POLITICS

Federal government to review RCMP decision to prohibit Swiss Arms rifle

02/28/2014 02:54 EST | Updated 04/30/2014 05:59 EDT
OTTAWA - The Harper government, which has championed the rights of gun owners for years, is reviewing a decision by the RCMP to effectively ban a previously legal rifle.

The Mounties recently reclassified the Swiss Arms Classic Green carbine as a prohibited weapon, essentially banning it.

"I am upset by this unacceptable decision regarding Swiss Arms rifles," Steven Blaney, minister of Public Safety, said in a statement Friday.

"This decision was made by bureaucrats, not elected officials. I have therefore ordered an urgent review of this unfortunate situation."

"All options are on the table to ensure that no firearms owner who acted in good faith suffers any consequence as a result of this situation."

Alberta Tory MP Chris Warkentin raised the issue in question period Friday, saying the rifles had been legally sold for a decade.

He says there have never been any criminal events reported involving the weapon, but it has been banned at the stroke of a pen.

The issue is tricky for the Harper government, which campaigned for years to eliminate the long-gun registry and even went to court to keep Quebec from holding on to existing records from the registry.

The National Firearms Association said in a statement that there are 1,000 to 1,800 of the rifles in Canadian hands.

"The government will not be offering compensation and will be demanding that the firearms, which cost between $3,000-$4,000 be surrendered," the statement said.

"The government is suggesting that all affected firearms owners contact the distributors from which the firearms were purchased for reimbursement."

The association said the ban is part of a quiet RCMP effort to prohibit firearms in Canada.

"Access-to-information records show that RCMP have an aggressive firearms reclassification agenda and that prohibitions will not stop with the Swiss Arms series rifles," the association said on its website.

Its Facebook page is even more direct with this posting: "Has RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson declared war on law-abiding firearm owners?"

The association said the weapons have been around for years without incident and some of them were even formally listed in the gun registry before the RCMP decided on prohibition.

The RCMP has not given an explanation of its decision.

The gun association calls it an assault on the rights and private property of law-abiding gun owners.

It's urging people to contact the government and write their MPs to get the decision overturned.