REGINA — You don’t have to worry about your town, city or RM in Saskatchewan passing a bylaw banning handguns, something the federal government will soon be allowing municipalities to do. That’s because, at least in Saskatchewan, they can’t.
Last year the Government of Saskatchewan passed legislation prohibiting Saskatchewan municipalities from making such bans, and as municipalities exist at the pleasure of the provincial government, that’s essentially the last word.
Premier Scott Moe was asked about this during the Feb. 16 COVID-19 briefing, which took place a few hours after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and a number of federal cabinet ministers announced another round of gun control legislation to be introduced.
Asked if the province would be doing anything in response, Moe said, “Well, I would say that we already have. We passed legislation this last session that really makes that portion of the announcement that the federal government made today, with respect to municipalities enacting bans on how handguns are moved around, or any type of municipal legislation with respect to handguns, isn't available to Saskatchewan municipalities. We passed that legislation last session.”
He said the broader concern that we would have with the gun legislation that is being moved on is a lack of consultation with provincial governments. “In fact, I think our consultation has ultimately, you know, amounted to a phone call after the legislation was introduced publicly. That's the degree of consultation that our province, at least Saskatchewan, has had. So we've had to be fairly proactive in our efforts of passing legislation last section that would prevent this patchwork of numerous different municipal laws in different communities across Saskatchewan. There's one set of firearms regulations in the province. That is interpreted by a provincially-appointed fire chief firearms officer of which we had proactively put in place, as well. Understanding this is the federal government's jurisdiction, but the laws will be interpreted by a provincial appointee and the chief firearms officer, here in Saskatchewan.
“Had we been consulted, I think we would have quickly indicated to the federal government that it isn't law-abiding firearms owners that are the problem when it comes to crime rates, using firearms. It most certainly is firearms that are acquired by a different way, either smuggled and I think they're addressing that here today, but also store stolen firearms, that are responsible for many of the challenges that we have with firearms-related offenses here in Saskatchewan. And I think there's an opportunity for the federal government to increase their attention to dealing with property crimes that involve theft of a firearm,” Moe said.