Mayor Don Scott says it would “be a mess” logistically if the municipality pursued new federal legislation allowing local governments to ban handguns. Scott added even if he was interested in a handgun ban, the bill pushes more financial and logistical responsibilities onto municipal governments.
“How can small communities in Alberta enforce such a rule or such an issue? It would seem near impossible,” he said during a Wednesday interview.
Councillor Verna Murphy agreed in a Thursday interview after criticizing the legislation on her Facebook page. If a community is interested in banning handguns, Murphy said there should at least be a standard set of regulations, since enforcing different bylaws on a polarizing topic would be confusing to the justice system and gun owners.
“The federal government, and the provincial government to some extent, they keep downloading so much to the municipalities that just costs the municipalities more money and make us liable for things that we never had to deal with before,” she said. “That’s really unfair to the municipalities, especially given the way the economy is and the uncertainty of everything moving forward.”
Council has already protested other recent federal gun control legislation, after the federal government added more than 1,500 firearms to a list of firearms prohibited in Canada. The motion condemning the gun control laws was opposed by councillors Bruce Inglis and Krista Balsom. It was supported by Scott and councillors Murphy, Mike Allen, Sheila Lalonde, Phil Meagher, Jane Stroud and Claris Voyageur.
“Looking to reduce gun violence and crime should be dealt with by the federal government in working with provinces,” said Scott. “The way the federal government has gone about this has definitely created some challenges.”
Other municipal leaders in Alberta have been critical of the legislation. Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson and Justice Minister Kaycee Madu have all dismissed pursuing local handgun bans.
“Even though I generally like municipalities to have more powers, I’ve never been in favour of this approach,” said Nenshi.
Other mayors have been supportive of the new powers. Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum are both pushing for local handgun bans.
– With files from Vincent McDermott, Jeff Labine and Tiffany Crawford