July 23rd, 2024

Ignorant gun owners getting caught at the border with undeclared weapons

By Tim Kalinowski on August 10, 2017.

The Canadian Border Services Agency is reporting more undeclared guns have been seized at the southern Alberta border this year than is typical for this time period. Pictured: Eleven guns seized from one U.S. gun owner at the Coutts border crossing about a month ago.--PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY CBSA


The Canadian Border Services Agency is confirming Alberta has seen a spike in guns seized by agents at its southerly ports this year, but this is mainly due to general ignorance of Canadian gun laws rather than malicious intent.

In a statement released to the News Wednesday, the CBSA states that as of Aug. 7 there have been 46 undeclared firearms seized at southern ports, including 27 handguns. In 2016, the total number seized over the same period was 33. In 2015, it was 32.

“Travellers who failed to declare their firearms faced serious consequences,” the CBSA statement reads. “On July 3, a Minnesota man paid a $4,000 penalty after our officers found four undeclared handguns in his luggage. Other travellers were not allowed into Canada for committing an offence upon entry. Others were criminally charged by the CBSA.”

This spike in Alberta is in line with reports at other border stations across Canada this year. Carrying weapons for self-defence is much more common in the United States, and is constitutionally protected under U.S. law. Most self-defence weapons are prohibited in Canada without special permit; with many being outright banned. However, some U.S. travellers are hesitant to give up such weapons at the border, and choose to test Canadian border inspectors instead.

“It is not inherently illegal to bring guns into Canada,” confirms the CBSA. “However, importing firearms is strictly controlled and some types are prohibited entry. Without exemption, all firearms must be reported to the CBSA at the first opportunity upon entry to Canada.”

Drilling down deeper into the seizure numbers reported by the CBSA, they are not out of line with those of the past few years. While 46 firearms have been seized, (much higher than the average), this was the result of only 22 incidents. By comparison, there were 25 incidents in 2016 and 20 in 2015 over the same time period.

According to the CBSA, about a month ago 11 undeclared guns were seized from one U.S. gun owner at the Coutts border crossing, inflating the numbers.

Those having weapons seized this year also fit the usual profile: All were U.S. residents, some of whom were coming to Canada for daytrips or events. More than a third however, were seized from individuals attempting to make the transit through Canada to Alaska.

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