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Freedom Conservative Party leader looks to loosen restrictions on firearms
Derek Fildebrandt, leader of the Freedom Conservative Party, is shooting for a brand new piece of legislation in Alberta that would give residents more rights and freedoms, including the ability to bear arms.
His party announced on Friday that if elected, they would usher in an Alberta Constitution, a legal framework that would provide more rights to residents, even beyond those in Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“[It] would include rights to reasonable firearm ownership. Free speech as our most supreme right that can’t be overridden by other Charter issues. Rights to self-defence and defence of property and property rights itself,” he said in an interview with CTV News. “These are very important rights that have been excluded from the federal Charter and provinces have the right to their own Constitutions, so we’re calling for the creation of an Alberta Constitution.”
He says the RCMP has misclassified a number of different firearms on the market, notably the semi-automatic AR-15.
“The AR-15 looks like a scary weapon but it’s essentially if you took a Ford Taurus and put fire stripes on it, it would look like a more badass car than it really is. There are rifles like that are just misclassified because they look scary.”
Fildebrandt says his government would also do more to make sure that people who work in the backcountry on a regular basis would have the protection they need against dangerous predators, provided they are properly trained, screened and have their credentials kept up to date.
“We are not proposing the Wild West here, but we are talking … if you’re a mountain climber; some of my family members are mountain climbers [and] they’ve come across grizzly bears and cougars. We’re talking about a very reasonable expanding of protective measures for people.”
The expanded laws the FCP is proposing also includes more property rights, something that Fildebrandt says would have dealt with the situation faced by an Okotoks farmer a lot faster than it had been.
“It shouldn’t take political pressure to stop this kind of wrongful prosecution, so we propose, in an Alberta Constitution, to add property rights, self-defence and to instruct our Crown prosecutors to stop wasting their time and their resources on victims and go after the people who are actually attacking their property.”
Devon Martin, a competitive shooter who lives in Calgary, says he started out by hunting with his father and has experience with shooting a number of different firearms.
“I own multiple semi-automatic sporting rifles, some bolt action hunting rifles as well as some semi-automatic handguns and I’ve had revolvers too.”
He says many people he knows are touchy about any change in legislation, particular those that could turn a law-abiding gun owner into a criminal overnight.
“A lot of guys have had issues with 10-22 magazines. It’s a .22 long rifle magazine that had a capacity of 25 rounds. But it fit into something else, so they kiboshed that and made it prohibited to have anything over 10. That made a lot of people overnight, criminals.”
Jason Kenney, speaking in Calgary on Thursday, said Albertans who live in rural communities are particularly vulnerable and something more needs to be done to protect them.
“We do not encourage vigilantism, we strongly discourage that. But we do think the unique vulnerability of people in very remote areas should be at least one thing the Crown counsel takes into account.”
He adds that the ability of police to protect someone in an incident should also be considered.
Fildebrandt, who admits to owning as many guns as he likes, says everyone he knows is responsible with their firearms.
“I’m a handgun owner, many Albertans are handgun owners. The vast majority of us store and keep our handguns very safely; we comply with the law.”
The election is scheduled to take place on April 16.
(With files from Chris Epp)