EXCLUSIVE: “There’s a misunderstanding about the place of firearms legislation" - MLA Shane Getson

The Alberta government has launched a public survey concerning the federal government’s newfound restrictions on firearms ownership. In addition, an online town hall event was held on the subject this Tuesday, with a second scheduled for this upcoming Monday. Alberta Justice Minister Kaycee Madu has extolled the importance of holding this survey, stating that “Albertans must be heard, and these consultations will help Alberta’s government develop a responsible firearms-use policy that deters criminals without attacking law-abiding gun owners—and in turn free up the courts for serious matters.”

The survey is largely being held in response to the firearm restrictions implemented this May, whereby more than 1,500 firearms were banned by the Trudeau government, with another Liberal proposal set to create a slough of handgun prohibitions that could potentially be enforced by local municipalities.

The Buffalo Tribune reached out to MLA Shane Getson for insider commentary on the UCP’s strategy in implementing this survey.

“The survey itself was designed to garner information from people—firearms owners or not—and to see what Albertans think on the matter,” Getson began. “We need to get an idea of what this means for people, and how they’ve been impacted by the ban. That’s the first step.”

The potential for federal-provincial legislative conflict was next on the agenda. “There’s a misunderstanding about the place of firearms legislation between federal and provincial law,” Getson remarked. “Yes, it’s true that one level of government cannot trump the other. But let me say this: while firearms legislation does fall under the federal level (the regulation of firearms falls under the “criminal law” power, which the Constitution Act of 1867 grants exclusively to the federal government), this is largely a consequence of modern-day judicial interpretation. Back in the 1960s, there were no such restrictions on guns; firearms were considered property, more along the lines of a tool. When criminality was applied, it was according to the person in question—not the tool.

Although Canadian constitutionality has not changed—our legal understanding of it obviously has. In turn, this has given the government the capacity to turn a gun from a ‘tool’ to a punishable item if they are possessed without a legal license. Of course, now it’s progressed to the point where the government can legislate against any gun that offends some visually by looking scary. Things have gotten out of hand.”

Getson offered reassurance to Albertans who worried that the federal government would just clamp down on any potential legislation. “We’re going to fight for the fact that firearms ownership is written into our constitutional rights. First Nations groups are exempt from certain restrictions and are allowed to hunt for sustenance—as should we. Basically, if it should come to the courts, we will argue that any legislation we pass with respect to responsible firearms ownership will fall within the domain of property rights, which is our [provincial] jurisdiction.

The Buffalo Tribune followed by asking Mr. Getson for some of his own personal thoughts on the matter. “Let me just add, firearms are not just a Western phenomenon: they’re ingrained into our Canadian fabric, which Minister Blair has severely underestimated. The mainstream media has played into this, downplaying the amount of people that have shown up at firearms rallies against the government. We actually have a similar firearm ownership to the US per capita, and rank up with Switzerland in terms of gun safety. I know it’s been said time and time again, but what happened in Nova Scotia was related to the illegal gun trade.

He was not a registered or responsible gun owner, as almost all Canadians are. Illegal ownership is where the federal intent should go, rather than virtue signaling to disenfranchise law abiding Canadians. Imagine you worked at a construction site, and someone who wasn’t qualified jumped on an excavator, dug a ditch, causing people to fall in and get killed. What would you do—question why the individual got onto the site—or ban all Caterpillars? We have to tackle the root problem, and the simple fact is that this OIC doesn’t make people any safer."

Getson’s claim is widely backed up by NFA data. In 1974, there were fewer than 800 people with court ordered firearm possession prohibitions. Presently, there are over 435,000 Canadians with court ordered firearms prohibitions. And yet, between 1974 and the present, there has been no decrease in either homicide (firearms and total homicide) or reduction in crime. Rather, there has been new non-violent, Firearms Act infractions added to the criminal code and an actual increase of criminal conviction for said infractions (which have no victim). Other studies by Caillin Langmann at the Journal of Interpersonal Violence indicate that the Firearms Act and associated criminal penalties have been, at best, neutral in reducing crime in Canada.

Getson followed up with his concluding personal thoughts: “I also want to add that the optics of Mr. Trudeau’s choice to use an OIC is just terrible. He expedited the process, utilizing the excuse of a pandemic to do so in a remote fashion, circumventing Parliament. Other than having been an obvious distraction from his scandals—he’s also causing ordinary Canadians to fear for their rights and freedoms. I’ve even had police officers approach me, asking: ‘do we really have to enforce this?’ It’s utter insanity. From exerting themselves to coming up with gun registries to empowering certain municipalities, none of this federal legislation tackles the aforementioned root problem (illegal ownership), and in my opinion, spits in the face of due process.”

The Buffalo Tribune asked Mr. Getson for his final thoughts. “I want to say, don’t let this issue divide us. We need to be open-minded enough to have the conversation, and we can’t be afraid to label this OIC and gun grab as wrong. To Albertans, I say that you should take the survey, or call into the [remaining] town hall. You have the chance to give us feedback to do our jobs, and to participate in a dialogue, even if you’re not a firearms owner. If you disagree with us, I advise you to take a bit of time to do some personal research and see why gun owners are concerned. One day, the same thing may happen to you, where the government may take away something you enjoy for no apparent reason."

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