Government Rejects Petition to Reclassify AR-15 ‘Non-Restricted’

The Canadian government rejected a petition to simplify buying and using AR-15 rifles, saying it’s the RCMP’s job to decide such changes.

The government doesn’t plan to reclassify the firearm as “non-restricted” from its current label of “restricted,” Ralph Goodale, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, said today in a written response to a petition with more than 25,000 signatures calling for the change.

Canada labels guns as “non-restricted,” “restricted” or “prohibited,” and each class has different laws and rules for purchasing, owning, storing, transporting and using guns in that category. Firearm owners criticize the system because it is complex, arbitrary, without appeal, expensive to run, and doesn’t prevent crimes or accidents. In addition, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police sometimes change the labels on guns and gun equipment, putting people who legally bought the products at risk of going to jail.

“The Government has no intention of using section 117.15 of the Criminal Code to change the classification of the AR-15,” Goodale said in a statement on the website of the Canadian parliament. “The Government is committed to putting decision-making authority about weapons classification back into the hands of police, not politicians.”

Reclassifying the AR-15 as “non-restricted” would have simplified paperwork and allowed the gun to be used for hunting. The rifle is labeled as “restricted” because of its lineage to the military-issued M-16 assault rifle, Goodale said.

The two models look similar, but have different parts and operate differently. A shooter can fire multiple rounds from an M-16 with a single press of the trigger, something that generally cannot be done with AR-15 rifles available to private civilians, where each trigger press fires a single shot.

Canadian Firearms Blog reported Goodale’s response earlier.

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