Reaction across the province is pouring in after the province passed the Saskatchewan Firearms Act which aims to enhance public safety and protect the rights of law-abiding firearms owners.
The new firearms legislation passed on April 6, 2023, right before the Easter long weekend. In a statement, the Corrections, Policing and Public Safety Minister said it’s important for Saskatchewan to have its own provincial firearms legislation to ensure the concerns of responsible firearms owners are taken into account.
“This legislation will create a strong, consistent framework to enhance public safety and support the proud tradition of responsible firearms use and ownership in this province,” said Minister Christine Tell.
The Federation of Saskatchewan Indigenous Nations (FSIN), however, said this new legislation is another direct violation of treaty rights regarding the inherent right for First Nations peoples to hunt.
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“It’s frustrating. Simply the lack of consultation,” said FSIN Vice-Chief Heather Bear. “We know that our treaty trump any laws … but I want to make it clear, in any new legislation that treaty hunters do not require a PAL or a license when asserting and exercising their inherent and treaty and constitutional right to hunt.”
FSIN said whenever they challenge legislation, it’s usually by going to court and litigation. Bear do not say if FSIN plans on taking the province to court but the executive will continue to advocate and work with their legal policy analysts on legislations especially The Saskatchewan Firearms Act and the sale of Crown Lands.
“We know and understand what the infringements are and where they are,” she said. “I think that should be a part of a meaningful consultation process that’s agreed on by both governments and First Nations.”
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Aaron Strauss, the owner of Cache Tactical Supply in Regina, said the new legislation is a step in the right direction and is a positive move for firearms owners in Saskatchewan.
“There’s currently legislation from the federal government that is going after law abiding firearms owners and does actually nothing for advancing issues of crime,” he said. “So, the Saskatchewan Firearms Act is a really good way to ensure that the rights of law-abiding citizens are respected.”
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The Saskatchewan Firearms Act will establish licensing requirements for seizure agents involved in firearms expropriation, require and oversee fair compensation for any firearms being seized; and establish a provincial firearms regulatory system that will promote the safe and responsible use of firearms.
According to a release, the Saskatchewan Firearms Office will administer the new legislation and will also take on an expanded role in prosecuting non-violent provincial firearms offenses.
“The Saskatchewan Firearms Act is critical to our work to improve public safety, promote responsible firearms ownership and assist the police in addressing crimes committed with illegal firearms,” said Chief Firearms Officer Robert Freberg.
“This legislation, and the significant funding we have received in this year’s provincial budget, will be put to good use as we continue to develop the Saskatchewan Firearms Office.”
The government has dedicated approximately $8.9 million to the Saskatchewan Firearms Office in the 2023-24 budget.
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