Keep Them Safe

With hunting season right around the corner, and some recent events that were on the news regarding firearm storage in the flooded town of High River, Alberta, I thought an appropriate topic would be safe fire arm storage. It was interesting to me that there was so much criticism of the RCMC in High River for securing firearms that were stored unsafely; the RMCP’s role is to keep the public safe and firearms that are stored unsafely, particularly in an evacuated area, pose a risk to the public. I think that the RCMP was unfairly criticized in that situation. Moving my political views aside, this article will discuss what is required to store your firearms safely.

Of course firearms go hand in hand with hunting and hunting is a huge part of the East Kootenay culture. However, I have seen far too many individuals who unwittingly end up in the court system because they have not stored their firearms safely. Storing your firearms unsafely is a serious matter, particularly if someone is injured or killed as a result, and can result in a criminal conviction. Some may think these rules are all overkill, but the overriding objective of the rules is to keep the public safe and prevent firearm accidents.

I would note that the rules about firearm storage that I discuss below are those that apply to individuals; different rules apply to businesses. If you run a business that uses firearms in any way, you need to educate yourself about the firearm storage laws that apply.

In order for your firearms to be stored safely, they must be unloaded and either locked up or incapable of being fired. The ammunition must be stored separately or locked up (it can be stored in the same locked container as the firearms).

For non-restricted firearms (such as hunting rifles), you must have a secure locking device, such as a trigger lock or cable lock, or remove the bolt entirely so that the firearms cannot be fired. Alternatively, you can lock the firearm in a cabinet, container or room that is difficult to break into.

For restricted and prohibited firearms (like handguns), a secure locking device must be attached AND they must be locked in a cabinet, container or room that is difficult to break into (in other words they have to be locked away and incapable of being fired). Alternatively the restricted or prohibited firearms can be locked in a vault, safe or room that was built or modified specifically to store firearms safely.

For automatic firearms, the bolts or bolt carriers (if removable) must also be removed and they must be locked in a separate room that is difficult to break into.

In terms of transporting firearms safely, non-restricted firearms must be unloaded during transportation. But, restricted firearms must be unloaded, have the locking devices secured and be locked in a sturdy, non-transparent container. The bolts for any automatic firearms must also be removed (if removable). When transporting restricted or prohibited firearms, you must also obtain an authorization to transport by calling 1-800-731-4000.

If you plan to leave any class of firearm unattended in a vehicle, you must:

• Lock non-restricted firearms and locked containers carrying restricted or prohibited firearms in the trunk or in a similar lockable compartment.
• If the vehicle does not have a trunk or lockable compartment, put firearms and firearm containers out of sight inside the vehicle and lock the vehicle.
• If you are in a remote wilderness area and cannot lock your non-restricted firearms inside your vehicle, unload them and put them out of sight. Attach a secure locking device to the firearms unless they are needed for predator control.

If you are into displaying your firearms, this must also be done safely; the same rules apply as with respect to restricted and non-restricted weapons.

Keep safety the priority when dealing with firearms and we will all be better off for it. Finally, don’t forget to renew your firearms license before it expires – not having proper licenses for firearms can also lead to difficulties with the authorities.