Kelowna firearm owners say Liberal gun-control measures miss the mark

Sights set on wrong target?

The Canadian government has its sights on a new set of gun control measures, including a national freeze on the importing, buying and/or selling handguns.

The announcement was made days after a mass shooting in Texas killed 19 students and two teachers.

But in Kelowna, Dan Shemley of Great North Precision says legal firearm owners are not the problem.

“To see something like that on the news is hard enough, but to live it, I don’t want to imagine it. I don’t wish a shooting on anybody, but we have to address the core problems. In most cases it's mental health, it’s people that have access to a firearm that shouldn’t,” said Shemley.

Executive director of the BC Wildlife Federation Jesse Zeman said some are taking the political opportunity to compare gun crime in the U.S. with Canada's situation — which isn't supported by the data.

“Ninety per cent of the crimes come from guns that have been illegally smuggled into Canada. So from our perspective, if 90 per cent of the crime is coming from south of the border, we need to make sure that those firearms do not end up in Canada,” said Zeman.

“And then we also have to catch the people who are using illegal firearms, and that is where the Canadian government should be focusing its resources.”

Zeman says negative comments from elected officials about legal firearms owners give the wrong interpretation about a mass majority of people who are upstanding citizens and who want to see guns used in the safest possible manner.

“I think it is really important for people who don’t own firearms to understand what a legal firearm owner goes through. This is a multi-month long process with a course, testing, background checks, criminal record checks, references ... It’s really important for everyone to know what goes on south of the border is completely unrelated to what goes on this side of the border,” said Zeman.

Key elements of the Liberal government's firearms-control announcement Monday:

— A national freeze on importing, buying, selling or otherwise transferring handguns, with very limited exceptions;

— Automatic removal of gun licences from people committing domestic violence or criminal harassment, such as stalking;

— Increase maximum penalties for gun smuggling and trafficking to 14 years from 10;

— Authorize disclosure of information about gun licence holders to police if reasonable grounds to believe licence is being used for straw purchasing and firearms trafficking;

— A new "red flag" law allowing courts to require that people considered a danger to themselves or others surrender their firearms to police, including measure to guard the safety of those applying through the process — often women in danger of domestic abuse — by protecting their identities;

— Require long-gun magazines to be permanently altered so they can never hold more than five rounds, as well as ban the sale and transfer of large-capacity magazines under the Criminal Code;

— Create an offence for a business that promotes or depicts violence against a person in firearms advertising.

with files from The Canadian Press

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