“My friends took me hunting two years ago, first time I had ever been out, I used a friend’s .308 and got a white tail from about 400-450 meters away – I was hooked. I have my license, I own a few firearms already – I really look forward to experiencing incredible things like this with my son now.” -Andrew Scheer
Andrew ScheerOpposition House Leader (2015-2016)Speaker of the House of Commons (2011-2015) Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons and Chairman of Committees of the Whole (2008-2011) MP Riding of Regina-Qu’Appelle (2004-Present)
Do you think Canada’s existing gun laws need to be rewritten? I think aspects of them do – I support my colleagues private members bill right now which would define certain aspects of the Firearms Act. It would take power away from the RCMP to make arbitrary, unilateral, reclassification’s. Those are aspects that need to be implemented. My sense is – the conversations I have had about the 10/22 clip, the AR-15, that a move in this direction would alleviate a lot of these types of concerns. It may sound cliche, but criminals do not follow gun laws. They are not looking to see what safe storage laws apply or whether or not they have their ATT, they are going to do what they do – sell some drugs perhaps. We need to make sure that there is a strict regime in there on our side so they do not get careless or negligent, that needs to be addressed, but we need to make sure it is balanced.
Should the RCMP continue to be the body in charge of firearms regulation in Canada? I like to think that we could have a different regime, I would be open to looking at other options – put it that way. I have not seen a specific proposal yet about how it could work, I do think that we need a very objective way to determine these decisions – while having the RCMP perhaps focus on the enforcement side of things.
Do you think self-defense is a legitimate reason for firearms possession?
I do not know if there is a need to justify owning a firearm. We have the right to own firearms – for me it is hunting, for others it is collecting, others feel safer if they are perhaps in a rural community with prospects of wild animals. I actually had a friend who had a bear enter his cabin. Whatever the motivation is, we do not need to justify to the government why we want to own firearms – we have the right to do so.
Do you believe the AR-15 should remain restricted?
I have heard a lot from the firearms community about this – I saw the petition at my local gun shop. If we go back to applying specific definitions and terminologies then we do not need to get into whether this gun should be restricted or not. The firearms community can be so helpful with this – a lot of politicians in Ottawa, they do not have a lot of experience in firearms so when the RCMP comes to them with a proposal or brief, they adopt it. That is where we can work with the firearms community and say, “Ok, what is the problem here – what are the concerns?” With that, we would have a much more “common sense” approach to these things.
Will you commit to removing sound suppressors from the prohibited devices list? Further to that, what are your thoughts around magazine size restrictions?
I am not in a position to make comments on those specific items. A leader of a party or caucus needs to find common ground. I think before we get into specifics of any different clauses in the criminal code, the most important thing is to tighten up the definitions, remove the subjective power from the RCMP, and just ensure that we are always focused on firearms tied to crime and not responsible gun owners. The thing about a lot of these issues, if you talk to any gun owner about this – they can have very legitimate concerns around aspects around classification. For example, sound suppressors – I have not thought about the health side until you just mentioned it, or magazine capacity – but we have a very big country with a very diverse population in those urban and rural settings. I think the community, along with myself as leader – regulations would be easier to understand, there would be broader appeal for support. We will walk before we can run – we need to understand that there is a comfort level in the larger society with some of these things. It is all about wanting to engage,consult, and listen while making sure the firearms community knows that they have someone at the table who is sympathetic and understands their concerns – not someone who would treat everyone that owns a firearm as a problem. That is the issue we get into with Liberal governments, when they get in power, it is like they are looking for ways to make it worse. You just get that sense that they do not sympathize with us, they don’t believe in our rights, they do not believe we should be doing what we are doing – so we get that adversarial relationship.
Will you commit to ensure that no existing non-restricted firearms, restricted firearms or devices would be classified as prohibited under your leadership?
That is the benefit of having those strict definitions and taking it out of the hands of the RCMP and their subjective criteria. The laws of physics do not change from year to year, the guns themselves do not change from year to year – often the criteria does not change from year to year. What happens is you get a different person in a position of authority who has different interpretations of subjective criteria. I very much agree that it is a problem when you tell gun owners one year that, “yes – legally this is a restricted firearm” and then two or three years later they are all prohibited. That is the critical point we need to get to, non-firearms owners and people who are not as supportive of our community need to believe that we have a robust regime of licensing and safety while firearms owners do not feel like they are waiting for the next shoe to drop, or not having confidence that they are following the rules, or that the rules wont change – something like that.
How do we protect property rights, especially when it pertains to firearms?
That is a huge, huge issue. I was very concerned when I read those reports (2013 Alberta flood firearms seizure by the RCMP) – the Conservative Party spoke out against some of those actions. I believe that property rights have to be entrenched in the constitution, I believe we need greater protection on property rights and I think that would apply to not only entry into a home but also taking something out of a home. Unfortunately, there are all kinds of rights being read into our constitution by judges, by politicians, by different levels of government – but we still do not have a robust property rights regime in this country. The idea that agents of the crown would kick in my door and confiscate my property is very disturbing. There is always a justification in history for governments all around the world to ensure public safety – threats, greater security – when we give up those rights, the criteria for doing it the next time gets thinner and thinner. We have to be very vigilant about that. In 2013 it was because of floods and legitimate concerns around public safety, we do not want to get to the point that in twenty or thirty years we have a government that is preemptively seizing firearms because they are afraid there might be unrest. Imagine scenarios that are not far fetched, they happen in other countries.