Published as a letter in The Edmonton [Alberta] Journal
Here's the kind of insanity that's just too crazy to be made up. (Read this to the end, you won't believe it.)
For almost three years I've been dealing with the federal firearms registry to try to get them to issue a registration certificate for the one "prohibited" firearm I own, a .32 calibre handgun.
The apparent problem was that there was some legal confusion over whether or not I could keep the firearm in question, based on the date I first acquired it. That date problem was resolved with the passing of Bill C-10-A in May of 2003. Among other things, the bill specified an acquisition deadline requirement that I clearly complied with.
As a result, the government became obligated to provide the registration certificate immediately. But they didn't.
After running out of patience, I called the firearms registration centre several times in the last two months. During that time, I've heard innumerable excuses:
- Until Bill C-10-A becomes law, you can't own that firearm;
- Bill C-10-A is law, but we're waiting for instruction from the minister;
- Bill C-10-A isn't law;
- Bill C-10-A is law;
Then on Thursday morning I was told that I never applied to have the firearm registered under the new registry system, so the gun is subject to confiscation and I could be found guilty of a criminal offence. So I faxed them a copy of the receipt proving I registered the firearm via their website nearly three years ago, well in advance of the deadline.
I called the Canadian Firearms Centre again on Thursday morning, and this time I finally managed to reach someone who could explain what was going on. She told me that the firearm was registered, but that the registration had expired because the owner had died.
Someone with my name, residing at my address in the city of Edmonton, died -- get this -- in May of 2007. The person informing me of that date did so in a very matter-of-fact way, as if nothing could possibly be wrong.
"You're based in New Brunswick, right?" I asked.
"Yes," said the voice on the phone.
"What year is it there?" I inquired.
I spent the next several minutes relating the entire chain of events to the person on the end of the phone. I concluded with the observation that clearly there was no way I was ever going to get the firearm's registration certificate now that I'm dead so I would simply stop trying to register the firearm that I've owned for the last seven years.
Twenty minutes later, I got a call from an information officer at the firearms centre, assuring me that the registration certificate will be issued within 10 days.
We'll see if it actually happens. After all, when he said "10 days," I forgot to ask "in what year?"