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Tag: Alberta Firearms

Bill C-21 comes under fire as southern Albertans decry sweeping gun bans

The bill seeks to amend parts of the federal Firearms Act and the Canadian Criminal Code by making it illegal to buy, sell or transfer ownership of centrefire guns, according to proposed amendments introduced late last month by Liberal MP Paul Chiang. The federal government separately imposed a similar freeze on handguns effective Oct. 1.

Chiang’s proposed amendments would outlaw semi-automatic weapons capable of accepting magazines “with a capacity greater than five cartridges of the type for which the firearm was originally designed,” according to minutes published by Parliament’s standing committee on public safety and national security.

Chiang’s proposals would also ban guns that put out a muzzle force of more than 10,000 joules, as well as guns with a bore of 20 millimetres or more.

C-21 would create a so-called red-flag law that would allow anyone to request a court-ordered weapons prohibition of up to 30 days for anyone deemed to be a risk to themself or others, as well as people who are likely to make weapons available to those already under a weapons prohibition.



The bill would also make it illegal to buy, sell or transfer ownership of so-called replica guns that strongly resemble prohibited guns, including many types of airguns.

The feds in May 2020 changed sections of the Criminal Code to ban a list of around 1,500 types of guns, ammunition and weapons systems, including mortars and rocket launchers — none of which have ever been legal in Canada.

The proposed legislation has come under fire from a host of gun owners, gun retailers and sport shooters in and around Pincher Creek.

Steven Vanderbalk, part owner of Fort Macleod’s Alberta Hardware Ltd. & Alberta Firearms, told Shootin’ the Breeze that Bill C-21 would outlaw $150,000 worth of semi-automatic rifles currently on store racks.

“That’s fair to say at a minimum,” he said, explaining that the figure could be higher because the ban is likely to include a host of shotguns now in stock. 

“If you take the handgun ban, (Bill C-21) would make it illegal to sell about 50 per cent of guns that we would normally carry.”


Ad for Ascent Dental in Pincher Creek


Vanderbalk said the bill makes flippant use of inflammatory language —  including and especially its “military-style assault rifle” designation — which he said amounts to “a political ploy that preys on people’s emotions.”

If the bill was designed to make guns less available, Vanderbalk said it’s had precisely the opposite effect. Everyone from “recent immigrants … to grandmas” has been buying guns before Bill C-21 becomes law.

“Trudeau has put so many guns into people’s hands,” he said. “I don’t know if the Liberals have any clue how many guns have been sold in the last six months — just because of the bill.” 

Dan Kuftinoff and Myles Lang, president and vice-president at the Oldman River Gun Club, were less sparing in their appraisal. 

Kuftinoff said the phrase “assault rifle” was “a horrible term” to describe semi-automatics in Canada. These guns are nothing like the AR-15, “the poster child” of assault rifles, in Kuftifnoff’s words, because Canadian gun laws put a five-round cap on semi-automatic magazines.

Chiang’s proposed amendments would effectively ban all centrefire guns, because they can technically receive higher capacity magazines.



Even hunting rifles, like Lang’s bolt-action Ruger No. 1, are on the federal Liberals’ May 2020 list. The rifle is designed to bring down deer and elk, not people, Lang said. 

“This is 100 per cent political. It’s divisive politics that has nothing to do with public safety — period,” Lang insisted.

Anyone who wants to buy a gun must prove to a seller that they have a registered possession and acquisition licence, as per the Firearms Act. Retailers then confirm buyers’ PALs online or by phone by calling Alberta’s chief firearms officer. Even then, retailers can and do refuse sales to people they hold in suspicion, according to Vanderbalk. 

The federal government has proposed a gun buyback program that would allow gun owners to sell prohibited firearms to Ottawa or have the guns disabled at Ottawa’s expense.

Alberta faces uncertain battle against Bill C-21

Speaking with southern Alberta reporters Friday, Tyler Shandro condemned C-21 as “a gigantic mistake” and “an attack on the way of life for folks … particularly in rural Alberta.”

Strong words aside, the minister struggled to come up with specific countermeasures.

Shandro hinted at using Alberta’s Sovereignty Act (Bill 1) against C-21. Premier Danielle Smith promised her supporters during the United Conservative Party’s leadership race last summer that the act would empower the legislature to ignore federal laws the province deemed harmful to Albertan interests.

“Now that Bill 1 has passed … we’ve asked for folks to take a look and provide us with suggestions,”  Shandro said Friday. “Maybe there are opportunities for resolution in the house in 2023.”

But the act can only direct provincial bodies not to enforce targeted federal laws. It cannot compel individual Albertans to do the same.

“I think that’s why we’re also looking at a number of initiatives that don’t involve the Sovereignty Act,” Shandro qualified.



“There are things that we can do now to move quickly, and stuff we can learn from what’s happening in Saskatchewan,” where, Shandro said, the legislature in Regina is working on a constitutional challenge to Ottawa’s proposed gun buyback program. 

Alberta is already pursuing six applications for judicial review of the federal cabinet’s decision in May 2020 to ban 1,500 types of guns. Bill C-21 seeks to toughen gun restrictions through a host of amendments to the Firearms Act.

Recent amendments by Paul Chiang, Liberal MP for the Ontario riding of Markham-Unionville, would significantly add to the ban by prohibiting any gun capable of taking a magazine containing more than five rounds. This would effectively ban all magazine-loading rifles, as well as many types of shotguns.

Guns that shoot with a force of more than 10,000 joules or that have a bore of two centimetres or more would also be banned.

Shandro said the Liberals were “playing politics,” misleading Canadians by purporting to show that legally obtained guns were driving violent crime.  

“I think we know that, anecdotally, we have a sense or an intuition that that’s not the case,” he said.


Pig roast at wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.


A May 2022 report by Statistics Canada shows that gun violence in 2020 accounted for less than three per cent of violent crime nationally. 

But the report shows that the per capita rate of gun crime in Alberta’s rural south jumped by 31 per cent between 2019 and 2020. Firearms were present in 264 violent crimes reported to regional police detachments for that year, accounting for roughly 4½ per cent of violent crime, or a rate of 54 incidents per 100,000 people outside metropolitan centres. 

For comparison, regional violent crime was overwhelmingly driven by physical force and threats in the same period, with police finding no weapons at all at just over 4,500 incidents. That number accounted for just over 75 per cent of all violent crime reported to regional police. 

Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Nunavut had the sharpest increases in police-reported gun crime dating back to 2009, the report showed. 

Guns were used in 37 per cent of investigated homicides in Canada in 2020, but the report notes that this figure was skewed by the April 2020 gun massacre in Portapique, N.S., that killed 22 people. The shooter’s guns were illegal because he did not have a possession and acquisition licence as per the Firearms Act.



Handguns were the most common weapon used in Canadian gun murders dating back to 2009. Gun crime was more associated with rifles and shotguns in rural parts of the country, according to the report. 

There are no available statistics to show the origins of guns used in violent crime.

For more information on gun violence in Canada, consult “Trends in firearm-related violent crime in Canada, 2009 to 2020” on Statistics Canada’s website,

There were 241,794 guns registered in Alberta as of October, according to Ethan Lecavalier-Kidney, press secretary for Minister Shandro. 

Of that number, Lecavalier-Kidney said 237,638 were handguns, 2,918 were rifles, and 1,238 were guns registered as “other.”

Rifles and shotguns are probably vastly underrepresented in that total, because most long guns don’t need to be registered under current legislation.