Alberta’s justice minister says provincial prosecutors are to take over the handling of charges under the federal Firearms Act starting in the new year.
Tyler Shandro says he is also advising Alberta’s prosecutors that the province does not consider it to be in the public interest to go after law-abiding owners of banned weapons — although he can’t tell them when to lay charges.
Shandro says he has written to his federal counterpart, David Lametti, to advise him of the change starting Jan. 1 and says it is being done using existing constitutional rules and does not involve Alberta’s recently passed sovereignty act.
Lametti’s office says he is to comment in Ottawa later today.
The move reflects the province’s concern over a federal ban on a range of firearms implemented in May 2020.
Those who possess these banned firearms have until the end of October 2023 to turn them in under an amnesty.
Shandro says he is advising prosecutors that if they plan to charge someone for having a banned weapon, they should consider whether the person owned the weapon before the ban and whether the owner is being charged with crimes related to using it.
He says the aim is to prevent criminalizing people who bought the guns in good faith before the ban and continue to use them responsibly.