RCMP Plays Politics on Gun Confiscations By Payoff Vs. Lockup
Police and regulators enforcing criminal law should stick to the law, not speculate about how it may change.
10 August 2020
5 min read
TheGunBlog.ca — The RCMP is playing politics and favourites in the mass firearm confiscations it’s running for the governing Liberal Party, signalling a breakdown in its role as federal police and regulator of gun owners.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s Canadian Firearms Program has repeatedly stepped out of its regulatory role and into politics through its selective use and misuse of the Liberal terms “buyback” and “grandfathering.”
Why It’s Wrong
- The RCMP is playing Liberal politics by promoting Liberal promises that don’t exist in law or regulation, and may never exist.
- The RCMP is playing favourites by promoting one confiscation option and suppressing another.
- The RCMP is using inaccurate and misleading Liberal campaign language about a firearm “buy-back.”
- Payoff: Paying off victims of forced confiscation isn’t “buyback.”
- Lockup: Pre-confiscation forced lockup until forced surrender isn’t “grandfathering.” The RCMP has stopped mentioning this as an option.
Why It Matters
- No Integrity. The RCMP’s confiscation bias, misleading language, and de facto role as lawmaker and law enforcer undermine the integrity of the regulatory regime and the policing regime.
- No Mandate. The RCMP is operating outside its mandate as police and as regulator. Instead of administering and enforcing the law — actual law that exists — it is telling Canadians suddenly at risk of criminal charges — and seeking to avoid them — to wait for laws that don’t exist and may never exist.
- No Trust. A federal police agency/regulator that can’t be trusted to apply existing regulations — and only existing regulations — accurately and neutrally, and that actively works to criminalize honest citizens, is a risk to Canadians.
The Bigger Picture
- What the Liberal cabinet and RCMP did on May 1 is unprecedented in Canadian history and possibly in any other modern democracy outside of war.
- The RCMP staff who are planning and executing the confiscations and criminalizations are doing so under the Liberal Minister of Public Safety and in coordination with the minister and his staff.
- The Liberal-RCMP actions appear as abuses of power, position and procedure that threaten honest citizens.
What It Doesn’t Mean
- This doesn’t mean the 30,000 police and non-police managers and employees of the Ottawa-based RCMP support the transgressions of their colleagues. Some do, many don’t.
- The RCMP’s ambiguous role as lawmaker and enforcer may not be its own doing.
- Risk: Some of history’s greatest wrongs were done by people who were “just doing their jobs.”
The Liberal cabinet and ministry staff worked with the RCMP in secret to draft the confiscation order, which violates fundamental principles of ethics, justice, governance and the rule of law.
Cabinet ordered the seizures on May 1 in coordination with the RCMP.
Politicians and regulators who respect citizens build in lots of advance notice when they plan policy changes. They often include a “coming into force” date years in the future.
The bigger the change, the longer the lead time.
The RCMP is doing something different.
It’s enforcing a surprise confiscation order that took effect before it was signed, and is promoting actions that have no basis in regulation as a mechanism for honest Canadians to avoid jail.
What the Regulation Says
Statutory Order and Regulation 2020-97 (SOR/2020-97, “Order Declaring an Amnesty Period”) published in the Canada Gazette on 01 May 2020 says:
- Owners of suddenly “Prohibited” rifles and shotguns (models listed in SOR/2020-96) are ordered to keep them locked up at home. No buying, selling or using.
- They are in illegal possession of the firearms.
- They are shielded from criminal liability only if they keep their gear locked up and surrender it to police by 30 April 2022.
What the Regulation Doesn’t Say
- SOR/2020-97 doesn’t mention a word about a possible post-confiscation payoff (fake “buyback”) or a pre-confiscation lockup (fake “grandfathering”).
Origin of Payoff and Lockup Options
Possible confiscation via payoff and/or lockup is mentioned by:
- Liberal Party Election Plan, Sept. 21. Campaign Platform.
- Mentions “buyback,” not “grandfathering.”
- Ministry of Public Safety, May 1: Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement.
