Ending the Long-gun Registry Act

An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2013.

Sponsor

Vic Toews  Conservative

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act to remove the requirement to register firearms that are neither prohibited nor restricted. It also provides for the destruction of existing records, held in the Canadian Firearms Registry and under the control of chief firearms officers, that relate to the registration of such firearms.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

  • Feb. 15, 2012 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
  • Feb. 7, 2012 Passed That Bill C-19, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act, {as amended}, be concurred in at report stage [with a further amendment/with further amendments] .
  • Feb. 7, 2012 Failed That Bill C-19 be amended by deleting Clause 29.
  • Feb. 7, 2012 Failed That Bill C-19 be amended by deleting Clause 28.
  • Feb. 7, 2012 Failed That Bill C-19 be amended by deleting Clause 24.
  • Feb. 7, 2012 Failed That Bill C-19 be amended by deleting Clause 23.
  • Feb. 7, 2012 Failed That Bill C-19 be amended by deleting Clause 19.
  • Feb. 7, 2012 Failed That Bill C-19 be amended by deleting Clause 11.
  • Feb. 7, 2012 Failed That Bill C-19 be amended by deleting Clause 4.
  • Feb. 7, 2012 Failed That Bill C-19 be amended by deleting Clause 3.
  • Feb. 7, 2012 Failed That Bill C-19 be amended by deleting Clause 2.
  • Feb. 7, 2012 Failed That Bill C-19 be amended by deleting Clause 1.
  • Feb. 7, 2012 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-19, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at report stage of the Bill and two sitting days shall be allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said Bill; and that, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration at report stage and on the second day allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the stage of the Bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.
  • Nov. 1, 2011 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.
  • Nov. 1, 2011 Failed That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following: “the House decline to give second reading to Bill C-19, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act, because it: ( a) destroys existing data that is of public safety value for provinces that wish to establish their own system of long-gun registration, which may lead to significant and entirely unnecessary expenditure of public funds; (b) fails to respond to the specific request from the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police for use of existing data in the interest of public safety; and (c) fails to strike a balance between the legitimate concerns of rural and Aboriginal Canadians and the need for police to have appropriate tools to enhance public safety”.
  • Oct. 27, 2011 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-19, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act, not more than three further sitting days shall be allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the Bill; and That, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the third day allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the Bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.

Ending The Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

February 15th, 2012 / 4 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Ryan Leef Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I apologize to my hon. colleague sitting next to me if he found anything I said pretentious because I certainly did not mean to come across that way at all. I am passionate about this, as are all the people in my riding. I cannot necessarily hide my excitement about some of the things that will occur, but I did not mean to come across as pretentious. I apologize if I came across that way.

I should clear something up on myth number six. I was not comparing firearms and vehicles. The opposition has said that licensing a gun is no different that licensing a car. I said that this was a myth. There is a big difference between the consequences of not registering a vehicle and the consequences of not registering a firearm. One has a provincial summary consequence, while the other has criminal implications. Those are far too severe, far too strict, specifically for a paperwork error that we have seen a number of times with this registry.

That was the comparison I was making and I hope that clarifies it.

Ending The Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

February 15th, 2012 / 4:05 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my friend the hon. member for Yukon whether he finds any contradiction in the fact that the Minister of Public Safety has attacked the long gun registry as an invasion of privacy, but has now proposed in Bill C-30 to put forward a registry with private information?

Will the hon. member for Yukon also oppose Bill C-30, as I intend to do?

Ending The Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

February 15th, 2012 / 4:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Ryan Leef Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, personally I do not see the comparison between holding information in a database that is already going through the Internet in a manner that allows the proliferation of child pornography in our country in the same fashion as the database with the long gun registry.

As a long gun owner, I need to physically fill out paperwork and go through screening. That information is supplied to a registry that has been fraught with errors, a registry that sent back to me registration information for firearms I did not even own. That in and of itself risked putting me in a criminal position.

They are very different systems.

In my mind, the lawful access legislation is a good body of legislation that would shut down the heinous and sick crimes of pedophilia and child pornography that exist in our country. I will be voting in support of that. The privacy laws for Canadians in that legislation, as the minister made very clear, are going to be protected. I have read the bill and I am confident that the strict provisions for warrant applications would absolutely ensure the privacy of Canadians and also consumer and corporate competitiveness, which is an excellent step.

Ending The Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

February 15th, 2012 / 4:05 p.m.
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NDP

Charmaine Borg Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to inform the House that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine.

I am pleased to have this opportunity to add my voice to those of many Quebeckers, Canadians, police officers and victims who strongly condemn abolishing the long gun registry and its data. This irresponsible choice shows once again the take-it-or-leave-it Conservative rhetoric that has prevailed in the House of Commons since the last election.

