A handgun owner (the “Owner”), who did not have a registration certificate for the handgun in question (the “Handgun”), was ordered, within 30 days, to surrender his handgun to a peace officer. The Court found the Owner ineligible to hold a registration certificate pursuant to sections 13 and 69 of the Firearms Act. New legislation deemed the Handgun prohibited and the amnesty period had expired.

Administrative law – Decisions of administrative tribunals – Firearms Officer – Firearms registration – licences – Judicial review – Interpretation of legislation – Standard of review of provincial court

R. v. Buhrs, [2007] A.J. No. 734, Alberta Provincial Court, June 29, 2007, M.G. Allen Prov. Ct. J.

The Owner applied pursuant to section 74 of the Firearms Act to review a decision of the Registrar prohibiting him from obtaining a registration certificate for the Handgun.

The Owner purchased the Handgun on October 22, 1997, at a time when it was classified as a restricted weapon. At that time, the Registrar of firearms informed the Owner that he will not qualify to possess the Handgun under the new firearms legislation. All registration certificates issued prior to this new legislation were deemed by Parliament to expire on December 31, 2002. Parliament enacted an amnesty period between October 1, 1998 to December 31, 2005 where firearms owners could be in possession of a prohibited firearm without facing criminal sanction. However, once this amnesty ended, a handgun owner, if he had not already properly disposed of the handgun, would be in contravention of the Firearms Act.

Pursuant to section 13 of the Firearms Act, a person is not eligible to hold a registration certificate for a firearm unless the person holds a license authorizing the possession of that type of firearm. The Owner did not have a registration certificate for the Handgun.

The Court found that the Registrar was correct in refusing to issue a registration certificate. Although the Owner may not have been at fault for not possessing a license at the time, the Court found he was not eligible to hold a license to possess the Handgun. Without this license, no registration certificate could be issued. The Court ordered the Owner to turn over the Handgun to the proper authorities within 30 days.

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