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Liberal government announces anti-gun Bill C-21

Just as we told you last week, the Liberal-led federal government has introduced new anti-firearms legislation in the House of Commons. The new Bill C-21(read it here) has some details regarding the government’s planned firearms seizure, but there are also several other significant changes and updates to laws surrounding firearms in Canada.

The “buyback”

Public Safety minister Bill Blair and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not announce final details of the government’s planned firearms seizure. Presumably, private partner IBM Canada is still working on that plan. However, Blair did say the government plans to make it impossible for shooters to use firearms banned by last May’s Order in Council. They will not have some sort of “grandfather” status, allowing trips to the range. They will not be allowed to transfer through inheritance. They cannot be sold to other firearms owners. With this in mind, Blair thinks owners will be forced to simply sell their now-banned firearms to the government. He expects this will be between 150,000 and 200,000 firearms, and figured at an average cost of $1,300 apiece, the feds will spend between $300 million and $400 million on this project.

Although it’s not directly related to last year’s Order in Council bans, Bill C-21 also sets up the potential for a change in the whole firearms classification system. The bill proposes the government “Review firearms classification, including whether to prohibit assault-style firearms by definition in the Criminal Code instead of by make and model in regulations, to be initiated by the Minister of Justice.” As well, Bill C-21 suggests the feds “Modernize language in the regulations and the Criminal Code with respect to prohibited weapons, prohibited devices and prohibited ammunition to close gaps in law.” In other words, if this passes, expect even further complications surrounding semi-auto rifles and shotguns, and probably other firearms, in the near future.

Municipal handgun bans

Over the past few years, there’s been talk of the Liberals considering an OK on municipal handgun bans. Here’s what Bill C-21 suggests is coming:

Support municipalities that wish to restrict handguns
  • The federal government would create conditions on an individual’s federal firearms licence to restrict handgun storage and transport in those municipalities that pass bylaws to these effects.
  • Any municipality has the option to pass bylaws related to handgun storage and transport in their jurisdiction, such as prohibiting storage at home or prohibiting storage anywhere within municipal boundaries, and limiting transport to or from the municipality, if allowed by their province/territory.
  • Breach of the federal firearms licence condition would carry a maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment, as well as possible revocation of a firearms licence or a registration certificate. 

Basically, the suggestion is that the federal government cooperate with cities that want to ban handguns, by modifying the terms of their RPAL. Judging by the wordage, the feds expect this will be difficult to work out with some provinces.

Other updates

There’s plenty of other stuff to see in this bill. There’s a suggest to add more rules about modifying magazines, to expand capacity. There’s a suggested ban on “mid-velocity ‘replica’ firearms,” which probably means airsoft guns. The feds want to “Limit the glorification of violence in firearms marketing and sales.” There’s some talk about strengthening border security, some money for anti-gang measures, and some somewhat puzzling talk about establishing Bank of Canada staff and Nuclear Security Officers as peace officers. Read the whole bill here, and you’ll wonder why that stuff got lumped in with the rest of this politicking.

And, perhaps most worryingly, there are “Yellow flag” and “Red flag” laws that are intended to fight real-life problems, but offer great potential for misuse by well-meaning or even ill-meaning individuals.

Going forward

What’s next?

Canadian firearms rights organizations are still fighting the OIC bans, and of course, IBM is still working on finalizing the gun grab plan. At this point, the Liberals have laid out their plan, and gun owners know what’s coming.

However, even the best-laid plans are still subject to the Parliamentary grind. See Calibre’s response to Bill C-21 below. and keep an eye on our Facebook page for ongoing thoughts.

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