Sometimes Parliament resembles the movie “Groundhog Day”.
When I last wrote about proposed amendments to Canada’s firearm laws (introduced in the previous Parliament by the Liberals) it was in Bill C-21.
Fast forward to the current Parliament, once again the Liberals Government have introduced “An Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms)” under another Bill C-21.
First, let's recap what the previous Bill C-21 proposed.
The former bill reflected PM Trudeau’s promise 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 amount.
As I wrote at that time, this announcement from the Prime Minister led to some confusion as military assault rifles in Canada have long been illegal in Canada.
Further the term “assault style” had no legal definition within the Canada Firearms Act.
What is an “assault style weapon”?
The term “assault style” is a political term used to characterize certain semi-automatic rifles that often are manufactured to look like an assault rifle.
Critics were quick to point out that the former Bill C-21 penalized legal gun owners for owing certain semi-automatic rifles based solely on their appearance and it did not remove any of these rifles from the streets.
Now let's review what's occurred since former Bill C-21 was tabled.
It has now been over two years and the critics have been proven correct as none of these semi-automatic rifles have been removed from streets and the Liberal Government has still not implemented a buyback program or determined how such a program would work.
This week, Prime Minister Trudeau announced another Bill C-21.
This time most notably proposing to “freeze” handgun sales.
Perhaps sensitive to the criticism that his former Bill C-21 targeted legal gun owners and not criminals using smuggled guns, Prime Minister Trudeau has been steadfast to point out that this new Bill C-21 does not target legal handgun owners.
In other words, he is suggesting that nothing changes for all existing legal handgun owners here in Canada.
The proposed new law would only apply to potential new handgun owners or those looking to purchase an additional handgun.
Critics are again pointing out that this new proposed law does not take any handguns off the streets and once again ignores the real gun problem that is criminals using smuggled, illegal handguns.
As I pointed out in my recent report from early May, in Bill C-5, the Trudeau Liberal Government is also proposing to eliminate some minimum mandatory sentences for several crimes that involve firearms.
From my own perspective the evidence shows that illegal handgun crime has risen in Canada under the Trudeau Liberal Government.
The overwhelming majority of the handguns involved in these crimes are illegally smuggled across the Canada/United States border.
I believe the priority must be targeted enforcement to stop illegal guns from entering Canada.
Neither the former nor current Bill C-21 propose major comprehensive action on that front, although they do generate significant media headlines.
My question this week:
Do you believe this new Bill C-21 will make your community safer?
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.