the government has “no plans to broadly reclassify firearms.”
“Our government is committed to standing up for law-abiding hunters, farmers and sport shooters,” he said. “We will always ensure that gun owners are treated fairly.”
Ironically, it was a call that Cox made to the Mounties last year about a possible counterfeit firearm that triggered the broader review of Swiss Arms rifles.
Someone came into Cox’s store, The Shooting Edge, wanting to trade in a Swiss Arms rifle. Cox said as soon as he saw it, he knew something was “bogus.”
From 2001 to 2008, Cox imported Swiss Arms rifles — models like the Classic Green and Black Special — and came to know their “impeccable” workmanship.
The one brought into his store had “mismatched colours” and looked “beat up.” He concluded that the rifle was a variant of an old Swiss Arms SG550, which is prohibited in Canada, that had been refurbished to look like a Classic Green.
Cox said he felt obligated to call authorities. “If somebody comes in here with an illegal gun you can’t just turn your back,” he said.
The gun had come from a rival business, The Shooting Centre, owned by James Bachynsky, Cox’s ex-business partner with whom he had a falling out. But Cox insisted that was not his motivation for alerting police.
Bachynsky confirmed that the 16 Swiss Arms rifles he imported had started off as PE90s, semi-automatic versions of the prohibited SG550s, but that he had directed Swiss Arms to “make ‘em the same” as all the other rifles the company had delivered to Canada over the years. They were “identical,” he said.
Bachynsky produced a letter from the CEO of Swiss Arms confirming that the company met “exactly the specifications of the Swiss Arms Classic Green rifle” that had been established since 2001.
“If there’s no difference how can I be treated differently?” Bachynsky said.
Cox said it didn’t matter what the specifications were. At their core, they were still variants of the SG550s. It’s the lineage that counts — “a pig is still a pig.”
But Cox’s complaint had the unintended consequence of snowballing into a probe of the entire line of Swiss Arms rifles — including the ones he had imported to Canada.
In an email to Cox last May, William Etter, chief firearms technologist at the RCMP, wrote that their investigation had “cast doubt” on the legal status of all the Swiss Arms rifles in Canada and that their lineage “may have been misrepresented” when they were originally imported.
“The most generous interpretation of our research” would be that they are all are variants or modified versions of the prohibited SG550 rifle, the email said.
He tasked Cox with providing evidence to show otherwise.
Cox said he was floored. These guns have been around for 12 years and now you’re going to ban them?
Cox flew to Switzerland to meet with Swiss Arms officials to compile a report, which he says showed that all the rifles that he had imported were variants of the SG540, not the prohibited SG550.
He said he provided much of the same documentation to RCMP when he originally imported the firearms in 2001. They didn’t bother with a physical inspection back then but have samples of the guns now, he said.
Despite telling Cox last May they wanted to resolve the matter in a “timely manner,” RCMP have not reached a conclusion.
Businesses say the wait is eating into profits.
Cox said he’s withheld Swiss Arms guns from display in his store pending the decision. Rob Cook, manager at MD Charlton, a B.C. company that took over imports of Swiss Arms rifles last year, said it has suspended those imports.
Bachynsky publicly chastised his ex-business partner last year, posting online an email he had sent to Cox warning that his “current course of action seems most likely to end in the prohibition of all (Swiss Arms) rifles, you looking the fool and no criminal charges against this company or its directors.”
Despite the bad blood between them, Cox and Bachynsky agree current firearms regulations are illogical and vague.
“Two firearms with the exact same capabilities — size, weight, operating systems, magazine capacity — one could be restricted the other one could be prohibited,” Bachynsky said.
How do you truly judge whether a gun is a “variant” of a prohibited weapon? Or whether one can “easily be converted into fully automatic?”
Cox said he’d like better oversight, including industry input, over the RCMP’s gun classification decisions.
“There’s no consistency in the determination whatsoever. Nobody’s held them accountable,” he said.
Original web source: Canada.com