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Good morning. It’s James Keller in Calgary.

The strongest opposition to the federal government’s push to ban or restrict certain kinds of firearms has come from the Prairies, where premiers in Alberta and Saskatchewan have promised to fight policies that they argue unfairly target legal gun owners.

Two years ago, Alberta and Saskatchewan took over the appointment of their chief firearms officers after Ottawa moved to ban 1,500 firearms that it considers assault weapons. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney recently argued that the federal government’s handgun ban infringes on gun owners’ property rights, and he promised that the province would fight against both policies.

This week, Mr. Kenney’s Justice Minister, Tyler Shandro, said Alberta would not provide resources to enforce the assault weapon ban or facilitate the federal government’s buyback program.

Mr. Shandro announced that he had written to the RCMP’s commander in Alberta, Deputy Commissioner Curtis Zablocki, to make it clear that the force – which is under contract to be Alberta’s provincial police – should refuse to help Ottawa enforce the buyback program. Confiscating prohibited weapons, the Justice Minister wrote, is “not an objective, priority or goal” for the province.

Mr. Shandro explained that the direction to the RCMP was prompted by a letter from federal Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino, who had asked provinces to provide resources to enforce the ban and buyback program. Mr. Shandro also wrote to Mr. Mendicino with a letter that described the buyback program as offensive to responsible gun owners.

The province also plans to join several legal challenges of the federal firearms policies.

It’s impossible to separate the firearms announcement from the continuing United Conservative Party leadership race, which will culminate in a chosen successor for Mr. Kenney next week. Much of the race has focused on promises to make Alberta more independent from Ottawa, including on the issue of firearms laws.

In other words: This week’s news from the current provincial government may foreshadow what to expect from the next one.

Frontrunner Danielle Smith was quick to point out that Mr. Shandro’s announcement appears to align with her proposed sovereignty act, which purports to give Alberta the authority to disregard federal laws it feels are unconstitutional or infringe on the province’s jurisdiction. In fact, she has cited the firearms ban as an example of the federal laws she wants to target with her proposed act.

Some of Ms. Smith’s opponents in the UCP race, constitutional experts and even Mr. Kenney have condemned the idea of a sovereignty act as illegal and against the rule of law.

But even UCP candidates who have criticized the sovereignty act have made their own promises to wrestle more control from Ottawa, or have tweaked the language to talk instead about autonomy.

Brian Jean, who like Ms. Smith is a former leader of the Wildrose Party, has also objected to the federal firearms policies, promising to fight them in court. He said the province should protect guns as personal property and get the issue in front of the Supreme Court of Canada.

Travis Toews, a former finance minister under Mr. Kenney, took credit for Alberta’s decision to appoint its own chief firearms officer and said, if elected, he would partner with other provinces to fight Ottawa’s gun bans. He took to Twitter to endorse Mr. Shandro’s announcement.

And several candidates have pointed to the firearms issue as a reason why Alberta needs its own provincial police force rather than using the RCMP.

The next UCP leader will be announced on Oct. 6 at an event in Calgary, and is expected to be sworn as the province’s next premier soon after.

This is the weekly Western Canada newsletter written by B.C. Editor Wendy Cox and Alberta Bureau Chief James Keller. If you’re reading this on the web, or it was forwarded to you from someone else, you can sign up for it and all Globe newsletters here.