BY BOB ZIMMER
Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies MLA
During the last week before the House of Commons rose for the summer, I had the opportunity to speak out against Bill C-71, the new Liberal firearms legislation.
As you may know, shortly after this bill was introduced back in March, I held roundtables in both Prince George and Fort St. John to hear from residents about how they felt about Canada’s firearms laws. During those meetings many expressed concerns about how this new bill would affect law-abiding firearms owners.
It was those residents, and the thousands of Canadians who have contacted my office with similar concerns, that I had in mind when I spoke in the House of Commons.
As I have said before, I support legislation that will keep guns out of the hands of violent criminals. However, Bill C-71 does very little to make our communities safer. Instead, this bill targets law-abiding firearms owners by adding more red tape to lawful firearms ownership and to people buying non-restricted firearms in Canada. Most concerning to me is the fact that this legislation will also mean the return of the long-gun registry, despite promises and denials by the Liberal government.
I think it’s important when speaking about this legislation to quote its actual text, which says: The Commissioner of Firearms shall…provide the Quebec Minister with a copy of all records that were in the Canadian Firearms Registry on April 3, 2015 and that relate to firearms registered, as at that day, as non-restricted firearms, if the Quebec Minister provides the Commissioner with a written request to that effect before the end of the 120th day after the day on which the Commissioner sends written notice under subsection (2).
This establishes a front door registry because it allows for a copy of the long-gun registry, which was supposed to be destroyed, to be passed to the Province of Quebec. The only reason this information still exists is to fulfill an individual Canadian’s access to information request, not so that the Firearms Commissioner can hand it over to a provincial government.
In my speech I also touched on the fact that Bill C-71 will establish a backdoor registry by requiring individuals or businesses who transfer non-restricted firearms (i.e. a long-gun) to call the registrar for a registration number. The business owner will then have to keep a record of that transfer for 20 years and include details like the reference number issued by the registrar, the day the reference number was issued, the transferee’s licence number, and the firearm’s make, model, type and serial number if it has one. A registrar keeps registries and these requirements for non-restricted firearms sales and transfers are clearly an attempt to re-establish the long-gun registry.
I’ve heard from many law-abiding firearms owners from across the country since this legislation was introduced and they all share similar concerns. First, that the Liberals promised to not re-establish a long-gun registry, and then went back on that promise and second, that so little time has been given to debate or speak out against this bill.
Whether it’s limiting debate in the House of Commons, limiting the number of committee meetings to hear from witnesses, or refusing to travel to hear the concerns of Canadians, it is clear that the Liberal government does not want to hear from the outdoor community.
As a firearms owner myself, I will continue to stay focused on actions that keep Canadians safe and ensure that it is criminals who are punished, not firearms owners who follow the law.