James and Sharon Lawrence look at firearms at Ferguson’s Sport Shop in Westville. NSCC will no longer provide firearm safety training courses as of March 31 and the Department of Justice is working on finding a new course provider. AMY MACKENZIE – THE NEWS
STELLARTON – Those in Pictou County looking to take a firearms safety training course will no longer be able to do so at NSCC Pictou Campus as of March 31.
Nova Scotia Community College has offered the Canada Non-Restricted Firearms Safety and Canadian Restricted Firearms Safety courses in partnership with the Department of Justice for several years, but the college has announced it will stop offering firearm courses at its campuses by the end of March.
NSCC’s dean of flexible learning solutions, Ken Jones, said while the college views the firearms safety training courses as important, it doesn’t correlate with its mission as an educational institution.
“When I took over part-time studies last winter, we looked at the resources we had at our disposal. I made the strategic decision and recommended it to the executive that we discontinue with firearms and the reason for it is we have limited resources and we have to mobilize resources that speak to and support the core mission and mandate of the college, which is to provide the advanced skills and training for Nova Scotians,” Jones said in an interview.
“It’s not that the firearms course wasn’t important, or that there wasn’t a wonderful connection in our community, but there are other vendors who can provide the firearms training and it gave us the opportunity to mobilize resources that are more central to our mission and mandate.”
Justice Minister Ross Landry told The News the Department of Justice is working on finding another provider of firearm safety courses. He said he is hopeful the department will be able to find a new person or organization to provide the course by the time NSCC stops offering it.
“We’re very confident that we’ll be able to get all things lined up by the stop date or thereabout,” he said. “Our team is working on that, although, time is tight. The 31st of March is coming upon us. But I’m very confident.”
Landry said the department is looking at NSCC dropping the courses as an economic opportunity for both the college and the new provider.
“The good thing here is the Nova Scotia Community College, they’re looking at their course services and trying to focus on making sure they’re efficient and effective and we respect and value that,” he said. “This way, money will go into putting money in the pockets of people who provide that service which, of course, is spent in turn in the communities where they’re at. So that’s a good thing in itself. So, we see this as an opportunity.”
Landry said the department is also looking at having the new provider of firearms safety training courses offer hunter education courses as well.
Currently, hunter education courses in the province are co-ordinated by the Nova Scotia Federation of Anglers and Hunters and taught by volunteer instructors who are affiliated with non-profit groups, according to the federation’s website. The website also states that volunteer instructors schedule courses at various locations throughout the province based on student applications given to them by the federation.