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Canada Court challenge seeks to overturn federal gun ban

00:44  23 may  2020
00:44  23 may  2020 Source:   ottawacitizen.com

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Cassandra Parker, 31, co-owner of a sporting goods shop in Prince George, B.C. is taking the federal government to court over sweeping new gun regulations. Cassandra Parker, 31, co-owner of a sporting goods shop in Prince George, B.C. is taking the federal government to court over sweeping new gun regulations.

The owner of a small family-run sporting goods store in Prince George B.C. is taking the federal government to court over sweeping new gun regulations enacted earlier this month in the wake of Canada’s worst mass shooting.

Cassandra Parker, co-owner of K.K.S. Tactical Supplies Ltd. filed the application for judicial review this week after retaining the services of Ottawa criminal defence lawyer Solomon Friedman, a noted firearms law expert and co-author of the Annotated Firearms Act.

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The application asks for a judicial review of the government’s prohibition of some 1,500 models of firearms — the order banned an estimated 100,000 guns that were previously owned legally — arguing that while the government is permitted to ban firearms of certain classifications, an exception exists under the criminal code for guns deemed “reasonable for use in Canada for hunting or sporting purposes.”

The May 1 cabinet order is “subject to review” by the court, Friedman argues in the application, and it “cannot stand” if the government’s decision is found to be “unreasonable, arbitrary or irrational.”

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The application names the Attorney General of Canada, the RCMP and the registrar of firearms as respondents, and requests any future hearing on the matter to be held in Ottawa.

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According to the application, Friedman intends to call evidence to demonstrate the firearms banned under the regulation (SOR/2020-96) “are reasonable for use in Canada for hunting or sporting purposes” and “do not pose a disproportionate risk to public safety.”

The government’s “opinion to the contrary is not supported by the evidence,” Friedman argues, “and is therefore unreasonable.”

The legal challenge will include evidence from public health and firearms policy researchers, sport shooting and hunting experts and firearms engineers, the application states, to contest the language of the ban and to contradict “assertions made by senior members of government, including the Prime Minister.”

The evidence will demonstrate, according to Friedman, that “virtually every statement” contained either within the order or in various public pronouncements “is either false, out-of-context or otherwise misleading.”

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The application touches on several points raised by opposition critics in recent weeks: that the expanded restrictions do not stop the illegal flow of guns, instead banning firearms registered by law-abiding owners, and that the changes are unlikely to result in a “material public safety benefit.”

Opponents have also criticized the government’s decision to issue the ban by Order in Council rather than through Parliamentary debates. Friedman is also seeking a court order for the government to disclose “all information relied on in forming its decision.”

Contrary to the wording in the order, Friedman argues the affected firearms are regularly used for hunting in Canada, and argues the government recognized their “legitimate use” in its own pronouncement when it stated that: “some indigenous and sustenance hunters could be using previously non-restricted firearms for their hunting and may be unable to replace these firearms immediately.”

K.K.S. Tactical Supplies, the B.C. sporting goods store at the centre of the application, is set to suffer a “catastrophic loss,” according to the court filing, with much of its inventory “rendered worthless.”

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The appeals court , the largest in the country and staffed primarily by appointments by Democrat Presidents Teixeira and his associates were backed in the suit by a host of gun rights organizations including the Calguns Foundation, the California Association of Federal Firearm Licensees and the

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The government’s regulatory impact analysis statement “simply advises affected businesses to return the impacted firearms to the manufacturer.”

Parker’s business is no longer permitted to possess the prohibited firearms it already has in stock, and the guns “have now lost all value as they cannot be sold or used by licensed firearms owners,” the application states. “It is unknown whether or not Ms. Parker will be able to obtain any compensation for the firearms that have been paid for.”

The application also takes exception to the government’s reliance on the phase “assault-style firearms” in justifying its opinion on their legitimacy — the phrase appears 20 times in the government order, and the application notes the term is used interchangeably with the terms “tactical “ and “military-style” weapons.

But “assault-style firearm” is not an accepted definition, Friedman argues, either in legal terms or in technical specifications, and the phrase is not defined in the regulations or in the attached statement.

“No characteristics of ‘assault-style firearms’ are set out by the government,” the application states.

However, the phrase “assault rifle” does have a specific technical meaning — capable of firing in fully automatic mode, using an intermediate cartridge and a detachable magazine — but as the application notes, none of the firearms banned by SOR/2020-96 are capable of fully-automatic fire.

“None of them is an ‘assault rifle’,” Friedman argues, “within the commonly accepted definition of the phrase.”

Friedman argues there is no data to show the banned firearms are disproportionately used in criminal offences in Canada.

“In fact, the opposite is true,” Friedman argues, citing data showing the rate of homicide by firearm has been steadily declining in Canada, and homicide rates where a rifle or shotgun was used have been in sharper decline. In 1975, there were 180 homicides by rifle or shotgun, while in 2018 there were 56. Of the 651 homicides in Canada in 2018, 249 were by shooting.

The majority of “true crime” firearms offences, Friedman argues, involve guns that are smuggled into the country illegally and “in the hands of individuals who were never authorized to possess them in the first place,” Friedman states. “SOR/2020-96 will do nothing to address this.”

ahelmer@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/helmera

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