Under the Liberal government, the initial implementation phase of this registry cost Canadians a lot more than expected, while also being plagued by significant delays and registration costs. The lack of leadership and the poor estimate of the actual costs were indeed disturbing. However, the current cost of maintaining the registry is $4 million annually, while the total budget for the Canadian firearms program is $76.5 million. Let us do some quick calculations. The registry accounts for 5.23% of the program's annual budget. Hon. members will agree that this is a relatively small amount and that the significant investments that had to be made to create the registry are now behind us. Therefore, destroying these records would waste the public funds already invested.

With their taxes, Quebeckers have paid close to one-quarter of the cost of the registry, and they want a registry. Quebec was even prepared to take over this registry, but the Conservative government flatly refused. Destroying the data would waste the large investment made by Quebeckers and Canadians.

Since the destruction of those records is part of the Conservative plan, I find it unacceptable that the provinces, which have invested a lot of money, were not consulted before making this decision. The Conservative government refuses yet again to listen to the provinces, just as it did with Bill C-10. That shows a total lack of respect.

I also want to point out that the speeches made by the Conservatives in recent months are very inconsistent. The Conservatives partly justify abolishing the long gun registry by suggesting that citizens should be treated like adults and that the government should not interfere in their private lives. The government also says that it is wrong to treat law-abiding hunters as if they were criminals.

I find it very ironic that, under the lawful access legislation, all Canadians using the Internet will be treated like criminals, without any regard for their right to privacy. After all, one of the main goals of the Conservatives with Bill C-19 is to destroy data in order to protect privacy. These two positions are rather controversial and inconsistent.

I want to point out that those same hunters whose privacy the government wants to protect also have computers at home. They will probably use the Internet. I am having a very hard time understanding the government's position. I do not understand why we are legally required to disclose details about our private lives by registering our animals, our children and our cars, but registering a firearm that could be used to kill someone, whether intentionally or accidentally, is an invasion of privacy. That makes no sense.

Simply put, the government is against data that interfere with their rhetoric. They are underestimating the intelligence of Canadians.

As of September 30, 2011, the registry was being accessed 17,000 times a day. A survey showed that nearly all general duty police officers use the system, and that in 74% of cases, the information they obtain assists their operations. The registry enables police officers to better prepare their intervention strategies, which is crucial to protecting those who bear the weighty responsibility of keeping us safe.

That is why William Blair, Toronto police chief and president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, and Daniel Parkinson, president of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, expressed concern about the safety of police officers and Canadians should the data be destroyed.

In Quebec, Yves Francoeur, president of the Fraternité des policiers et policières de Montréal, said, “To keep people safe, we need a registry, no matter what the cost”.

Marc Parent, chief of the Montreal city police, said, “This is a tool we use every day. The need is there".

The RCMP and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police have also spoken in favour of maintaining the registry.

The government is bragging about making the work of police officers easier, but Bill C-19 does not make any sense to police officers across the country.

There is absolutely no question that the registry gives police officers essential strategic planning tools that they use for their interventions. However, I am very concerned about victims and future victims of criminal acts committed with guns. I am thinking in particular of the victims at the Polytechnique in 1989 and at Dawson College in 2006, of police officer Valérie Gignac, and of the RCMP officers in Mayerthorpe in 2005, who were all killed by guns. In 2010, the RCMP said that in the previous 10 years, 10 out of 13 police officers were killed by long guns.

Victims' groups have condemned Bill C-19. It is grotesque, insensitive and cruel to all these victims to abolish a registry whose records can save lives. This government says it protects victims, but its position on Bill C-19 shows the exact opposite. Rather than presenting Canadians with a take-it-or-leave-it choice so as to divide them, the NDP wants to unite them. Our party seeks a compromise between the public safety issues that could result from the abolition and destruction of this registry and aboriginal treaty rights. We believe it is possible to find a solution for all Canadians.

In 2010, we proposed the following: decriminalizing the failure to register a firearm for first-time offenders and issuing a ticket instead; indicating in the legislation that long gun owners would not have to pay registration costs; prohibiting the disclosure of information about firearms owners, except for the purpose of protecting the public or when ordered by a court or by law; and creating a legal guarantee to protect aboriginal treaty rights.

Our point of view has not changed. We support a constructive dialogue between the stakeholders, so that no one is left out and we all work together. Recent governments have divided us enough. The time has come to take measures that will foster reconciliation between all Canadians. There are solutions that will improve public safety while also respecting aboriginal people and everyone who lives in rural areas.

It is time the Conservative government listened to Canadians and acted like a responsible government towards them and towards all those who risk their lives to maintain the peace.

Ending The Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

February 15th, 2012 / 4:15 p.m.
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Ajax—Pickering
Ontario

Conservative

Chris Alexander Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, our hon. colleague described this bill as grotesque, inconsistent and ideological. If that is the case, could she explain to us why two members of her caucus voted in favour of the bill in the last vote? Why did the hon. member for Western Arctic, who is also part of her caucus, state very clearly his intention to vote in favour of the bill?

