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Sask. introduces Firearms Act in effort to increase gun owner rights, public safety

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The Government of Saskatchewan introduced legislation on Thursday aiming to protect the rights of lawful gun owners and increase public safety.

The announcement comes as the federal government looks to introduce Bill C-21, which is legislation restricting ownership of firearms.

The province said the Saskatchewan Firearms Act will establish licensing requirements for businesses or individuals, require and oversee fair compensation for any guns being seized, and require forensic and ballistic testing of seized firearms.

The act will also establish a provincial firearms regulatory system that will promote the safe use of firearms.

“We want people in this province to be safe and secure as they possibly can,” Christine Tell, Corrections, Policing and Public Safety Minister said.

The Saskatchewan Firearms Office (SFO) will primarily administer the new piece of legislation, according to a news release.

"The enhanced mandate this legislation provides will expand our office's ability to promote responsible firearms use and improve community safety," Chief Firearms Officer Robert Freberg said in the release.

The government dedicated about $3.2 million this year to begin development of several firearms initiatives, including establishing a lab to support police services, establishing a committee to determine the fair market value of any guns, enhancing training and education, and launching a Saskatchewan marketing campaign to promote gun safety.

“People who are lawfully in possession of firearms, PAL owners who are heavily vetted,” Tell explained. “These people, these legal firearm owners are not the ones committing the crimes.”

NDP MLA Nicole Sarauer said their government wants to ensure it will pass through the legislature.

“Very curious to ask questions about, in particular there are some provisions in there around criminality aspects that just want to make sure this will pass constitutional musters,” Sarauer said.

Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) believe the province is doing what it can to help out rural residents like ranchers and producers.

“The ranchers, and the farmers, to people that live out in rural areas, I think the provincial reaction is warranted,” Ray Orb, president of SARM explained. “I think some of the things they are proposing will help quite a bit.”

Air-soft guns are also at risk of being banned under Bill C-21, which Strauss said is bad for business.

“As a business, you can’t take the risk of having inventory that turns into dead stock,” Strauss said.

CTV News also reached out to the federal government but have not received a response.

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