BY BILL PHILLIPS
Northern MPs aren’t outright dismissing Ottawa’s proposed new gun legislation, but they’re not exactly enamoured with it either.
“The devil is in the details,” said Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen, adding Canadians will really know what the new regulations mean when the Liberals table the actual legislation to enact the new rules.
The new legislation proposes to eliminate the existing provision that focuses background checks primarily on just the five years immediately preceding a licence application and will require specific transportation authorizations to be obtained whenever restricted or prohibited guns are moved through the community, except between a residence and an approved shooting range.
“As I have said before, I support the idea of more vigorous background checks,” said Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies MP Bob Zimmer. “However, the legislation introduced this week does little to make our communities safer. Keeping firearms out of the hands of violent criminals should be the number one priority in any new firearms legislation. This bill falls well short of that and instead is treating law-abiding firearms owners like criminals by creating needless red tape.”
The new regulations include provisions that whenever a non-restricted firearm is transferred, the buyer must produce his/her firearms licence, and the vendor must verify that it is valid. In addition, commercial retailers must maintain adequate records of their inventories and sales. These records would be accessible to police officers on reasonable grounds and with judicial authorization, as appropriate.
“This legislation is not only a backdoor attempt at a wasteful and ineffective long-gun registry, it also re-establishes a front door registry by handing data that was supposed to be destroyed over to the Quebec government,” said Zimmer.
Justice Minister Ralph Goodale stressed during the announcement that this was not a ‘backdoor’ registry and Cullen said he doesn’t believe the Liberals’ would make another attempt at a registry.
“A lot of these stores keep these records anyway,” said Cullen. “They do this in the United States and have for 40 years, that should give you a sense of it being a relatively common thing.”
However, he added, the opposition is always keeping its eyes open for government trying to create another registry.
“I would be very surprised that government wants to have that fight again,” Cullen said. “But politics being what it, it wouldn’t be the first stupid thing that happens.”
The new legislation also reaffirms the Liberals’ commitment to leave gun classification with the RCMP. The Conservative Party has pledged, should it form government, to remove the classification from the RCMP and turn it over to an ombudsperson. Cullen said that doesn’t seem to be much of an issue.
“I listened to (the Conservative) critics and they weren’t raising that as a major problem, for some gun owners it is,” he said. “For me I just want a consistent, impartial, non-political way of figuring out which guns are restricted. I think the RCMP are well-positioned to do that.”