By Dan Gauthier - Tuesday May 23, 2006
Not surprisingly, Dryden gunsmith Bruce Montague fully supports the
Conservative government's changes to the federal firearms registry, but
he is still uncertain how it will affect his pending charges for
violating the Firearms Act.
Montague said Friday he does not yet know if the changes announced to
the registry last week -- which include introducing a one-year amnesty
for unlicensed owners of non-restricted firearms -- will have any effect
on his case.
"I'm not exactly sure how the law works in that area," said Montague.
Montague's lawyer Calvin Martin, from Toronto, said he too is unsure
what these changes will mean and has since e-mailed the firearms centre
in Ottawa to clarify what this may or not mean for his client.
The issue, said Martin, is whether the amnesty will apply to those who
have never had a firearms licence, or if it will apply only to those who
have let their possession licence lapse or expire.
If the amnesty does apply to Montague, Martin said it would affect a
"big chunk" of his charges, in particular any offences dealing with
"But I don't know if they are going to do that," said Martin.
Montague is facing 53 criminal charges for a variety of weapons-related
offences including the unauthorized possession and careless storage of
non-restricted firearms, explosives and some restricted firearms. He was
arrested by the Ontario Provincial Police on Sept. 11, 2004 at a Dryden
His wife Donna is facing three charges: the unauthorized possession of a
firearm and two counts of careless storage of a firearm.
Montague claims these charges, laid under the federal Firearms Act, are
unconstitutional and filed a constitutional challenge with Ontario
Superior Court on April 30. He has vowed to take his fight all the way
to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Regardless of what effects these recent changes to the firearms registry
have on his case, Montague sees it as a positive sign from the new
federal government for his plight.
"It shows that our government is siding with me, at least as far as the
gun registry is concerned," said Montague. "So that's a step in the
Montague said it will be interesting to see if the Conservatives follow
through with their election promise to repeal the firearms registry
altogether. However, he said he is almost hoping they don't, at least
until his constitutional challenge of the Firearms Act is heard.
He explained that his challenge seeks to have the courts likely the
Supreme Court of Canada "strike" the law from the books for good.
"That will prevent any further governments from trying the same thing,"
He predicted if any of the other politically parties gain power in the
next federal election, there is a "very strong possibility" the firearm
registry would be re-introduced.
Montague said, at the very least, these changes will give his case some
needed publicity and he hopes the public realizes just why he opposes
the Firearms Act.
He said the ease in which the federal government can change possessing
unregistered firearms a criminal act to not being a criminal act with
a mere "stroke of a pen" should shed some light on what he feels is an
unjust law for Canadians.
"I'm not actually getting off of any criminal activity in the way people
would think of a criminal activity," said Montague, noting that no one
was hurt and there were no victims in his 'crime'.
"They're all paperwork charges."
In any event, Montague's lawyer said a trial will be going forward on
all, or some, of his charges. In particular, the charges for possessing
restricted firearms and explosives will go to court.
A final pretrial hearing for Montague's case is set for June in a
Thunder Bay court. A trial by jury has been tentatively scheduled to
begin Sept. 25 in Kenora Superior Court.
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