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 Liberal government), it was in Bill C-21.
Fast forward to the current Parliament, once again the government has introduced what it calls “An Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms)” anti is also called Bill C-21.
First, let's recap what the previous Bill C-21 proposed.
The bill reflected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s promise that 1,500 types of “assault-style” firearms were being banned and 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 the time, the 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” has 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 are often 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 the former Bill C-21 was tabled.
It has now been more than two years and the critics were proven correct, as none of these semi-automatic rifles have been removed from the streets and the government has still not implemented a buy-back program or determined how such a program would work.
This week, Trudeau announced another Bill C-21. This time, most notably, proposing to “freeze” handgun sales. Perhaps sensitive to the criticism his former Bill C-21 targeted legal gun owners and not criminals using smuggled guns, Trudeau has been steadfast in pointing out the new Bill C-21 does not target legal handgun owners. In other words, he is suggesting nothing changes for all existing legal handgun owners in Canada.
The proposed new law would only apply to potential new handgun owners or those looking to purchase an additional handgun. Critics again point out the new proposed law does not take any handguns off the streets and once again ignores the real gun problem, which is criminals using smuggled, illegal handguns.
As I pointed out in a column last month, with Bill C-5, the government is also proposing to eliminate some minimum mandatory sentences for several crimes that involve firearms. From my perspective, the evidence shows illegal handgun crime has risen in Canada under the current government. The overwhelming majority of the handguns involved in these crimes are illegally smuggled across the Canada-U.S. border.
I believe the priority must be targeted enforcement to stop illegal guns from entering Canada. Neither the former nor the 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 [email protected] or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.