Volume 6, Number 3 August 2000
Message from the President
I would first like to say a big "Thank You" to everyone who attended "Firearms Forum 2000" on May 11. About 800 men and women filled the CAW Hall to get information and ask questions about the Firearms Act. Coverage of the Forum in The Standard was positive and for once we were quoted correctly. We also handed out about 750 of our information packages which are filled with good advice dealing with licencing, registration, hunting, etc. If you did not get a package and would like one they will be available free of charge at our gun show on Sept.
Due to Parliament's usual 3 month summer break there has been little official comment regarding the progress of The Firearms Act. Rest assured, however, that it is still in trouble. A recent attempt to make the law more palatable by reducing fees temporarily (see story later in this issue) demonstrates how desperate the Liberals are to get this lead balloon off the ground. Numerous MPs, especially those in rural areas, have privately expressed concern that the firearm issue will cost them seats in the next election. When you write or speak to your local representative you might just want to reinforce that point. The fact that Stockwell Day, the newly elected leader of the Canadian Alliance, has declared he will repeal C-68 if the CA forms the next government has done nothing to make the rural Liberals any less nervous.
As the licensing deadline in January 2001 looms and it becomes more and more obvious that the licencing efforts have been a flop expect to see a multitude of government pronouncements either 1) threatening you if you don't comply or 2) giving some lame excuses why they have had to extend the deadline. Either way, they are in big trouble.
In closing, let me emphasize a point that TSCON has been trying to get across since the beginning of this mess but still arises frequently. If you are unsure of the law or what is required of you, contact us. Don't rely on the word of your neighbour, hunting buddy or even the police. The sad fact is that there are more rumours than facts floating around out there and most people (police included) don't have the right answers. You might just save yourself a fine, jail time or the loss of your guns.
Supreme Court Case
By now, most of you know that the Supreme Court ruled (surprise, surprise) in favour of the Liberals, stating that C-68 is legal and does not infringe on the right of provinces to deal with licencing issues because it involves public safety. If safety was the sole criteria one must wonder why the Liberals allow car and driver registration to remain provincial jurisdiction since far more people die in car accidents than with firearms. Interestingly, the court said it did not matter if the law actually made people safer as long as it is supposed to. Perhaps most important, the judges acknowledged that challenges to the law on other grounds (for example, that it violates the Charter of Rights) would and could very possibly occur.
The bottom line is that there will be many more court challenges to the law, some with a better chance of succeeding than this one.
Nunavut Challenges C-68
The Supreme Court decision on C-68 wasn't even cold when the next legal hurdle to it was raised. The newest Canadian Territory of Nunavut has launched a challenge based on the fact that C-68 violates the rights of the Inuit people by requiring them to have a firearm licence in violation of the Nunavut Land Claim Agreement. If they are successful (which is very possible) this could be the first step in dismantling the law. Stay tuned.
Don't Register Guns Yet
We still hear stories about people registering firearms they currently own. Remember, you only need a licence to own firearms on Jan. 1, 2001. The guns themselves do not have to be registered till Dec. 31, 2002. At that time you can register any number of guns you currently own for a flat fee of $18. If you register the guns now they will go into the CFC data bank and even if the law is repealed at a later date you can bet they will never remove that information from their computers.Don't register your guns yet!
Gun Owner Licensing Slow
Speaking of gun licences, despite the TV, radio, newspaper, and hockey game ads, Canadians are not exactly rushing out to get their licences. By the end of June only about 28% of gun owners had licences (and that is 28% of the ridiculous government estimate of 2.2 million gun owners that will need licences). Remember that when you apply, keep photocopies of everything you send in, send the application by registered mail and send a money order or certified cheque so you can prove when you tried to comply with the law. Since it is taking months to process applications and you will need a licence to buy ammo as of Jan. 1, 2001 it might be a good idea to stock up now on for hunting season.
Gun Loss Advisory
This is another in a series of notices from Mr. Edward Burlew, a lawyer from Thornhill, Ontario who specializes in firearms law and is an active shooter.
