Two years ago, I wrote to you prior to the abolition of the Canadian Long Gun Registry about rumors that senior officials with the RCMP were conspiring to reclassify a large number of long guns.
A major development has recently unfolded that I think merits attention to both your Canadian and American readers – as this could potentially set a major precedent pertaining to gun registration and confiscation.
There is a lot of drama and intrigue involved between some of the owners of businesses involved, and a more comprehensive explanation of the situation can be found here (with the most current information): http://tv-presspass.com/swiss-arms-in-canada-the-full-story/
The simplest way to explain the story is the Swiss Arms Rifle is a variant of the SIG 540, which is very similar to the SIG 550. Under Canadian law, SIG 550 and variants are prohibited, while the SIG 540 and variants are not. The Swiss Arms rifle has been imported into Canada for over 12 years with many variants classified as Non-Restricted (the least strict classification of a rifle, requiring only a license and as of this point in time no registration). In all probability, it is speculated that there are over 1,000 owners of the rifle which, by Canadian standards, a fairly high number.
Recently, a business came into possession of a supposed Swiss Arms rifle sold by one of their competitors, and observed that it appeared to contain SIG 550 parts – potentially rendering it a variant of the SIG 550 – and thus a prohibited firearm. This business sent a sample to be reviewed by the RCMP who came to the conclusion that potentially all Swiss Arms Rifles are SIG 550 variants, and thus were incorrectly classified over a decade ago as either non-restricted or restricted, as opposed to prohibited.
Why this is important is prior to the Long Gun registry being abolished, the RCMP criteria for classifying firearms was very inconsistent and error prone. As a result, it is entirely conceivable that dozens of firearms that were classified as Non-restricted in fact meet the legislation requirements to be prohibited. Furthermore, some of these rifles could potentially be in the hands of thousands if not tens of thousands of Canadian gun owners with no official registration data to track them.
With the abolition of the Long Gun Registry, there are reports that the RCMP is increasingly and more intensely scrutinizing firearms classifications and reopening classifications of existing firearms. A recently leaked report has a definitive list of guns the RCMP was reviewing for reclassification prior to the abolition of the Long Gun Registry. The list itself is comical and completely devoid of substance. One of the most laughable points is that the the Ruger SR22 (a 10/22 dolled up to cosmetically LOOK like an AR-15) is somehow in the AR-15 family.
What this all means is, potentially, the RCMP may reclassify huge swaths of firearms that were once non-restricted or restricted into the prohibited category – effectively banning them from civilian ownership.
The big catch to this is this: with many (if not most) of these guns being Non-restricted, and the long gun registry data (supposedly) having been destroyed this past year, there is no official way the RCMP can track who is in possession of a non-restricted gun that they reclassify to prohibited, that is unless agents in the RCMP have maintained illegal backups of the data.
I learnt the hard way that many firearms businesses are very friendly with the RCMP, while some are not. However, what is certain is firearms purchased from private businesses do maintain some paper trail, and If many non-restricted guns are prohibited, many of these businesses will either voluntarily surrender their ledger of sales or be forced to by warrant.
However, I believe within Canada there is no requirement for private owners selling their guns to other private owners to maintain a inventory of sales (I have sold dozens of guns and never kept any paper record). Ergo, if I bought a firearm from a business that potentially could be reclassified – I would be a bit more concerned. If I bought one through a private sale, I would be less concerned, although classification would effectively render such firearms a prohibited device and carry a very stiff jail term.
The parties involved with the initial Swiss Arms Prohibition situation have until July 30, 2013 to petition the RCMP but either way, a ground breaking decision could potentially be made by then that could set a major precedent for gun control in Canada.
What’s interesting to note in is what will happen if this happens in the middle of a Conservative Party Majority term. Personally, I am not overly optimistic the Conservatives will do the right thing (and rein in the RCMP).
Mr. Rawles, one thing in particular I would like your guidance on is what is the Christian thing to do if you have lawfully and in good conscience acquired a firearms as a piece of property, and “Caesar” arbitrarily prohibits you from owning it? Canada is a big place and there aren’t enough Praetorians to practically enforce such an edict. Furthermore, while I don’t have any confidence in the Canadian government, I do think as a Christian you have the obligation to protect yourself and your family from theft – regardless of who is doing it.
Thank you. – H.T.C.
JWR Replies: Here in the United States, we fortunately have the protection of Second Amendment, which solemnized a God-given right that pre-dated the Constitution and that therefore invalidates most of the gun-related laws that have recently been enacted. (“Lex mala, lex nulla.”) So Christians should not feel even a twinge when they ignore such laws. You can sleep soundly knowing that American Jurisprudence is clear, and on our side:
“The general rule is that an unconstitutional statute, whether federal or state, though having the form and name of law, is in reality no law but is wholly void and ineffective for any purpose. Since unconstitutionality dates from the time of its enactment and not merely from the date of the decision so branding it, an unconstitutional law, in legal contemplation, is as inoperative as if it had never been passed and never existed; that is, it is void ab initio. Such a statute leaves the question that it purports to settle just as it would be had the statute not been enacted.
Since an unconstitutional law is void, it follows that generally the statute imposes no duties, confers no rights, creates no office or liabilities, bestows no power or authority on anyone, affords no protection, is incapable of creating any rights or obligations, does not allow for the granting of any relief, and justifies no acts performed under it.”
(See the detailed citation, which I’ve previously posted on SurvivalBlog.)
But in Canada, where you lack a similarly enshrined right, your mileage may vary.
An aside: Because of Canada’s draconian handgun laws, most folks in the U.S. have a distorted view of firearms ownership in Canada. They mistakenly picture the country as uniformly anti-gun and fairly-well disarmed. The eastern provinces are indeed dominated by anti-gun liberals and gun ownership is uncommon. But in western Canada, folks raise their kids differently. Here is a picture of a new college graduate in Alberta, holding her graduation present. (That photo link came to me courtesy of SurvivalBlog’s Mike Williamson.)
Everyone must decide for themselves where they draw the line in consenting to laws that they know are inherently evil. In 1938 it was against the law for a Jew to go out in public without wearing a Star of David sewn on their clothes. Would you call someone who refused do so a “criminal” or would you instead call them a “dissenter”? A free nation has legitimacy only so long as it has the consent of the governed. When that legitimacy is lost, a few brave souls need to stand up and say forthrightly: “Consent withdrawn!”