Volume 8, Number 2 Mar. 2002
Message from the President
Hello again fellow hunters, target shooters, collectors, self-defense advocates, and all other lawful firearms enthusiasts. This edition of our newsletter will probably be forever known as the "Bad News Edition" of our humble publication. I won't sugar coat it - this issue brings you news of death, quarrels, confusion, and renewed efforts by our opponents to destroy civilian firearm ownership.
Firstly, the National Firearms Association (NFA) is experiencing internal problems that are apparently centering around it's leadership. The details behind the problems are extremely convoluted and involve a lot of "he said, she said" so it would be improper to comment on the accusations and counters at this time. My best advice to those of you who are NFA members (you ARE an NFA member too, right?) is to sit tight and wait till the dust settles. I urge you to continue supporting the NFA, and to be especially careful not to take part in any rumour mongering or mudslinging. The NFA will survive its current tribulations and continue to be the most powerful piece of pro gun machinery in Canada.
Secondly, the Terrorists responsible for the September 11 carnage are receiving help from an unexpected corner in their attempt to destroy the West's tradition of rights and freedoms. The Liberal Party of Canada's anti-terror law, the Public Safety Act, contains amendments to the Explosives Act that will regulate reloading components for ammunition. Ironically, the Act contains no provisions to regulate or control box cutters. These amendments should be final proof for anybody out there who is still not convinced that the Liberals hate gun owners (you) and are out to deny their subjects the right to own firearms.
We have seen some low times in our struggle to bring common sense back into gun control, but these are dark times indeed! What are YOU doing about it? Contact me and I'll show you how to get active. Do something NOW or get screwed (worse) later.
John A. Gayder
It is with regret that we acknowledge the recent and unexpected passing of TSCON member Fred Green. Fred was well known to members of "The Sporting Clubs of Niagara" and the shooting community in general. He was an avid hunter, an excellent target shooter and over the years helped a lot of us out using his considerable gunsmithing skills. Above all, however, for many of us, he was a good friend.
Always willing to lend a hand when someone needed help, Fred was one of those honest, hard-working individuals that there are too few of in the world and we are going to miss him. Our deepest sympathy goes out to his wife Sheila, his daughters and members of his family on their loss.
NRS Info Rally at Club Roma
Hats off to the Niagara Regional Sportsmen for hosting an info session of their own at Club Roma. The event was well attended, well run and garnered some decent press coverage. If more range organizations and clubs got involved in similar projects, the grass roots pressure created by them would soon have our abysmal gun control laws corrected in a hurry!
(Unfortunately, the conflicting advice given with respect to the tactic of "Registering as Unknown" has created some confusion amongst a few people. See the following story for details!)
Confusion With "Registering as Unknown"
Confusion has developed regarding the tactic of "Registering as Unknown". The idea behind registering in this fashion is that it protects the applicant (you) from criminalizing yourself by making even honest mistakes when identifying the firearm being registered. A second, unintentional (yet perhaps not entirely unwelcome) side effect to this tactic is that it will tie the government up well into the next century verifying (positively identifying) the millions of firearms that many people will register as simply "unknown long gun", or "unknown handgun".
The confusion stems from two different interpretations of Section 106 of the Firearms Act. Before we go on, here is the official wording of section 106 as found within the Act:
False statements to procure licences, etc.
106. (1) Every person commits an offence who, for the purpose of procuring a licence, registration certificate or authorization for that person or any other person, knowingly makes a statement orally or in writing that is false or misleading or knowingly fails to disclose any information that is relevant to the application for the licence, registration certificate or authorization."
A conviction under the above section could result in a fine of up to two thousand dollars, five years in the slam, or both.
One group of firearms activists has concentrated on the first part of the section, and another group on the last.
"Group A" says it is very dangerous to try and be an expert at identifying your firearms because many firearms are NOT what they appear to be. They contend that the safest way to protect yourself from future prosecution is to fill out the application to register with all data fields (except perhaps the barrel length) on the form as Unknown. This will force the government to have a Verifier check the firearm and have him/her be responsible for any errors in identifying it.
"Group B" says you shouldn't mess around. If the firearm has a make stamped anywhere on it, even on the barrel, you should put that information on the registration form, otherwise they feel you are "failing to disclose" information.
