Last week, thousands of rifles that had been legally purchased by properly licenced Canadians had their classifications under the Firearms Act changed by the RCMP, from non-restricted to prohibited. For these thousands of law-abiding gun owners, who had complied with all applicable laws when purchasing their firearms, paid taxes on the purchase and then stored and used their firearms properly, this was tantamount to a seizure of property without compensation.
Our law requires anyone who purchases or possesses a firearm or ammunition to be licenced, but there are three levels of licence: non-restricted, which covers most hunting rifles and shotguns; a restricted licence, mostly for handguns; and a prohibited licence that covers fully automatic firearms, easily concealed snub-nosed pistols and other exotic bits of hardware. Prohibited licences are only available to a very select few Canadians who already owned prohibited-class firearms when the laws were enacted in 1995, and have not been issued since. By reclassifying thousands of rifles as prohibited, the RCMP made it effectively impossible for even a licenced, law-abiding gun owner to continue to legally possess rifles they already owned.