Not so lawless in the U.S.A.

crime column reports feedback on previous column regarding firearms laws in Canada.

  • Feb. 16, 2011 8:00 a.m.

Firearms registration continues to be a political football with the CPC (Harper’s government) dangling the carrot of abolishing the Firearms Registry if given a majority and the Liberals ranting about public safety and the banning of handgun ownership by lawful citizens, is an example of the emails we received generated by our Jan. 19 column on the firearms’ registry.

An equal number of readers wrote supporting the registry feeling if firearms owners have nothing to hide, they shouldn’t object to registering their weapons to allay the safety concerns of non-gun owners.

Others inked complaining of the difficulty in obtaining a firearm in Canada and lambasting the Possession and Acquisition License (PAL-firearms license) process.

One reader scribed saying he was in California recently and visited several guns stores and was surprised with the state’s firearms restrictions, having assumed a more liberal philosophy would prevail in an American state.

The store owner told the visitor that if he were a resident, he would be finger printed there at the store and his application would be processed by the Federal Bureau of Alcohol and Tobacco (ATF) within 28 days. If approved, the purchaser would have to take a firearms safety test with a pass/fail score determined by the clerk.

The store owner was surprised to hear that a Canadian PAL holder could purchase any legal firearm either privately or commercially without further enquiry.

Arizona seems to have what the writer had expected from California, a more lenient firearms ownership philosophy. Last year, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed a bill allowing people to carry a concealed weapon (CW) without a permit.The legislation eliminates a background check or firearms course previously required for the CW. In 2009 Arizona passed legislation allowing people with concealed-weapons permits to take their guns into restaurants and bars.

You may recall in 2009 a man openly carried a semiautomatic rifle to a Phoenix speech presentation by President Obama, much to the consternation of Obama’s Secret Service Detail. Some applauded the carrier while others were appalled by the ramifications of such an act.

American federal law requires a background check to purchase a firearm, just as in California, but that doesn’t apply if the seller isn’t a firearms dealer.

Wyoming requires no permit to purchase a handgun, no registration and no licensing.

Washington D.C. recently had their handgun ban declared unconstitutional with law enforcement responding with extremely tight permit restrictions.

Hawaii appears to be one of the most restrictive states.

The archipelago state requires a Permit to Acquire (PA) issued at the discretion of the county police chief. There is a 14 day waiting period for the permit which is valid for six days (Canada’s PAL is valid for five years.)

A separate permit is required for each handgun to be purchased.

In addition to passing a criminal background check, all applicants must provide an affidavit of mental health, agree to the release of medical records, be fingerprinted by the FBI (not the ATF) and pass a handgun safety course.

If you receive the PA and purchase a handgun, it must be registered with the police chief within five days.

Handgun magazines with a

capacity of more than 10 rounds are prohibited.

These restrictions are in addition to the federal process mentioned previously.

Contact the National Firearms Association or the National Rifle Association for further details on Canadian and American firearms legislation.

Are Canadian firearms laws looking any better? Let us know your thoughts at

Jon McCormick is with Rural Crime Watch based in 100 Mile House. He writes bi-monthly for the Cariboo Observer.

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