This week’s report is about Bill C-21: “An Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms)”.
For those with little interest in Canada’s firearm laws this report may not be of concern.
For others it has become a bill of significant interest.
For some background, in May of last year Prime Minister Trudeau announced that “1,500 types of 'assault-style' firearms” were being banned and that a “buy back” plan was going to be introduced so owners of these newly restricted rifles would be able to “sell” them to the government at a yet to be determined rate.
At the time, this announcement from the Prime Minister led to some confusion as military assault rifles in Canada have long been illegal.
Further the term “assault style” has no legal definition within the Canada Firearms Act.
What is an “assault style weapon”?
The term “assault style” is a recently deployed piece of political rhetoric used to characterize eleven different types of semi-automatic rifles.
These can be ordered in up to 1,500 different variations from various manufacturers.
Why did the Prime Minister decide to ban these particular semi-automatic rifles?
In his words:
"These weapons were designed for one purpose and one purpose only: to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time," Trudeau said. "There is no use and no place for such weapons in Canada."
Bill C-21 is the legislation that further addresses these “assault style” rifles and proposes other firearms related measures as well.
What is most surprising about this bill is, contrary to commonly expressed opinion, it does not actually remove “assault style” weapons from within Canada.
Legal owners of these weapons can continue to own them however with new restrictions that include a ban on permitted use (none), no import, no further acquisition, no sale and no bequeathal.
Critics have questioned why, if the PM believes that there is “no place for such weapons in Canada.", is Bill C-21 proposing to allow these weapons to remain in Canada?
Another measure proposed in Bill C-21 is a measure that will allow municipalities to prohibit legal hand guns from being stored or transported anywhere within a municipality if a by-law to that effect is passed.
Critics of this by-law, including one local Mayor, have pointed out this is a form of downloading federal responsibilities onto municipalities.
From my own perspective, considering guns are illegally smuggled across the Canada/United States border, it is unclear why PM Trudeau believes that criminals with illegal firearms would view a municipal border any differently.
As far as illegal gun smuggling, Bill C-21 is largely silent as most of the measures are proposed against legal gun owners with one exception.
Bill C-21 proposed to extend the maximum term of imprisonment from 10 years to 14 years for those convicted of illegally smuggling guns into Canada.
My concern with this measure is that gun smuggling charges often occur well after the fact.
The need to be proactive and stop illegal guns from entering Canada should be a priority, not once again targeting legal gun owners.
While there are other measures in this bill, most building on already existing laws and regulations, this is a summary of the areas I have heard the majority of concern around.
My question this week:
Do you believe Bill C-21 will help stop illegal gun crime in Canada?
I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.