(Update Aug. 12: We are updating the How to File section as we get more information.)
TheGunBlog.ca — Canadians are going to court to fight the governing Liberal Party and federal police’s mass firearm confiscations targeting hunters, farmers, sport shooters and collectors.
Following is a Q&A with “CameronSS” on why and how they applied for a court hearing under Section 74 of the Firearms Act.
The filing followed a letter dated July 20 from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police – Registrar of Firearms, the so-called firearm-registration nullification notice. See a copy below.
The hearing is set for October.
“CameronSS” is the person’s username on Canadian Gun Nutz, the Internet discussion forum.
TheGunBlog.ca agreed to use the alias instead of their name after discussions in person, by phone and online over several months, and to respect CameronSS’s company policy against public advocacy.
The deadline to file for a hearing is within 30 days of the notice.
Help or Harm?
Lawyers and gun-owners associations agree that the Liberal confiscations are an unprecedented and unconstitutional abuse of power and procedure against honest Canadians. They are challenging the attacks at the Federal Court.
They disagree on the validity of the July 20 letters, and how the 68,000 owners targeted by the notice should respond, or whether Section 74 hearings are more likely to help or harm.
Some lawyers advise against filing for a hearing.
This Isn’t Legal Advice
- This isn’t legal advice.
- TheGunBlog.ca hasn’t verified the speaker’s claims.
- TheGunBlog.ca added formatting, headings and links.
Jump to How to File
Q&A With CameronSS
Why did you apply for a Section 74 review after Canada’s main gun groups and gun lawyers said it may be pointless?
First, there simply isn’t consensus on that position. There are different and equally compelling interpretations out there.
With all due respect to some very experienced and capable experts, some of whom have been practicing law for almost as long as I have been alive, their opinions are rooted strictly in whether or not we can “win” the reference hearing, and the meaning of such a win.
I am fundamentally defining “win” differently.
The first issue is wanting to get an answer to what we don’t know.
We don’t know if these letters are a valid notice. We don’t know if the validity of the notice gives rise to a right to file a hearing. We don’t know if the revocation itself described in the notice is valid either.
We can speculate all day long, but I am uncomfortable with not knowing.
For all of the debate over our constitutional rights to own firearms in the first place, it is at least clear that we have this legal right to judicial review of a revocation to get answers.
The government is intent to make us all criminals.
They depend on our compliance in order to support this program. That’s been obvious for decades, and you can’t go into being a gun owner blind to this reality.
Part of the problem here is if the Registrar can get away with just making up an interpretation that denies us our rights to review, what else can they make up? Part of the right to review is to close the door on this kind of behaviour.
Exercising Our Rights
That right is worthless if we aren’t willing to exercise it.
Simply by exercising this right, even if only to certainly lose, we are demonstrating to the government that we will not sit idle while the government commits this attack on our community.
That’s a win in my books, no matter how the final verdict comes in.
What about the RCMP saying on July 30 that the July 20 notice isn’t a firearm-registration revocation that could trigger a Section 74 appeal?
The RCMP are claiming that these letters aren’t revocations. Maybe they are, Maybe they aren’t. The RCMP have claimed many things that ended up being false.
You will note that aside from mentioning the Order in Council again, they did not cite any provision in law to further support their claim, but do maintain that the implied course of action is to do nothing.
There are big consequences for our community whether the RCMP are right or wrong, but unless a judge issues a ruling one way or the other, the RCMP get to act like they are right, even though there is a broad consensus that they are acting outside of the law.
Letting that go unchecked has never worked out well for gun owners.
Why is this so significant to you, and to gun owners in general?
The ever-tightening stranglehold on civilian firearm owners in Canada will continue unabated, until we do something.
Every win, however small, pushes back that assault on freedom.
What makes you think you can win?
Having spent years going back and studying a century’s worth of Canadian firearm legislation, and reviewing dozens of Section 74 reference hearings from the past 20 years, many of which were by self-represented applicants who were eventually successful, I am very convinced that this is a winnable case.
What are “self-represented applicants”?
The “applicant” is the person who applies for the hearing, typically an owner of a firearm affected by the decision of a bureaucrat.
“Self-represented” means they are representing themselves in court, they don’t have a lawyer.
Let’s Get Skeptical
Do you have any concern a judge will say you’re wasting the court’s time, or that this isn’t a registration revocation so there is no case to be heard?
Not really. There is clearly a legitimate legal question to be answered here. Several in fact.
