Bureaucrats gunning for rifle owners | Columnists | Opinion | Toronto Sun Bureaucrats gunning for rifle owners 49 BY BRIAN LILLEY ,PARLIAMENTARY BUREAU FIRST POSTED: THURSDAY, JANUARY 12, 2012 08:44 PM EST | UPDATED: THURSDAY, JANUARY 12, 2012 08:49 PM EST When Bill C-68, the gun registry bill, was being debated, opponents said registration of firearms would lead to their eventual confiscation. Now that is happening. Just before Christmas, owners of certain firearms were informed by letter that their rifles had been reclassified as prohibited weapons in Canada and they must be turned over to police officials. Failure to comply would mean the weapons would be taken by force and the owners thrown in jail. The reason for the change: The rifle looks scary. The Armi Jager AP-80 is a .22-calibre rimfire rifle that looks like the AK-47, the Soviet-era military rifle. The fact is the AP-80 doesnt work like the AK-47, fires a vastly smaller round than the AK-47 and has no parts that are interchangeable with the AK-47. This change appears to be based on looks. The decision comes from the RCMP-run Canadian Firearms Centre. Bureaucrats at the centre made the decision to change the rifles classification from non-restricted to prohibited without any input from Parliament. A court upheld the decision, but the problem truly is that bureaucrats have been delegated this authority at all. Hundreds of Canadians who followed the law and registered their legally purchased firearms with the gun registry are now seeing those very same rifles taken away by government order. It seems odd this would happen just ahead of the gun registrys demise. But lawyer Ed Burlew, who has represented many people in cases involving the registry, said on my show Byline that police forces across the country appear to be stepping up their raids on the homes of gun owners before they lose access to the registry. Firearms that are reclassified and seized, like the AP-80, are surrendered without any compensation. When the government takes your personal property, dont you think it should at least pay you for it? There is also a problem with allowing the police to decide what is allowed and what is banned while they themselves are enforcing the laws. We elect politicians to make law and its the role of police and judges to enforce the law. This system has it all messed up. Would we allow this when it comes to traffic violations and let police forces set and change speed limits? No. Would we allow the police to decide which substances are considered narcotics and which ones Canadians are legally allowed to consume? No, and if anyone tried you can bet the media would be up in arms over this. Harper government takes hard line against soft drugs, would scream the headlines. Where is the outrage over the government allowing police to confiscate private property? It doesnt exist. Instead they are chasing a story about a foreign lesbian couple who got married in Canada and are now complaining they cant get divorced because they do not live here. Public Safety Minister Vic Toews was asked about this gun registry mess on Sun News Network and defended the current situation. It is not a decision that I make as a politician, its something that the police and classification experts make, Toews said. Im guessing people who backed the Conservatives over their promise to scrap the gun registry would have problems with this. Its time for Toews and the rest of the Harper government to wake up and fix this mess.