Legislation: Gun Laws Gun laws under fire

by P.J. Harston
Northern News Services

NNSL (OCT 04/96) -The Northwest Territories has joined the Yukon and a number of provinces fighting the new federal gun laws.

Territorial and provincial governments want to bring legal action against Ottawa that would allow them to opt out of financing and operating of national gun registries.

Justice Minister Kelvin Ng announced earlier this week that the NWT would jump into the fray, despite a government-requested legal opinion that suggested such action may not be worthwhile.

Ng, who was not in Yellowknife at the time of the announcement, was unavailable to discuss the decision.

Federal Justice Minister Allan Rock said late last week that, while he wasn't surprised with the multi-jurisdictional challenge, he doesn't see a legal basis for the argument.

It's within Ottawa's constitutional rights to enact gun-control legislation, he said.

Under the federal gun-control bill, introduced by into Parliament in February, the registries will be controlled by provinces and territories.

Bill C-68 calls for mandatory registration of firearms, including hunting rifles and shotguns, and for the restriction of handguns and assault-type weapons.

As well, beginning this year, all gun owners will have five years to obtain firearm licences, which will be renewable every five years.

Nation-wide the registry is expected to cost Canadians more than $80-million to set up and operate.

The territorial justice department has not yet been told how much money Ottawa will give it to handle the program.