Nova Scotia won't prosecute gun-registry offenders

spectr17

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Nova Scotia refusing to prosecute those who fail to register long guns

JOHN LEWANDOWSKI

TRURO, N.S. (CP) - Nova Scotia has joined three western provinces in refusing to prosecute anyone who fails to register a rifle or shotgun under Ottawa's much maligned gun control legislation.

Justice Minister Jamie Muir said Tuesday he has directed the province's Public Prosecution Service to refer Criminal Code and Firearms Act charges involving the registration of long guns to federal prosecutors. "It's their law, let them enforce it," he said of the federal requirement that long-gun owners register their weapons by July 1 or face the possibility of legal action.

Flanked by several rural members of the Nova Scotia legislature, Muir called the registry a flawed process that will only burden the province's legal system if enforced.

"We believe the public is served best when our prosecution service focuses on serious criminal matters," he told a news conference in central Nova Scotia.

"It makes no sense to clog up the courts with procedural matters around long-gun registrations."

Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta have also stated they won't co-operate with Ottawa in prosecuting those who fail to register long guns.

However, Alberta officials have said the province will act if the matter involves the federal Criminal Code but not the federal Firearm Act.

Both sets of laws state that anyone possessing a firearm as defined in Section 2 of the code must hold a valid firearms registration certificate.

In Ottawa, federal Solicitor General Wayne Easter said the laws must be upheld.

"Governments have a responsibility . . . to uphold the laws of the land and it's up to the province to prosecute under those laws," he said after leaving a cabinet meeting.

However, Easter said he would prefer if gun owners simply registered their firearms.

"I want to outline very, very specifically that it is not our intent to go after legitimate gun owners. It is our intent to have them register under the system so that we can have safer communities and safer streets."

Tony Rogers, president of the Nova Scotia Wildlife Federation, said he and other hunters have been pushing the province to act for some time.

"This sends a very important message back to Ottawa that they have no support for this law down here," he said.

"It has been a knee-jerk reaction, brought forward by (former justice minister) Allan Rock to control crime in his big city, knowing full well that the only ones they were going to catch in this web were the legal guys anyway."

The registry, which has been described as a $1-billion boondoggle by opponents, remains a hot political topic, especially in rural areas.

For Brooke Taylor, a provincial Conservative who represents a large farming area in central Nova Scotia, the government's announcement helps resolve a personal dilemma.

He owns an old shotgun he's been trying to register under the new law but can't find the serial number on it.

"If I can't register that gun because of that particular glitch, if we hadn't done this, I would become a criminal on July 1st," Taylor said.

"We have no interest in making law-abiding citizens criminals, and this clearly says to Ottawa we have no interest in participating in this sham."

Originally tagged at $2 million, the registry's costs could surpass $1 billion by 2005, the federal auditor general said in December. The Canadian Alliance has suggested enforcing the Firearms Act could easily cost another $1 billion.

Muir stressed that Nova Scotia's refusal to prosecute only refers to the registration of long guns. He said anyone who uses them to commit a crime "will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
 



BDB

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Wow, a little common sense from the Gov. I'm happily suprised. When I left NS for California I left 4 guns behind with a buddy. Due to this rediculous law he had to register them in his name since I wasn't around and I have no idea what crap I will have to go through to get them back some day.
 


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