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The Chief Firearms Officer is interpreting “needs” in the Firearms Regulation two different ways for their own uses. The same word “needs” is used in the identical passage, except for what the bearer’s circumstances are.

For those applying under 3(a) – guards for money – the word needs is taken by the CFO as being ~ a pistol is needed as part of the job.

For those applying under 3(b) – wilderness protection – the word needs is taken by the CFO as being ~ a pistol is wanted as part of the wilderness experience.

Here is the regulation:

  1. For the purpose of section 20 of the Firearms Act, the circumstances in which an individual needs restricted firearms or prohibited handguns for use in connection with his or her lawful profession or occupation are where

    (a) the individual’s principal activity is the handling, transportation or protection of cash, negotiable instruments or other goods of substantial value, and firearms are required for the purpose of protecting his or her life or the lives of other individuals in the course of that handling, transportation or protection activity;

    (b) the individual is working in a remote wilderness area and firearms are required for the protection of the life of that individual or of other individuals from wild animals;

So sorting out whether needs is used as a verb or noun helps make a determination whether using the word needs can actually be used two ways in the same regulation to apply to the subset below in a or b at random. I think that needs here is used as an attribute in this context, a noun, and not flexible.

The reason it is worth the headache to understand this is because people that apply as – guards – in (a) are always approved, whereas those applying under – wildlife - in (b), are regularly not approved because needs is taken to not be a attribute of the situation, but rather a want or casual askance as in a verb.

I need to get it straight in my head, and notice I do not write - I needs to get this straight in my head. It is about tribunal fairness.

Needs as a noun – [countable] [usually plural] something that you need in order to be healthy, comfortable, successful etc

Needs as a verb - The needs washed construction consists of a form of the verb need (or want or like) followed by a passive participle. For example, in sentence (1), needs repaired is an example of this construction; it has needs as its form of need followed by repaired as its passive participle: 1) The car needs repaired. In standard English, (1) would not be acceptable. Instead, repaired would either need to become an infinitive (a verb form with to), as in (2a), or a gerund (a verbal noun ending in -ing), as in (2b):

It seems “needs” used as a verb is usually not in the plural. But in the Regulations it is definitely a plural, as is usually the case when “needs” is a noun.

I have been looking all over the web and keep coming back to noun? Once I am satisfied needs is a noun I can feel out the rest of the wording to see whether the CFO is actually applying the word “needs” for different meanings to get the results the CFO desire.

I’m thinking it is wrong to take that leap if in the context “needs” is a noun.

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    When you write "It seems 'needs' used as a verb is usually not in the plural. " you are completely misunderstanding the third person singular, thinking it is a plural because it ends with s. Lee needs an answer. There it is singular in agreement with its singular subject, "Lee". They need an answer. There it is plural. Dec 3 '18 at 23:33
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The word needs is used only once in the section of the regulation you quoted, and it is used as a verb.

The two subsections use the phrase "are required".

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"Needs" is a verb.

"restricted" and "prohibited" are adjectives. They modify the nouns "firearms" and "handguns".

The regulation is clear enough (though I'm not a lawyer):

There are two circumstances in which a person may need a gun. Firstly, some security guards need a gun. Secondly, some people may need a gun to protect them from wild animals. It is the duty of the CFO to decide if a person's individual circumstances result in them needing a gun to do their job.

But it is up to the CFO to decide if the person needs a gun. It does not say that every person handling money needs a gun. Nor does it say that every person who works in a remote area needs a gun. It is up to the CFO to decide if a gun is required. If in his or her judgement it is required, then (and only then) can he or she approve the application.

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In the phrase:

the circumstances in which an individual needs restricted firearms or prohibited handguns for use in connection with his or her lawful profession or occupation

the word "needs" is clearly a verb — specifically, the third person singular present tense form of the verb "to need".

It has the subject "an individual" and the object "restricted firearms or prohibited handguns", and is further qualified by the subsequent phrase "for use in connection with his or her lawful profession or occupation" that describes the purpose for which the individual needs the weapon.

(Also, I would guess that the "for use in [...]" phrase is almost certainly copied verbatim from the section of the Firearms Act that the regulation refers to, as the purpose of this regulation would seem to be to specify exactly what this phrase in the Firearms Act should be taken to mean.)

More broadly, let's look at the whole paragraph as you quoted it:

For the purpose of section 20 of the Firearms Act, the circumstances in which an individual needs restricted firearms or prohibited handguns for use in connection with his or her lawful profession or occupation are where [bulleted list of circumstances omitted].

The initial phrase "For the purpose of section 20 of the Firearms Act" simply qualifies the entire paragraph, and does not affect the grammatical structure of the rest of the paragraph in any way.

The rest of the paragraph is built using the construction:

the circumstances in which <something happens> are where [...]

Here, <something happens> is a subclause describing a particular state or an action, and the rest of the sentence (after "where") then describes the set of circumstances in which that state or action occurs. Another example of a similar construction would be e.g.:

The places where John spends most of his time are his home and his office.

which, except for emphasis and style, has essentially the same meaning as:

John spends most of his time at his home and at his office.


As for the two circumstances (a) and (b) described in the regulation, their wording is clearly parallel; both have the structure:

the individual [is in a certain situation], and firearms are required for [some specific purpose]

On the face of it, this structure does not in any way imply that all people in the described situation would require firearms for the described purpose (nor, vice versa, that everyone who might require firearms for this purpose must be working in this situation).

It merely says that the only circumstances where someone is considered to need restricted firearms (for the purposes of this regulation) are those where both requirements apply: the person must be in one of the two described situations (i.e. as a guard or in remote wilderness) and they must require a firearm for the specific purpose that matches their situation.

Thus, under a plain reading of this regulation (and keeping mind that I am not a lawyer), it seems entirely possible for a security guard to be denied permission for restricted firearms, if it is determined that they do not require one "for the purpose of protecting his or her life or the lives of other individuals in the course of [their job]".

Of course, in practice it's quite possible that the authorities in charge of issuing these permissions may simply assume that all security guards handling money or valuable goods do need firearms, while not all people working in remote wilderness do. But the wording of the regulation that you quoted, as interpreted according to plain English grammar, does not in any way require them to make that assumption.

As for whether these two groups of applicants are being treated unequally, and whether anything might be done about that, that question is clearly off-topic for this site. A sufficiently determined lawyer might be willing to argue e.g. that the similar and parallel wording of the two bulleted points could be construed as evidence of legislative intent that the two groups described in them should bear a similar burden of proof regarding their need for a firearm, and to take the authorities to court over that. Whether they'd succeed in convincing a judge to accept that argument is, of course, another matter entirely. (After all, the authorities could simply respond that they are treating the two groups equally, and that those in group (a) just happen to more consistently demonstrate a convincing need for a firearm.) In any case, the only real advice I or anyone else here can give on this matter is to ask a lawyer.

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  • So, getting past the lawyer and firearm stuff to just examine the use of the word "needs".... Dec 2 '18 at 20:13
  • I don't know what happed to the rest of my comment. Dec 2 '18 at 20:22
  • Try it again. Is the sentence ... the individual carries a hat to protect that individual from the sun where... Is it the same as ... the individual needs a hat to protect that individual from the sun where....I'm trying to find the same kind of words, but they must be in the plural for the same effect. Dec 2 '18 at 20:28

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