It should be pointed out that the person who authored Group A's opinion is a court acknowledged firearms expert. The person behind Group B is a lawyer. The first knows that almost any statement about a firearm's identification characteristics may be proven to be false, the second holds the view that judges will view attempting to register an apparently clearly labeled firearm as "unknown" must be willfully failing to disclose information without a lawful excuse.
So what to do? Who is right? It would be highly presumptuous for TSCON to choose between the recommendations of such esteemed experts. However, here are a few things that are certain:
This is not the first time there have been different interpretations of what the wording of the Firearms Act means, nor will it be the last. Even different agencies within the government argue about it: the RCMP says the Act says one thing, and the CFC says it means another. The CFO may think one section of the Act indicates one thing, and the local police will swear it says something else.
With such an over-reaching and poorly written piece of legislation like the Firearms Act it is entirely natural that the sort of confusion being encountered exists. As gun owners, we must not allow this confusion to divide us.
Probably none of our readers has heard of Al Carlos. Yet shortly he will be appearing in front of the Supreme Court in a case that could have wide ranging implications for all of us regarding the issue of safe storage. As one person recently noted on the Internet, if Carlos is found guilty, gun owners won't be able to take their guns out of their gun safe without being guilty of unsafe storage. Because the case is quite complicated we have reproduced an article printed in "The Whitehorse Star" on Feb. 6/02 for explanation. The complete story can also be found in the Feb. issue of "Canadian Access to Firearms".
A disagreement over the definition of the word "storage" is taking a Yukon prospector to the Supreme Court of Canada. Allan Carlos was acquitted after a November 2000 trial of one count of careless storage of a firearm and two counts of storing a firearm contrary to regulations. The Crown appealed the decision last May but Carlos' acquittal was upheld in a 2-1 decision last July. The arguments of dissenting Yukon Court of Appeal Justice Catherine Ryan make up the basis of the Crown's appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada to have Carlos found guilty and sentenced for all three charges. Carlos' court battle started after the RCMP searched his home in February 2000. They found three loaded handguns without trigger locks, two locked in a downstairs safe and a third behind a stereo upstairs, wrapped in a rag inside a plastic bag. At trial, Carlos said he'd been cleaning the guns and had panicked when police arrived on his doorstep with a search warrant, so he quickly put the weapons away out of sight. Much of the debate at Carlos' trial and subsequent Crown appeal to the territory's appeal court revolved around exactly when a gun is considered to be in storage. The trial judge decided Carlos' actions didn't amount to storage because he hadn't intended to store them. "I accept that Mr. Carlos had no intention to store the two firearms in the safe, loaded, as they were found but had planned to unload all of the guns and replace them into the safe had not the RCMP arrived unexpectedly," the trial judge said. In the majority appeal decision, the judge said Carlos' intentions made the difference in short time cases such as his and he had to be acquitted because he only put aside his guns the way he did because the police were at the door. However, dissenting appeal court judge Ryan said there is no middle ground - Carlos was either using the firearms or had stored them. In a factum filed with the Supreme Court of Canada, the Crown argues the current law "leaves no gaps, temporal or otherwise, which make any form of careless or unsafe dealing, such as the temporary hiding of loaded, ready to use firearms lawful." The Crown argues the two court of appeal judges who argued to uphold Carlos' acquittal narrowed the meaning of the safe storage law, away from the liberal, plain meaning Parliament had intended. "It creates gaps in the protective coverage of the law - a middle ground that is neither "use" nor "storage," where carelessness and other unsafe dealing in firearms is permitted, that results in public safety." Gun control laws historically had a public safety focus with strict controls on use and storage, reads the Crown's arguments. The factum refers to an earlier Supreme Court case where the court found that careless storage involves an objective standard of fault, a "marked departure from the standard of care of a reasonably prudent person in the circumstances." Proof of what the accused subjectively meant to do is not required, argues the Crown. "The redrafting of the provisions simply produces the absurd result that was achieved in this case where the respondent was acquitted of negligence and strict liability offences on the basis that he really did not mean to be negligent or to contravene the regulations," said the Crown's factum. "Most significantly, the amendment of the provisions not only does not further Parliament's purpose of protecting the public against the inherent dangers of firearms it actually