Firearms bylaw offers enforcement options

A newly proposed bylaw will attempt to restrict the use of firearms and other weapons within the town limits of Blackfalds.

A newly proposed bylaw will attempt to restrict the use of firearms and other weapons within the town limits of Blackfalds.

Town councillors gave first reading to the firearms bylaw during a meeting on Feb. 24th.

CAO Myron Thompson told council the Town had an existing bylaw that did regulate the use of firearms, but with the newly introduced fire protection bylaw, which includes the use of fireworks, it will be rescinded.

The newly proposed firearms bylaw will then allow increased protection and enforcement capabilities within the community.

“We’ve had a considerable discussion at the policing meeting, and both the senior peace officers and RCMP have reviewed it,” said Thompson. “We trust the content of the bylaw meets the requirements for them to enforce.”

According to the bylaw, firearms or weapons, including slingshots, air pistols and air guns, gas powered pistols and guns and all types of archery equipment, are not permitted to be discharged in the town boundaries.

Individuals cannot transport any loaded firearm or weapon within the town.

A request for authorization must be received by a senior municipal enforcement officer to use a firearm or weapon for other purposes in the town, such as pest control, scientific uses, historic events or archery and firearms practice.

Anyone who violates the bylaw can be subject to a fine of $250 up to $2,500.

Councillor William Taylor stated he liked the bylaw until weapons and firearms were grouped in the same category. “I just think it goes too far,” he said. “I don’t think the bylaw will stop criminals doing what they do.”

He noted firearms and weapons should not be grouped together, as there is a difference between a gun and a slingshot. Councillor Richard Poole questioned if the bylaw, under the weapons section, did include compound bows, cross bows and other types of archery equipment.

“It’s meant to be all inclusive,” said Thompson.

“We have respect for our bylaw officers and RCMP members in town and I know they will use it in a positive manner and will allow teaching if necessary,” stated Poole.

Councillor Dean Wigmore stated the bylaw does give law enforcement discretion.

A draft was first brought to council on Feb. 10th, but additions were made regarding the definition of weapons and the separation between the terms firearms and weapons.

Public input will be sought regarding the proposed bylaw before second and third readings are reached.