Dear RCMP ATT Group: Thank you, and Goodbye

The whole idea of applying to the police for an Authorization to Transport (ATT) a firearm is absurd, confusing and wasteful to me, and to every gun enthusiast I’ve spoken with. When the subject comes up at the shooting range or the dinner table, we shake our heads and roll our eyes at the misguidedness of Canadian lawmakers.

I’m thrilled with the government’s announcement yesterday that ATTs will be automatically attached to gun licences from Sept. 2. It’s a small but important change to Canada’s deeply flawed firearms law.

Why are ATTs so absurd, useless and wrong?

First, we “good guys” (aka law-abiding people) don’t use our firearms to do bad things. We want to take our guns from the store to our homes, or the range, or the gunsmith. That’s it. We shouldn’t need police authorization for this.

Second, the “bad guys” (aka criminals) don’t ask the police for permission to transport their guns.

Third, the police understand this, and grant almost all requests for ATTs. The whole program is a costly exercise in creating and managing useless paperwork that wastes valuable police time and energy.

Fourth, it’s frustrating and confusing for gun owners and police. Only two people know who has an ATT: The person who issued it, and the person who received it. Also, the law says that guns must be transported “by a route that, in all the circumstances, is reasonably direct.” What does “reasonably direct” mean? I asked the RCMP about this, and they don’t know. How can we expect law-enforcement officers to enforce such laws?

Fifth, ATTs limit the freedom and rights of law-abiding people. I remember having one of my first ATT requests rejected. I had asked for permission to transport a pistol to a shooting club for a match, and the RCMP said “No” because I wasn’t a member of a shooting club or gun range. We have to buy a membership in a club first, before visiting a range with our firearms? Seriously? That’s unnecessary and unjust, but that’s the law.

Despite all this silliness, confusion and cost, the group of RCMP officers I deal with to request my ATTs are professional, fast and friendly. They do their work well, and I appreciate that. As the ATT program disappears, I wish them meaningful and satisfying new roles.

To the RCMP ATT group (as opposed to the High River group): Thank you, and goodbye.

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