The Alberta government will require individuals and organizations to be licensed by the province before they can begin handling firearms under Ottawa’s confiscation regime, saying the federal government’s current plan is “reckless” and will jeopardize the safe handling of weapons.

The new regulation marks the province’s second action under the Alberta Firearms Act, which quickly passed the legislature last month, and is hindering the federal government’s efforts to confiscate Albertans’ legally-acquired property.

Alberta Justice Minister Tyler Shandro says the federal government appears to be relying on Public Safety Canada to confiscate the weapons, calling the federal department “a large and inefficient bureaucracy.”

“In normal circumstances, the federal government would have hit the pause button,” Shandro wrote.

“Unfortunately, we continue to receive indications that the opposite is occurring. Their decision to move forward with the confiscation program will jeopardize provincial requirements for the safe handling, transportation and storage of firearms. We will not allow that to happen.”

In May 2020, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced he was banning more than 1,500 models of firearms, including AR-15s, through an order in council. He said owners of these guns would have a two-year amnesty period to come into compliance with the prohibition.

The buyback program requires firearms owners to sell their guns to the government or have them rendered inoperable at federal expense.

After federal Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino wrote to the provinces requesting help confiscating weapons deemed illegal under the order in council, Alberta told Ottawa it will not allow its provincial policing resources to be used to fulfill Ottawa’s confiscation regime.

Shandro also told the Alberta RCMP the confiscation program is not a provincial priority, and as such, is an inappropriate use of police resources.

In a Monday news release, Alberta said Ottawa is signalling that it’s prepared to take front-line police officers off the street to implement the federal firearms confiscation program.

“Public Safety Canada also appears to be considering contracting with untrained personnel to supplement the use of policing resources,” the release said.

Alberta Chief Firearms Officer Teri Bryant said Canadians’ concern over violent crime is rising and Ottawa’s decision to waste police resources and contract untrained personnel is “reckless.” He also said the federal government would compromise public safety by jeopardizing two areas of provincial jurisdiction — the safe storage and handling of firearms.

“The Alberta chief firearms office continues to call on the federal government to focus its resources on illegal firearms activity rather than targeting law-abiding firearms owners,” Bryant said. “Taking firearms away from responsible owners will not improve public safety.”

There are 341,988 possession/acquisition licence holders in Alberta. Albertans own the second-highest number of firearms classified as restricted or prohibited by the federal government.

The province’s first act under the Alberta Firearms Act was to require that municipalities, police services and police commissions receive written approval from Shandro before entering into funding agreements or accepting funding from the federal government to take part in the confiscation program.


  • Rachel Emmanuel

    Rachel is a seasoned political reporter who’s covered government institutions from a variety of levels. A Carleton University journalism graduate, she was a multimedia reporter for three local Niagara newspapers. Her work has been published in the Toronto Star. Rachel was the inaugural recipient of the Political Matters internship, placing her at The Globe and Mail’s parliamentary bureau. She spent three years covering the federal government for iPolitics. Rachel is the Alberta correspondent for True North based in Edmonton.