Saskatchewan

Sask. amends legislation, prevents municipalities from banning guns

The Saskatchewan government announced amendments to provincial legislation on Tuesday which place limitations on "the ability to ban firearm and handgun ownership within the province through new local municipal bylaw," a move to counter federal regulations.

Amended legislation a response to plans by federal government to give authority to ban guns to municipalities

The Saskatchewan government has amended legislation to limit the reach of municipal bylaws banning legally owned guns in the province on Tuesday. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

The Saskatchewan government announced amendments to provincial legislation on Tuesday which it says will ensure provincial jurisdiction over gun laws, a move to counter federal plans to delegate that authority to municipalities.

Amendments to the Miscellaneous Municipal Statutes Amendment Act, 2019, are being made to ensure the rights of legal gun owners in Saskatchewan, the province said, and place limitations on "the ability to ban firearm and handgun ownership within the province through new local municipal bylaw."

Premier Scott Moe said on Tuesday that it is federal jurisdiction.

"They [the feds] have chosen to make a decision to move forward on a, essentially, firearm ban that is expanding day-by-day — by stealth, on their website," said Moe.

Moe said the amended legislation will prevent what he calls patchwork rules across the province, differing from community to community.

"Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act or any other Act or law, a city has no power to pass any new bylaws respecting firearms, unless otherwise provided for by regulation," the amended municipal statues act reads.

The federal government banned about 1,500 types of semi-automatic rifles used in Canada through an order-in-council in May.

The new regulations banning possession, ownership and sales of the weapons came in the days following one of Canada's deadliest ever shootings in Nova Scotia.

"The federal government has indicated it plans to pass legislation intended to delegate to municipalities the ability to ban handguns or other firearms," the provincial news release said. 

Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili agreed with the rationale behind the decision to prevent patchwork bylaws.

"You don't want to have different rules in Prince Albert and Saskatoon," Meili said.

Meili said federal jurisdiction over guns is appropriate in his opinion, but he does not think the decision to ban guns should be left up to municipalities.

"I don't know why we would go down that road," Meili said.

Moe said he is concerned by the federal government's plans and regulations. He said that instead of penalizing legal gun owners, increased penalties and fines on gun thieves and smugglers should be considered instead.

"This is not effective policy when you go after people that own firearms, when the real problem is these stolen and smuggled firearms that are in Saskatchewan," Moe added. "And I would put forward, quite likely, a similar challenge across the nation."

"The government of Saskatchewan prefers to take the position of encouraging education and safety with a focus on current enforcement efforts, while taking a tough stance on criminals who are breaking the existing laws, rather than further restricting legitimate firearms ownership by law-abiding residents," Minister of Government Relations Lori Carr said.

The legislation amended by the Saskatchewan government was originally introduced last year. Some of the amendments revealed Tuesday clarify municipal responsibility in regard to public notices.

Municipalities will continue to be required to publish the following items within their local or regional newspaper:

  • Restructuring notices.
  • Local status and boundary changes.
  • Completion of assessment rolls as well as assessment notices.
  • The last day for assessment appeals.

Clarifications

  • An earlier version of this story said the federal government introduced legislation in May banning about 1,500 types of semi-automatic rifles used in Canada. In fact, the new regulations were approved by an order-in-council from cabinet, not through legislation.
    Jun 16, 2020 6:54 PM CT

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story stated it was not federal jurisdiction. In fact, it is federal jurisdiction.
    Jun 17, 2020 11:07 AM CT

With files from Adam Hunter

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