prevents the achievement of that goal." However, Carlos said he thinks the federal government didn't get the definition of storage under the firearms legislation quite right the first time and now he's being taken to court in an effort to rewrite it. "I think what they're trying to do in essence on my back, which is the frustrating thing to me, is trying to correct their legislation to the Supreme Court of Canada," said Carlos. Carlos doesn't think he'll lose, but he said he wouldn't be surprised if the national Supreme Court judges redefines what storage means. "I'm frustrated and quite angry about the whole procedure, but there's no option here," said Carlos. "I've been acquitted twice and now I'm going to the Supreme Court of Canada, spending a lot of my own money. I've got three children that are of university age, for the court to decide what the term storage means. I find that totally unfair." "Even if I were to win it, there's no compensation. I regard it as a form of persecution." He said he's had to think about selling his home and leaving the territory. "It would leave us kind of skinny," said Carlos about the legal costs. Jane Gaffin, a long-time friend of Carlos, said today she thinks it's a case that's going to affect every gun owner in the country. For that reason, she's applied to various firearms associations around the country for help in what she says will be a precedent-setting case to determine exactly what "storage" means in a legal sense. She's hoping the various groups she's applied to, including the National Firearms Association, the Canadian Sport Shooters Association, the Responsible Firearms Owners Coalition and an Alberta fish, game and gun club, decide as a group if and how much each will contribute to Carlos' legal costs. "This going to the Supreme Court is a very expensive proposition," said Gaffin.
TSCON has already donated to the Carlos defence fund. If you would like to help out, donations can be made as follows:
Al Carlos Defence Fund Trust, Bank of Montreal, 111 Main St, Whitehorse, Yukon, Y1A 2A7, Transit #0998, Account 09988075-985.
Attention Prohibited Firearm Owners
CILA/CSSA is warning us that another "unintended consequence" of our stupid gun laws has reared its ugly head. This one concerns individuals who own any of the classes of "prohibited" firearms such as short barrel/.25/.32 handguns, prohibited rifles (AK's, FN's, etc.), full autos, converted autos, etc.
To be eligible to legally possess these classes of firearms you must have owned them continuously since the date they were deemed "prohibited". Since all previously registered firearms (and all prohibs fall into this class) must be re-registered by Dec. 31/02, if that date passes and your firearm(s) in this class have not been re-registered you have not continuously legally possessed them and you would, therefore, lose your grandfathered status for those classes of firearms.
Apparently it doesn't matter that you have applied to re-register. You must have actually done it and have the new certificate(s) in your possession. This is the same Catch-22 as the firearm licence fiasco where you had till Dec. 31/00 to apply for your licence but if you didn't have the licence by Jan. 1/01 you were illegally in possession of your firearms.
Therefore, it would be prudent to apply to re-register guns in this class early to avoid the trap.
This is one of those situations where on the surface it looks like the government was being devious when, if fact, they were likely just being their usual incompetent selves.
Again. if you have questions call us.
Most everyone got the forms in the mail for the "free" registration scheme that the government spent so much time and money advertising. What they didn't tell you was that it was really a red herring. The reason? If you have access to a computer you can register any or all of your guns on-line for free at any time. Simply go to the CFC website ( http://www.cfc.gc.ca/en/e-services/) and follow the instructions to register. It's free till the end of 2002.
On a similar note, several members have expressed some concern that if they have not registered the guns they hunt with, when hunting season rolls around next winter and spring they will not be able to hunt because if they send the registration applications in late in the year as we have advised they may not have them back for hunting season and it is an offense to be in possession of an unregistered firearm after Dec. 31/02.
To solve this we suggest that you register only the guns you know you will need for hunting season, and do it on-line where it is free. All others can be registered later in the year, including those using the "Unknown" or "Frame Only" tactics. That way the only fee involved will be the one time $18 fee which was going to have to be paid anyway.
If you are unclear about this, give us a call.
Call for Nominations
As per The Sporting Clubs of Niagara constitution, elections for the Executive shall be held each year. The timetable to be followed is outlined below:
April - Call for Nominations to the Executive
Early May - Elections held
Late May - Elected Executive takes office.
We are, therefore, issuing an invitation to all year 2002 members to submit nominations for the 2002-2003 Executive.
There are 29 positions to be filled on the Executive so you may nominate up to 29 current members.
