Saskatchewan Conservation Officers to Get AR-15s for Protection — Saskatchewan is buying AR-15 rifles with Vortex scopes or Aimpoint red-dot sights this month to protect conservation officers who feel outgunned with their pistols and shotguns.

Although much weaker than shotgun slugs or buckshot at close range, the officers will get the extra firepower to keep them safe against human attackers, Kevin Murphy, Saskatchewan’s assistant deputy minister of the environment, told the Regina Leader-Post newspaper on Oct. 26.

“In a number of cases, our officers are encountering people who are armed with rifles, both regular encounters with the hunting public and in some cases the criminal element,” Murphy was quoted as telling the newspaper.

Guns Save Lives

Almost 100,000 Canadian men and women are authorized or required to carry loaded guns every day for personal and public safety, according to research by Police and law-enforcement agencies reserve the privilege for themselves and a few professions.

Read: More Than 90,000 Canadians Are Allowed to Carry Guns Every Day

Police across Canada and the U.S. are swapping their 12-gauge shotguns for AR-15s chambered in 5.56 NATO for protection against violent people. Critics view this as unjustified “militarization.”

The rifles are also a favourite for the military and civilians as a light, accurate, versatile firearm that can fire different bullets for defence, hunting, recreation and competition. In Canada, you can go to prison for hunting with an AR-15. The government is looking to confiscate all AR-15s and many other firearms from the country’s 2.2 million federally licensed gun owners.

Saskatchewan Rifle Specifications

  • Calibre: 5.56 mm x 45 mm
  • Design: Semi-automatic, direct-impingement, ambidextrous, 16.5-inch or shorter barrels, 1:7 – 1:8 twist, feed ramps for hollow-point bullets, Magpul furniture
  • Optics: Vortex Viper PST GEN II 1-6×24 scopes with VMR-2 reticle, or equivalent; and Aimpoint red dots
  • Quantity: 147
  • Request for Bid: Oct. 24
  • Submission Deadline: Nov. 15
  • Execution of Contract: Week of Nov. 19
  • Source: Request for Bid,  Submission Form with specifications, Timetable

Murphy also referred to a court ruling last year that found the federal police guilty of having failed to equip and train their officers with AR-15s that could have saved police lives in a 2014 shooting attack in Moncton, New Brunswick. wasn’t able to confirm if Saskatchewan will be the first province to equip conservation officers with semi-auto rifles.

Colt Canada Corp., the main supplier of AR-15s to Canadian law enforcement, didn’t respond when asked if it would bid for the contract.

‘Patrol Carbines,’ ‘Assault Rifles’

Saskatchewan called the semi-automatic AR-15-type rifles it’s buying “patrol carbines” in its Oct. 24 request for bids to supply 147 of the guns. Some people call them “assault rifles.”

“The idea that conservation officers are carrying assault rifles is truly disturbing and unnecessary,” Heather Bear, the vice chief of the Saskatchewan Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, said in a press release quoted by CBC News last week. “There are legitimate concerns from First Nations that arming conservation officers with such weapons could potentially be disastrous.”

AR-15s and their medium-calibre ammo are easier to shoot accurately at longer distances than shotguns or handguns. Standard AR-15 magazines hold 30 rounds instead of 7 or 8 for many shotguns, offering more chances to hit attackers. More powerful ammo is often preferred to stop large animals.

AR-15 ‘Necessity’

“Our conservation officers have one of the broadest environmental mandates of any conservation officer service in Canada and in fact, North America,” Murphy was quoted as telling Discover Estevan in an article today. “They undertake work all the way from work on landfill through to the traditional game and fishery management work and now, have been assigned the duties of 911 response through the Provincial Response Team.”

“They have a very broad mandate and a tool like this we feel is a necessity,” Murphy told Discover Estevan.


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