Criminal Possession of Firearms Made Easy. The criminal code creates the offense of possessing a firearm without a license registration certificate (sections 91 and 92). The difference between 91 and 92 is that section 91 creates an offence of absolute liability and section 92 requires that the person have knowledge. No doubt there will be challenges to the lack of "mens rea" or "guilty mind" in section 91. On another point the wording seems to be specific with exceptions. The exceptions are: The deemed license and, registration provisions of section 98; being under the direct supervision of a properly licensed person and coming into possession by operation of law and then taking steps to become licensed. 'The serious problem is to look at the definition of possession in section 4(3) of the Criminal Code. There, possession is of course personal, or if you know another person actually has possession or custody of your property or if you have it anywhere for the use or benefit of yourself or anyone else. When two persons or more have possession with the knowledge and consent of the rest then all are deemed to have custody and possession. The police have started to apply this definition to family situations of gun ownership. For instance, a son and father have guns. Dad has only a shotgun and is licensed only for non-restricted, the son has restricted and is licensed for non-restricted and restricted. To comply with safe storage regulations the father and son keep their guns in one safe and they each have a key. The safe contains dad's shotgun and the son's shotgun and handgun (which is trigger locked). The police inspect the guns, for whatever reason, and decide to charge dad with unauthorized possession of a restricted firearm. Are you shocked and upset? I hope you are! No one taught us this quirk of the law in the Canadian Firearms Safety Course. The police and Crown attorneys have been studying this law and believe that this is a correct charge. Some other examples follow: husband has a shotgun or rifle and places an action lock on the gun so the gun cannot be fired or loaded. He complies with the regulations and places the gun in the unlocked bedroom closet. The police are in the house for whatever reason, the husband is not home, the teenage children are home with mother. The police charge the teenage children and mother with unauthorized possession under section 91 because they know where dad keeps his guns and can access and touch the guns. The police believe a gun is still a firearm even when trigger locked or action locked or even if the bolt is removed. Remember that a firearm includes the frame. In England, a son loses his gun license because his elderly mother knows where the key to his gun safe is and she therefore is in unauthorized possession and he loses his gun license because he was grossly negligent. Sound far fetched? These same words were used to have the firearm license of the son and husband in the prior two examples revoked. Hearings are pending but there is no resolution yet. The worst of this is that no one is taught about this quirk of the law. Master instructors are shocked by this application of the law. This is not in the pamphlets of the Canadian Firearms Centre and it is not in the Canadian Firearm Safety Course. Yet the law exists and is being applied to charge the relatives of gun owners and to revoke firearms licenses. The solution? Have everyone in your household licensed to the same level. That will not be practical where grandfathered prohibited status resides in one person or where children or spouses are ineligible or refuse to become licensed. The alternative is to lock up the firearms with a combination lock or to have the key to the gun safe on your person only. Leaving your gun safely stored but accessible to an unlicenced person, who is not under your "direct and immediate supervision" can lead to criminal charges and a revocation of your license. No one saw this coming but it is here. Take steps to protect yourself and the people you love.
Editor's Note: In a nutshell, tell everyone who has access to your gun storage (family, friends, etc.) to suddenly become very stupid if the police start asking if they have access or keys. As Ed has pointed out many times in the past, the more you say, the more likely you are to incriminate yourself. Keep all conversations with the authorities to a bare minimum.
In a desperate effort to increase the limited number of licences being issued, the CFC has temporarily reduced two fees. A "Possession Only" licence has been reduced from $45 to $10 till October 15, at which time it is supposed to go up to $60.
The usual $25 fee to register newly purchased firearms has been waived till the end of the year.
PAL or POL?
While you might be tempted to opt for the cheaper, more convenient POL (Possession Only Licence) you should remember that with a POL you:
We suggest that unless you are 100% sure none of the above will ever apply to you, it is a better option to get a PAL, even though it may be a little more inconvenient.