Please mail your nominations by May 6, 2002 . Nominations must be received in writing. They cannot be received verbally.
Address the nominations as follows:
THE SPORTING CLUBS OF NIAGARA
P.O. BOX 21047
ST. CATHARINES, ON L2M 7X2
ATTN: EXECUTIVE NOMINATIONS
If attendance at "Firearm Forum 2001" was any indication, there are a lot of people out there who are still very unsure about how they should approach the upcoming long gun registration. If you are a member of an organization (gun club, hunting and/or fishing club, service organization, church group, Legion branch, veterans group, trapping association, etc.) or just have a bunch of buddies who would like to become more informed, The Sporting Clubs of Niagara would be happy to put on a presentation for your group. Just contact us to make arrangements regarding a date and time. While we gratefully accept donations, the presentations are completely free of charge. So is the literature that we provide. Don't trust the gossip you hear around the gun club or BS from the local know-it-all. We do our best to provide you with honest, accurate, up-to-date information. Just give us a call.
If you received a membership card form in this mailing you are not a paid member for 2002. Why not fill it in and send it in with your cheque . Help us continue our work by supporting TSCON with a membership. Just $10 a year! Aren't your guns worth it?
If you receive a card but have renewed, please accept our thanks and ignore the renewal. Better than that, why not pass the card on to a non-member and convince them to sign up.
Available From TSCON
Both are very good quality and are available as follows:
T-shirts XL $16 XXL $18 Sweats XL $20 XXL $22
Coming Soon!! TSCON baseball hats. Watch the newsletter for details
Trigger Locks Comply with the safe storage laws. Not fancy and they take a few seconds to put on and take off but they are legal and, best of all, cheap, only $2.00 each!
Registration Information Packages
If you were unable to attend Firearm Forum 2001 you can still get a copy of our extensive package of material dealing with registration strategies.
All of the above are available at any of the gun shows or from any member of the Executive.
TSCON Web Site
All our newsletters as well as other interesting and informative information are available on our web site:
Comments or suggestions?? Call John at 905-562-7686
Gun Show Location
Please note the location for our gun shows:
Merritton Community Centre
7 Park Ave.
If you would like tables at our next show (April 19/02) you should contact Ted Valliere right away at 905-935-3893. Our shows usually sell out and often we do not have tables for all our vendors. If you want tables, call early!
2002 Gun Shows
The dates for our 2002 gun shows are: April 19, Sept. 13, Dec. 13
Free Classified Ads for Members
Classified ads for shooting and hunting related items are free for members. Please call 905-685-4480 and submit ads by the following dates for inclusion in the latest newsletter:
>Vol. 8 #3 Aug. 15, 2002
>Vol. 8 #4 Nov. 15, 2002
For Sale: Hornady reloading equipment (all brand new); dies: .243 Winchester, $25; case trimmer w/10 pilots, $65; powder measure w/rifle & pistol chambers, $75; also Chrony chronograph, used, good condition, $70; call Gerry 905-685-4480
For Sale: Remington 870 Express, 20" Rem Choke barrel w/rifle sights, 12 gauge, EX, $325: Remington 870 Wingmaster, 12 gauge, 30" plain barrel, full, VG, $250: Browning BLR, .308, EX-as new, $550: Browning Auto-5, 12 gauge, 28" VR, modified, EX, $675: Tikka bolt action, .270, w/4x32 scope, EX, $550: Remington 1100 Trap, left hand, 12 gauge VR, full, shortened stock, VG, $475: consider offers on all; call Gerry 905-685-4480
For Sale: Omega (Italian),.410 SxS shotgun, with case & ammo, EX, $200 firm: Winchester Model 94, .32 Winchester Spec., with case & ammo, EX, $200 firm: call Ray 905-358-5875
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.
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.
General 905-685-4480 905-937-2301
Gun Show 905-935-3893
St. Catharines, ON
DRAW PRIZE WINNERS
The following members are winners in our latest draw. Please call Gerry at 905-685-4480 to arrange to pick up your prize.
||Bottle of Grand Marnier liquer
||The Sporting Clubs of Niagara
||Stihl Pocket Knife
||Frontier Gun and Sport
||Free PAL Test (transferrable)
||Firearms Education School
For tables call Ted @ 905-935-3893