- Published in Canada Gazette after SOR/2020-96, the so-called “ban list,” and “is not part of the Regulations or the Order.”
- The analysis mentions “buy-back” 13 times, “compensate” or “compensation” 9 times, and “grandfathering” 5 times.
- Ministry of Public Safety, May 1: Technical Briefing.
- Presentation slides mention “compensation” six times and “grandfathering” six times. No mention of the word “buyback.”
- Page 1: “Government intends to offer owners the choice of either grandfathering or compensation if they surrender the firearm. Details on grandfathering and compensation will be announced later.”
- Ministry of Public Safety, May 1: Webpage with Q&A on confiscation.
- Mentions “buy-back” six times.
- Mentions “grandfathering” once in question, not in answer.
- RCMP, May 1: Webpage on confiscations.
- Mentions “buy-back program” eight times and “grandfathering” zero times.
- Three references to “grandfathering regime” were deleted in early May.
- Minister of Justice David Lametti, July 20: Response to Petition E-2341 against confiscation.
- “The Government has also announced its intention to introduce a buy-back program and grandfathering regime,” Lametti said.
Evidence in Three Documents
The RCMP has promoted payoff and suppressed lockup in at least three documents.
- The RCMP webpage on the mass confiscations mentions the non-existent “buy-back program” eight times, and mentions “grandfathering” zero times.
- The RCMP deleted the “grandfathering” possibility from the webpage in early May.
2. May Flyer
- The RCMP flyer sent to gun owners in May warning them that they risked criminal liability mentions the non-existent “buy-back program” twice and the “grandfathering” program zero times.
3. July 20 Nullification Notice
- The RCMP Registrar of Firearms’ July 20 notice of firearm-registration nullification sent to 68,000 gun owners mentions a “buy-back program” three times and “grandfathering” zero times.
- The RCMP instructs gun owners to wait for the non-existent payoff option as the first way to avoid criminal charges or jail:
- “What are your options now?
- “Wait for further instructions to participate in the buy-back program.”
- “What are your options now?
Questions to RCMP, Ministry
TheGunBlog.ca Seeks Clarity: May
TheGunBlog.ca first asked the RCMP about its suppression of the lockup option on May 9.
The RCMP responded May 11, as we reported in RCMP Deletes ‘Grandfathering’ Option From Web Page on Gun Bans:
The reference to Grandfathering was removed to avoid providing examples of possible regimes that would be included in the buy-back program. The details of the buyback program are unknown and will be determined through Government.
Source: RCMP, Response to TheGunBlog.ca, 11 May 2020
Follow-Up in July
TheGunBlog.ca contacted the RCMP again in July, following the July 20 nullification notice.
Here’s the crux of our e-mail (which included the main points above), followed by the complete responses from the RCMP and Ministry of Public Safety.
E-Mail to RCMP
Date: 20 July 2020
Would you be willing to indicate:
- Which legislation, regulation, bill, etc. mentions the “buyback” intention?
- Why mention only the “buyback” intention and exclude the intention of a “grandfathering” option?
- Would you have any response to help firearm users understand how you approach communications on potential vs. actual regulatory changes?
Date: 21 July 2020
Good morning Nicolas,
Please contact Public Safety for these questions.
Cpl. Caroline Duval
RCMP-National Communication Services
E-Mail to Ministry of Public Safety
TheGunBlog.ca followed up with Public Safety, which oversees the RCMP.
From: Ministry of Public Safety
Date: 22 July 2020
Good morning Nicolas,
In response to your request, the Government intends to bring forward a buyback program as soon as possible.
We are looking at a range of options and will work with the provinces and territories to get this right for law-abiding gun owners. Our top priority is ensuring the safety and security of Canadians.
The development of this program will be determined through Parliament. We can’t prejudge what the result of the parliamentary process will be.
Conclusion: Regulate, Don’t Speculate
The job of regulators is to regulate, not to speculate. Apply rules that exist, don’t speculate about rules that don’t exist.
When the federal police agency and federal regulator in charge of administering the law proposes its favourite imaginary regulations, it has stepped outside its role.
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