Ending The Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

February 15th, 2012 / 4:15 p.m.
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NDP

Charmaine Borg Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, I said in my speech that it is clear that this government is trying to be divisive. We proposed a solution in 2010 in order to unite Canadians and to have a discourse that could allay our public safety fears, while protecting the rights and interests of aboriginal people and those living in remote regions. We want to unite people and we made a proposal, but it was rejected. The Conservatives should be asking themselves why they reject our proposals that aim to unite Canadians.

Ending The Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

February 15th, 2012 / 4:15 p.m.
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NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, would my colleague comment on what she thinks is going on in the mind of the government because of its conflicting ideologies? First, the Conservatives are saying that they want to abolish the gun registry for privacy reasons. Now they are proposing an online snooping bill. Could she help me understand where their thinking comes from?

Ending The Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

February 15th, 2012 / 4:15 p.m.
See context

NDP

Charmaine Borg Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for her question. I am confused as well. The government says it wants to abolish the firearms registry because it does not want to treat hunters and those own firearms for recreation as criminals. However, it is prepared to treat law-abiding Internet users as criminals. I am confused and I think the Canadian public is confused too.

Ending The Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

February 15th, 2012 / 4:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Bev Shipley Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am confused when the member talks about united Canadians. The long gun registry has criminalized the innocent, farmers, hunters and sports shooters. However, when we bring forward bills for justice that will actually take on serious criminals, whether they be drug dealers or pedophiles, you vote against those.

Therefore, I am confused about the phrase “united Canadians” when you are trying to protect the criminals and wanting to criminalize the innocent.

Ending The Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

February 15th, 2012 / 4:15 p.m.
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NDP

Charmaine Borg Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am really sick of hearing the government say that. To them everything is black and white: either you are with criminals or against criminals. We are for victims and this bill protects victims, but you want to go against the registry. I do not understand. Is the government with or against victims?

Ending The Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

February 15th, 2012 / 4:15 p.m.
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Blackstrap
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Lynne Yelich Minister of State (Western Economic Diversification)

Mr. Speaker, I would like the member to clarify that the Internet bill before the House does not snoop into the private lives of people. It is there to prevent particularly pedophiles and those who are suspect to police. There is quite a difference between the two and I would like her to clarify that.

Ending The Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

February 15th, 2012 / 4:20 p.m.
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NDP

Isabelle Morin Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, every time I rise in this House to support or oppose a bill, it is usually with great joy. Today, however, it is with great sadness that I am obliged to rise here today to tell the Conservative government that of course I oppose this bill.

I would like to begin by thanking the groups and individuals in my riding who took the time to write to me, asking me to stand up to the Conservative government and oppose this bill.

I would like to take a few moments to read some excerpts from the emails I received from my constituents, whose emails show that they oppose this bill and explain how afraid they are that this bill will pass.

A group from Montreal, the Association québécoise Plaidoyer-Victimes, wrote the following: “Rifles and shotguns in the wrong hands are just as deadly as handguns. Strict controls are essential for all firearms. Registration holds firearms owners accountable for their firearms. It reduces the chance that their weapons will be diverted into the hands of individuals without permits, and helps curb illegal trafficking. Gun control works. Health and safety experts have shown that stronger gun laws have reduced gun-related death rates.”

Approximately 400 of my constituents wrote to me about this bill. Of those 400 people, there were perhaps seven who supported the government and 393 who supported the opposition. Many people wrote letters asking me to continue to fight the elimination of the firearms registry.

Here is an excerpt from a letter demonstrating the fear of which I spoke. “This sends a clear message to street gangs that they can buy a shotgun as easily as they can buy a package of cigarettes at the corner store. Then, they saw off the barrel and the butt to get a concealable weapon that is classified as restricted. Although the government is saying that it wants to maintain the prohibited weapons registry, it is leaving the door wide open for wrongdoers to make their own prohibited weapons without any constraints. It is complete nonsense to tell the public that the fact that a permit will still be required to purchase a restricted weapon will help to ensure their safety.”

Another individual wrote, “As soon as long guns no longer need to be registered in the name of a specific person, as is now required by this registry, anyone will be able to buy a firearm and then transform it into a restricted weapon. The police will no longer be able to find out who purchased and sold these weapons.”

Yet another individual wrote, “Abolishing the registry will give wrongdoers a new way to easily obtain very deadly, restricted weapons. We can thus expect an increase in crime and an increase in the cost of the justice and prison systems, which will exceed the cost of maintaining the current system.”

Finally, another one of my constituents wrote:

“It is for the general protection of the public and the public in general through the normal taxation provisions shall pay the cost of the supervision of the shooting range when it is required. The regular police forces will provide the service at very little cost. This will not deal with illegal arms trafficking, but it will help in many other cases of shootings and will narrow the field of inquiry in cases where an unregistered gun might have been used”.