It’s entirely possible that the court decides that the RCMP is correct, and that this isn’t a decision of the Registrar of Firearms, and that the notices aren’t revocation notices, and the whole thing gets tossed out in the first 10 minutes.
Dubious Legal Authority
Based on the deficiencies of the notices, and the dubious legal authority cited, i.e., the lack of anything in legislation that supports the “automatic nullification” of certificates in these circumstances, gives great cause for concern, and I am confident that a judge is going to want to make a ruling on the merits.
Having a judge agree with the Registrar isn’t completely a loss.
Part of the problem is if they can just invent the law and act accordingly, without consequence, then they can just as quickly uninvent it and this could catch many firearms owners by surprise.
Bind the Registrar
Imagine if a person acts as though their firearm is unregistered based on this non-notice, and unwittingly commits the offence of violating a condition of the certificate, only to have the Crown and Registrar later argue that their “automatic nullification” was wrong and you had a certificate all along.
The government and RCMP have smart lawyers and staff, and unlimited resources. What makes you think you can outsmart them?
I am not going into this thinking I can outsmart them.
I’m going into this thinking that their bureaucratic constraints will be their own undoing.
Contrary to popular belief nothing in government is unlimited.
No government department has a blank cheque for legal expenses, and everyone has a boss they are accountable to.
Lastly, having reviewed the case law extensively, the law is overwhelmingly on our side.
How long does it take and how much does it cost to apply for a Section 74 hearing?
The hardest part was finding the form and finding out where to file. That took lots of e-mails and phone calls.
Once I had that, filling out and sending the form took me less than 3 minutes.
Who should apply and who shouldn’t?
Anyone who has received one of these letters, as a holder of formerly “Restricted” registered firearms, should initiate the hearing, for the simple reason that if anyone wins any concession in one of these hearings, it is unlikely to benefit anyone who did not file.
What’s the potential risk to someone who applies? How could it backfire?
It really can’t.
The worst possible outcome is that the judge just sides with the government 100%, and that leaves us exactly where we started.
And you would have the right to appeal that too.
What are your worst-case, base-case and best-case outcomes?
- Worst Case: I guess the worst case scenario is that the judge just takes the exact position of the RCMP, and dismisses the case. Should this happen, this is a clear error in law that would readily give rise to an appeal, and from there it would basically be up to the professionals and the gun orgs to decide if they wanted to pick it up from there and run with it.
- Base Case: No matter what, we will get a ruling as to whether this is a valid notice, and where there was a valid revocation. That might be all we get.
- Best Case: The moon shot would be winning the ability to use our firearms again. And there are a couple different ways we can get there.
What happens next?
I filed in late July.
I was assigned a hearing date in October.
At that hearing we set the schedule for the rest of the reference. At that hearing we will find out how the Crown and the Registrar are going to respond.
RCMP Registrar of Firearms 20 July 2020 Nullification Notice
(Personal details are whited out.)
How to File
Consider consulting a lawyer. If you are a lawyer, please contact us.
- Contact your local provincial court to request the form and where to send it. This is the longest and hardest part. (For Ontario Court of Justice: E-mail addresses by location).
- Download application, or ask court clerk to e-mail it to you.
- Fill in application. Tick box that says: “Revocation of a registration certificate.”
- Send the application with the RCMP July 20 notice to the Court Registrar of your local courthouse.
- Get confirmation that they received it.
How to Request the Form (By Phone or E-Mail)
I’d like to apply for a reference hearing to appeal the revocation of a registration certificate under the Firearms Act.
Could you please e-mail me the form, and tell me where to send it?
Your Full Name
Application Forms (Partial List)
- Name of council for applicant: Self-Represented
- Most of us will have one box to tick: “Revocation of a registration certificate.” If your application asks for more info, provide it to match your situation.
- If you have to give more reasons, you might say: The revocation of my registration certificate appears to be unreasonable, unjustified and without basis in law.
Related Opinions & Resources
CCFR – Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights
CSSA – Canadian Shooting Sports Association
- July 21: The RCMP’s “Not A-Registration-Certificate-Revocation” Letter
- Jan. 07: The FULL Story on Canada’s Firearm Licence Revocation System
NFA – National Firearms Association
RCMP – Royal Canadian Mounted Police
- July 30: What You Need to Know About the Government of Canada’s New Prohibition on Certain Firearms and Devices
Solomon Friedman via FirearmsLaw.ca
- 2012 Jan. 05: Armi Jager AP-80 “Revocation Notice” PDF