In the days since the Liberal government passed Bill C-21 and C-22, the analysis and fallout continues.
In a nutshell, Bill C-21 is tough-on-guns legislation that allows municipalities to ban handguns, creates avenues for law enforcement to seize firearms with no oversight or judicial process (through red-flag and yellow-flag laws) and also examines changes to firearms restrictions in the future. There’s also some wordage over magazine capacity, and some other oddly-placed talk about arming nuclear security guards. For more details, you can read our initial write-up of Bill C-21 here. Bill C-22, ostensibly about changing drug crime punishments as an anti-racism measure, also strikes down mandatory minimum sentences for several firearms-related crimes. Our first coverage of Bill C-22 is here.
Journalists, lawyers and other insiders have noticed a strange juxtaposition between hard-nosed Bill C-21 and soft-on-gun-crime Bill C-22, especially when they were both announced in the same week. Here’s a look at different positions on the new laws.
The Sun, no lover of the Liberal Party, predictably counter-punched after Bill C-22 was announced. You can read Brian Lilley’s thoughts here, summed up in his final paragraph: “With this bill, Justin Trudeau is showing he isn’t serious about dealing with actual gun crime and any claims otherwise are simply electoral smoke and mirrors.”
The Star was far more concerned with Bill C-22’s anti-racism policies than its puzzling contrast with Bill C-21. Straight news coverage by Jacques Gallant failed to mention the sections dealing with firearms (an earlier piece barely mentioned those parts of the bill). News coverage and commentary in other more left-leaning media outlets was similar, whether it was established newspapers like the Globe & Mail (MP Jody Wilson-Raybould comments here) or alternative outlets like VICE. For the most part, these publications focused on changes to drug laws. The National Post, a centre-right paper, also barely touched on the changes to firearms laws.
Following commentary from gun control advocates in the wake of Bill C-21, CBC Television aired an interview with Rod Giltaca of the Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights. See Giltaca’s CBC interview with Natasha Fatah below:
Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police
In past months, Canadian law enforcement organizations have increasingly expressed concern with Liberal gun control policies. The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CAPC) posted an official statement on Bill C-21 to its website. This statement seems mostly in favour of Bill C-21, although it does not address potential municipal handgun bans. And, it ends with this paragraph: “In conclusion, the CACP supports all initiatives that help increase public safety and reduce victimization. While we agree with the proposed changes in principle, we must now focus on what these mean in practice. We must now clarify the role police services are expected to play in enforcing these new regulations.” That sounds like a diplomatic way of saying the CAPC has some doubts about the new law.
Chief Bryan Larkin of Waterloo Regional Police, who serves as CAPC president, told Kitchener Today that he’s generally supportive of the legislation, but is concerned about how a municipal handgun ban would actually work out. He told reporter Ben Eppel, “I think it’s taken a very difficult issue, and put it in the hands of municipalities, which again are very unique, but again, it also doesn’t come with any funding: support for enforcement, support for policy development, support for compliancy checks, etcetera. So, it’s the one piece of the legislation that I do have concerns [about].”
These statements are not a 180-degree turnaround from earlier CAPC statements. However, as recently as August, 2019, then-CAPC head Adam Palmer (Vancouver’s top cop) said a handgun ban would not end gun violence in Canada. The CAPC’s current statement says most firearms involved in crime are smuggled in from the US, but it seems very optimistic about the new regulations overall.
Runkle of the Bailey
Alberta-based lawyer Ian Runkle continues his YouTube commentary on Bill C-21. He hasn’t had a chance to start picking apart Bill C-22 yet, as he’s found lots of issues with C-21. See some more of his thoughts on the new legislation below. Runkle certainly has a lot to say about this legislation.