After some legal prodding the Chief Firearms Officer of Ontario is now allowing people to apply for an alternate licence to avoid having to take the PAL course. You are eligible if you meet the following criteria:
If you meet the requirements here's how you apply:
We have also been able to glean the following information. The test is 30 questions of which there is some multiple choice, some true and false and some for which you just give the correct answer. You must get 80% on the test and you can only try it once. If you fail it, you must do the regular test with an instructor. There is no fee to try the test. Currently, only about 5% of the people writing the test are passing it. Ann strongly recommends that anyone writing the test get the Canadian Firearms Safety Course book and study it thoroughly. Local instructors like Al Feor, John Kellaway and Gene Chambers should have them or call1-519-369-5706. They cost about $13. We are not sure if there is more than one test but have determined that everyone is asked the 4 basic rules of firearm safety (and most get it wrong), and other questions like what is the legal age to purchase ammunition (18). We would very much like to hear from anyone who has taken the test and will pass on more "study information" as we get it.
Important NoteThere is no time limit for the test so take your time. Apparently some people have taken over an hour to do it. You might also want to have your study materials and/or an expert friend handy when you take it. Call TSCON if you need more information.
TSCON Web Site
All our newsletters as well as other interesting and informative information are available on our web site: http://www.vaxxine.com/scon
Comments or suggestions?? Call John at 562-7686
TSCON 2000 gun show dates are:
Sept. 22 Dec. 15
If you would like tables at our next show (Sept. 22, 2000), please contact Ted Valliere at 905-937-7813.
Where? St. Catharines Game and Fish building next to the boat ramp on Lighthouse Road in Port Dalhousie
When? Wednesdays, 7:00 pm.
Who? Members and non-members alike are welcome to attend.
If you received a 2001 membership card in this newsletter you are not a paid up member for 2000. Join the fight to protect your rights!
General - 685-4480 - 937-2301 Memberships - 937-3579 Gun Show - 937-7813 FAX - 934-8039
The following people are on the Executive of "The Sporting Clubs of Niagara" for the year 2000: (Save for future reference)
President Gerry Gamble 685-4480 1st Vice-President Bob LeGrand 892-3445 2nd Vice-President James Houlden 934-4250 Secretary John Gayder 937-2301 Treasurer/Membership Chairman Ivan Chamberlain 934-6882 Gun Show Chairman Ted Valliere 937-7813 Executive Directors Barry Devereux Honourary Paul Blushak 892-9001 Max Cook 892-3331 Dennis Dunbar 685-9537 Vern Ann Faber 892-3445 Max Goltz 937-7247 John Kellaway 984-4189 Robert Lockhart 358-8923 Rick McConnery 227-0724 John Orth 562-7686 Ron Penfound 934-0844 Gilbert Pinney 937-3579 Ladi Plut 937-2163 Bill Staff 562-5737 Richard Stewart 935-6623 Jack Warner 937-8397 Shirley Warner 937-8397
Free Classified Ads for Members
Classified ads for shooting and hunting related items are free for members. Please call 685-4480 and submit ads by the following dates to appear in the latest newsletter:
Vol. 6 #4 Nov. 1/00
Vol. 7 #1 Jan. 15/01
Beretta S-687 12 ga. sporting model shotgun, 30" barrel, 4 chokes, mint, $1500 or offer: Ruger 10/22 target model rifle, .22 cal., heavy barrel, mint, $550 or offer: Winchester Model 94AE, 16" barrel, large loop, 44 magnum, mint, $400 or offer: Russian single shot shotgun, 12 ga., $125 or offer:call John 892-6188
Moved, Address Changes, Etc.
For address changes, duplicate mailings, removal of a name from the mailing list or if you want a newsletter call 685-4480.
The following members are winners in our latest draw. Please call Gerry at 685-4480 to arrange to pick up your prize.
Winner Prize Donated By Donald Bantten TSCON T-shirt The Sporting Clubs of Niagara Wayne Zahara Stihl pocket knife Niagara Saw Thomas Earle Gun Cleaning Kit The Sporting Clubs of Niagara Bruce Grabell Hunting Equipment Frontier Gun and Sport