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Gun committee has big challenges

Established this month

The Kenney government’s decision to establish the Alberta Firearms Advisory Committee in the wake of the Trudeau government’s recent ban on 1,500 types of assault-style firearms sets the stage for further political battles.

Whether the committee will prove to be a meaningful response to the federal government’s ban remains to be seen.

What is known is that the Trudeau Liberals and the Kenney UCP have each invested a great deal of political capital in the firearms debate, making the outcome very much as win-lose situation for both sides.

Made up of representatives from the farm and ranch community, gun owner groups, hunters and trappers, as well as sport shooters, the committee will provide recommendations to the Alberta government on how provincial policies can target criminals while respecting law-abiding gun owners.

Premier Kenney says the new committee will help assert areas of provincial jurisdiction in the face of recent federal Liberal government action.

“The federal government has introduced hasty and ill-thought-out measures that penalize law-abiding gun owners while doing little to stop criminals who traffic or use firearms,” said Kenney.

“In Alberta, we will take action to protect Albertans, prosecute criminals and deter illegal gun crime and trafficking rather than persecuting law-abiding citizens.”

The premier called on the federal government to scrap the ban and target smugglers and gangs instead.

For his part, Prime Minister Trudeau says banning the assault-style firearms has the support of the majority of Canadians.

“These weapons were designed for one purpose and one purpose only: to kill the largest amount of people in the shortest amount of time. Banning these firearms will save Canadian lives,” said Trudeau.

The federal government says a buy-back program for those owning assault-style firearms will be brought forward, along with a two-year amnesty.

When the Trudeau government announced the ban on assault-style firearms in May, the provincial government was all but compelled to make a response.

Whether this new committee and its work will prove to be a meaningful counter to the assault-gun ban remains an open question.

- Dan Singleton is an editor with The Albertan