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Saskatchewan Seeks to Intervene in Legal Challenges to Federal Gun Ban

The government of Saskatchewan is looking to get involved in ongoing court challenges of the federal firearms ban.

Saskatchewan has applied for intervener status in a case before the Federal Court of Appeal, according to a Feb. 5 government news release.

The Federal Court of Canada heard the original case challenging the firearms ban in April 2023. The case was dismissed on Oct. 30, 2023, but four of the applicants then filed an appeal.

“Saskatchewan is firm in its opposition to the federal firearms ban, which unfairly targets law-abiding firearms owners and will have little impact on firearms-related crime,” Corrections, Policing and Public Safety Minister Paul Merriman said in the release.

The Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights along with several firearms dealers and gun owners filed their appeal on Nov. 29, 2023, following a ruling by Justice Catherine Kane on Oct. 30 that said the government did not exceeded its authority by bringing forth the ban.

Saskatchewan’s Justice Minister and Attorney General Bronwyn Eyre said the government believe in the merits of the case “on administrative and constitutional grounds.”

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“The federal ban already includes up to 1,800 [firearms] ‘variants,’ will cost billions of dollars, and directly conflicts with sections of the Criminal Code which state that firearms that can reasonably be used for hunting or sporting purposes cannot be banned,” Ms. Eyre said in the release.

The province passed its Saskatchewan Firearms Act in 2023, which is intended to “protect the rights of lawful firearms owners” from federal gun-control legislation.

“It is important for Saskatchewan to have its own provincial firearms legislation to ensure the concerns of responsible firearms owners are taken into account,” Corrections, Policing and Public Safety Minister Christine Tell said in April 2023.

“This legislation will create a strong, consistent framework to enhance public safety and support the proud tradition of responsible firearms use and ownership in this province.”

In 2020, Prime Minster Justin Trudeau introduced a ban on 1,500 types of so-called “assault-style” firearms and components. The ban followed a deadly mass shooting in which a gunman posing as an RCMP officer killed 22 people in Nova Scotia. The gunman, 51-year-old Gabriel Wortman, had several semi-automatic handguns and rifles which were not obtained legally. The gunman didn’t have a Canadian firearms licence and was suspected to have smuggled the guns in from the United States.

As part of the move, the government gave gun owners about two years to surrender firearms that fell under the ban. This amnesty was expanded to October 2025, according to the RCMP.

“Prohibiting these firearms immediately freezes the market in Canada for the most prevalent assault-style firearms that are not suitable for hunting or sports shooting purposes,” then-Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair said. “These dangerous firearms are designed for the battlefield, not for communities, but have been used tragically to target women, students and worshippers because they are efficient in maximizing fatalities.”

The legislation has been widely criticized by the Conservatives, some provincial governments, firearms groups, indigenous groups and others, saying the measures unfairly target lawful gun owners without addressing illegally obtained weapons and criminal networks responsible for the majority of gun violence.

The legislation was paired with a buyback program that proposed to compensate owners for firearms that were legally purchased but ultimately confiscated under the ban.

Matthew Horwood contributed to this report. 

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