Mike met with the Bancroft Fish and Game Club in April to get their feedback on the firearms bill, which he will send to the Public Safety ministry. Mike is meeting with clubs, retailers, and other constituents to get their feedback on the bill.
The firearms bill, C-71, is an important bill that has to strike the right balance for Canadians. I myself am a hunter and firearms owner, so I know how careful and conscientious legal firearms owners are. They recognize the importance of ensuring that legal firearms are not used for illegal purposes.
Our government has been consulting with firearms experts and law enforcement from the beginning. As a result, we are investing $327.6 million over five years, and $100 million annually thereafter, in new funding for initiatives to reduce gun crime and criminal gang activities, and the expansion of border control to stop the flow of illegal firearms across the border. It is important to point out that while it used to be true that most firearms used in crime were ones that were smuggled across the border, nowadays police across Canada are reporting that more than half of firearms used in crimes are domestically sourced.
Our government is proposing practical and targeted steps that will make communities safer from illegal firearms. Here is what the bill will do:
- Enhance background checks on those seeking to acquire firearms – looking at the full life history of a person, including any untreated mental illness associated with violence, not just over the last five years. I personally asked department officials how this would work for young guys (for example) who might have gotten themselves into fights as kids, but who have matured and turned their lives around. Not only would acts committed as a youth be protected under the way the youth justice system works, but the check is a “consideration” by the authorities of the person’s background and is looking for patterns and series of behaviour. It’s not a hard and fast red flag that would automatically reject an application. I’ve also discussed veterans suffering from PTSD who have undergone treatment and recovered, who would not be excluded from holding a firearms license. I know that no responsible firearms owner wants to see a firearm in the hands of a violent person or someone suffering from an untreated mental illness.
- Standardize record-keeping of sales by firearms retailers, already a common “best-practice” in the industry since first legislated in 1892. As is common practice, the records will have to be kept for 20 years. This info would be accessible to police (not governments) on reasonable grounds and with a warrant. There will be NO new gun registry. Firearms retailers already keep these records, and it won’t be government accessing them, but police for specific cases that have a warrant when a firearm has been used in an illegal act. Only businesses will hold these records, not the government.
- Require that whenever a non-restricted firearm is transferred, the buyer must produce his/her license, and the vendor must verify that it is valid. As a firearm owner myself, I would always want to know that the person I am selling a firearm to has a valid license. Currently, within section 23.2 of the Code this is a voluntary thing to do. To be clear, no info on the firearm will be requested, and no records of the firearm kept. The individual only validates the license either online or over the phone, which is built on the same platform now used by retailers for verification.
- Ensure the impartial and consistent classification of firearms by restoring a system in which Parliament defines the classes and then experts in the RCMP make the technical determination about the class into which a particular firearm falls. The RCMP does not decide on the classification arbitrarily, but bases it on the descriptions of classification in the Criminal Code, which is legislated by elected parliamentarians.
- Except between a residence and an approved shooting range, require specific transportation authorizations be obtained whenever restricted and prohibited firearms are moved through the community. The vast majority of transportation is between home and the shooting range (over 90%). The authorization to transport (ATT) can be done online or on the phone. This enables police to be better able to challenge people unlawfully transporting a firearm, such as if they are not taking a reasonable route from point A to point B. ATTs are NOT required for non-restricted firearms.
As always, I am happy to hear from you about any unintended consequences that these changes might have, or constructive amendments that could be made.