This shows that my constituents are afraid. They are very afraid of what will happen in our country this evening, in a few hours. In my riding in particular, there is a high rate of crime. In Lachine, many murders are committed using firearms, sometimes long guns. I am sad to see that the government is not addressing victims' needs for protection.

Every time we ask questions in this regard, the government always responds that it is in favour of safety. The Conservatives all have that word tattooed on their foreheads. Whether they are talking about planes or prisons, safety is always mentioned. The government has introduced a bill that violates people's privacy on the Internet in the name of safety. In this case, they are proposing a bill that will make the people in my riding less safe.

Currently, the long gun registry is used about 17,000 times a day, yet the government says that it is useless. I do not understand its logic. Many suicides involve long guns. The registry can be a big help in dealing with such cases. When I was in university, I was part of an organization in my riding that people could call if they were contemplating suicide. We helped people. We started by asking callers if they knew when they were going to commit suicide. Then we asked them if they know how they were going to do it. About half the time—if I remember correctly, because I do not have the statistics here—people said that they were going to use a gun, often a long gun.

After finding out the how, the where and the when, if the caller planned to use a firearm, we checked the registry to find out if he or she owned a firearm. Knowing the caller possessed a firearm was very helpful to the intervention. As soon as we knew the how, where and when, we intervened. I know for a fact that police officers were very glad to know if the person whose home they were entering owned a firearm. Their lives could be in danger. The information helped officers plan their response.

I apologize. I am emotional because I have dealt with this in my life.

One of the government's arguments is that the quality of the information in the registry is poor. I was a teacher, and when a student handed in a bad test, I did not tell him or her to toss it, but to redo it. That makes perfect sense to me. The current registry may not be top quality, but it can be improved. The NDP proposed a number of changes to improve the registry so that all Canadians can benefit from the safety it affords. We wanted to make sure that the people for whom the registry is a problem were included in the process. Among other things, we proposed decriminalizing the failure to register a firearm for a first offence and issuing a ticket instead. That makes perfect sense.

When the registry was created in 1995, it was not perfect. We realize that now. It is our duty to improve it, not destroy it. We have also proposed that the bill indicate that long gun owners would not have to pay registration costs.

I hear the Conservatives saying that it is too costly for farmers and for those who use long guns in their leisure activities. So we have suggested a solution.

We also propose that disclosing information about the owners of firearms be prohibited, except for the purpose of protecting the public, or when ordered by a court or by law. We also propose creating a legal guarantee to protect aboriginal treaty rights. Those who represent aboriginal constituencies and are using this argument should have considered our amendments.

I have a lot more to say. I know I will not convince any government members to vote against their party today, but I will ask them two things, which will help me sleep better tonight. As we know, Quebec has asked the government to transfer the data. I hope the government will consider that. We know it will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars if the Quebec government decides to seek an injunction against the federal government. I therefore ask the government to at least save that money, since we are talking about budget cuts.

Furthermore, the hon. member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound told us yesterday that he plans to celebrate tonight. I really hope he changes his mind and foregoes the celebration.

Ending The Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

February 15th, 2012 / 4:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Joyce Murray Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the NDP member on her very interesting speech. I have a question on the position of women in this debate. The victims at École Polytechnique were young women. It is mostly men who own guns, but it is primarily women who are the victims of violent crimes involving guns. Policies such as the change to the old age security program will affect primarily elderly women, women who do not have a lot of means.

Does the hon. member think there is a pattern, namely that women are not seen as equally important in the eyes of Conservative members, and that this is part of the challenge?

Ending The Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

February 15th, 2012 / 4:30 p.m.
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NDP

Isabelle Morin Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for her excellent question. I actually did want to speak about the case of women in my speech, but I got carried away and did not have time to do so. This will give me an opportunity to remind the Conservatives that one in three women who die at the hands of their husbands are shot, and 88% of them are shot with legally owned rifles and shotguns. Since the introduction of the registry, spousal homicides are down 50%. This bill really does hurt women.

To echo what the hon. member was saying, I am extremely disappointed to see how this government tends to treat women. Through the introduction of several bills, I hope that this will improve in the future.

Ending The Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

February 15th, 2012 / 4:30 p.m.
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Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo
B.C.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, I had to get up in response to the last question. I am a woman and a mother. My children grew up in a rural area. In that rural area, one day the farmer next door used his long gun rifle to protect our children from a cougar that was stalking them. Many years later, farmers, hunters and sports shooters still feel so angry, degraded and criminalized over legislation that has done nothing.

I would ask the member to look at what the legislation has done. This is not an issue about women. This is an issue about criminalizing law-abiding people and farmers, who in my case protected my children from cougars.