With many law-abiding gun owners calling this district home, the firearms debate currently raging between Danielle Smith’s UCP government on one side and the Opposition NDP and the federal Liberals on the other is of ongoing interest to the community-at-large.
Whether the new Alberta Firearms Act, introduced last week, will score political points for the incumbent provincial government or alienate voters, particularly in Calgary and Edmonton, remains anyone’s guess.
What is known is that, not at surprisingly, the sides remain far, far apart and are likely to remain so well beyond the expected May 29 provincial election.
Minister of Justice Tyler Shandro say the new legislation will create the “most comprehensive provincial firearms framework” in Canada.
“This legislation will elevate the responsibilities and legal mandate of the Alberta Chief Firearms Officer to the fullest extent of the law,” Shandro said. “Alberta stands unequivocally with hunters, farmers, sport shooters, and Indigenous peoples, all of whom understand the importance of responsible firearm ownership in Alberta’s heritage and culture.”
The new provincial legislation will require municipalities to meet regulatory requirements before entering into any firearms-related funding agreements with the federal government.
The introduction of the Alberta Firearms Act comes as the federal government moves forward with its landmark Bill C-21 firearms legislation, which Premier Minister Justin Trudeau says will make Canadian communities safer.
The Opposition NDP says the new provincial firearms legislation will not protect Albertans.
“Albertans are concerned by the rising gun violence in our communities under the UCP, but this UCP bill does nothing to get assault weapons off the street or improve safety for families,” said Irfan Sabir, NDP critic for justice.
“There are legitimate criticisms of the federal firearms program, and absolutely (the federal government) needed to withdraw and reconsider their amendments that would have captured many firearms.”
While many, many issues are sure to be on the election campaign agenda in the coming weeks, firearms ownership and gun violence should have a place in the debate.
Dan Singleton is an editor with the Albertan.