An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act (exemption of long guns from registration)

This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2002.

Sponsor

John Herron  Progressive Conservative

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

Not active, as of Feb. 16, 2001
(This bill did not become law.)

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.

Criminal CodePrivate Member'S Business

October 17th, 2001 / 6:25 p.m.
See context

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on Bill C-269, an act to amend part III of the criminal code and the Firearms Act, introduced by the hon. member for Fundy Royal.

The bill's proposed amendments to the Firearms Act would exempt all non-restricted rifles and shotguns from registration. The requirements to register restricted and prohibited firearms would remain unchanged, as we have heard. The proposed amendments to part III of the criminal code would exempt the non-restricted rifles and shotguns from offence provisions that deal with possession of a firearm without a registration certificate.

The amendments proposed in Bill C-269 are inconsistent with the goals and aims of the Firearms Act. This act is a very important public safety initiative. It requires the licensing of firearm owners in Canada and the registration of firearms in Canada by the end of 2002.

The bill's proposed amendments would negate the most innovative part of the registration phase of the Canadian firearms program, which is very important to the public safety of Canadians. The requirement to register prohibited and restricted firearms has been in force for decades. It is the registration of non-restricted rifles and shotguns that the Firearms Act, passed in 1995, initiated that is its most innovative feature.

The Minister of Justice cannot support the changes to the legislation that would challenge this contribution to public safety. She cannot condone amendments that would reduce in any way individual responsibility and accountability among firearms owners.

Rifles and shotguns are the most numerous and easily acquired types of firearms in Canada. They are also the types of firearms most often recovered from crime scenes. Over 40% of women killed by their husbands are shot. Most of these women, 78%, are shot with legally owned firearms, usually rifles and shotguns.

Registration links owners to their firearms. This accountability for registered firearms also increases the likelihood of compliance with safe storage and handling practices. It encourages owners to be more careful when they loan firearms and to tell police when firearms are stolen. Excluding rifles and shotguns from registration would remove the vast majority of guns in Canada from this increased accountability.

Registration of non-restricted rifles and shotguns provides police with a new tool to investigate and prosecute firearm related crime involving firearms. Registration will assist in deterring illegal sales of firearms in Canada as all firearms are registered to new owners at the point of sale. Registered firearms cannot easily be given or sold to an unlicensed individual as they can be traced back to the original owner.

Registration is also an important link in the process of keeping firearms from people who pose a threat to public safety. The transfer of ownership of a firearm initiates a background check of the person buying a gun, whether it be a pistol, rifle or shotgun.

Registration is also important to curbing illicit trade and smuggling in firearms. Registration also allows firearms to be traced and tracing can reveal the paths and sources that smugglers use. Such information is essential to finding and stopping the illegal flow of firearms into and out of Canada.

Canada has important obligations in the area of countering firearm trafficking and preventing firearms from going into the black market. In fact this summer Canada joined several countries in signing a firearms protocol toward that end, at a UN small arm's conference.

The Firearms Act is essential to public safety and the registration of rifles and shotguns is a major part of the Canadian firearms program. The Firearms Act, including its registration component, is supported by more than 350 public health, domestic violence, police and community organizations and numerous polls done over the past years show it has the support of more than 70% of the Canadian public. The law enforcement community supports the firearms program as a valuable tool in reducing the number of crimes involving firearms and assisting police in investigating and solving crimes involving firearms.

Firearms owners will see benefits too. Stolen firearms that are registered can be returned to their lawful owners. Registered firearms of sentimental or antique value can be more easily passed on through inheritance and registration papers are proof for use in insurance purposes. The firearms program is a success in terms of public safety.

For these reasons the Minister of Justice does not support the bill and the proposed amendments to part III of the criminal code and the Firearms Act.

Criminal CodePrivate Member'S Business

October 17th, 2001 / 6:15 p.m.
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Progressive Conservative

John Herron Progressive Conservative Fundy Royal, NB

The hon. member for Pictou--Antigonish--Guysborough refers to Uncle Henry's rifle. I am not sure he actually does have an Uncle Henry, but these shotguns and rifles are essentially tools that a farmer may use for the protection of his livestock and are kept under lock and key.

My party has always resisted the long gun registry because it simply does not work and it targets the wrong group. This bill is what we would rather have. We know that the minister of justice of the day said that the cost of implementing the registry would be at most a mere $85 million. The member for Edmonton North has fought for this legislation tooth and nail since she became a member of parliament.

Let us just say that it was a noble intent, it was the right thing to do. We disagree with it. Even if it were, we now know the price tag is well above $400 million. We know that there are very prudent estimates that when this thing is finally settled it will cost over $800 million to actually implement.

The point that I want to make is we could use those dollars toward a truly safer street agenda, including more money for the RCMP for overtime, for personnel and for new technologies to fight cyber crime. In the context of the world events which have taken place since September 11, there is the very real issue of putting those added resources toward augmenting the budget of the RCMP or even CSIS to help them fight biker gangs and terrorist cells, as opposed to arbitrarily taxing deer hunters, duck hunters and farmers. It just makes a lot of sense.

I am arguing our position from a purely economic perspective in this regard. Even if it was a noble intent, we now know that not only was it misguided and ill-advised but it has become one of the most comprehensive and expensive boondoggles that the federal government has ever had throughout Canadian history.

We are trying to use this private member's bill, although it is non-votable, to help educate the public to the fact that any reasonable parliamentarian is not against gun control or having more stringent provisions to deter accidental harm from firearms. We want to ensure that we have a mandatory additional penalty in place for any criminal act committed with the use of a firearm. These are the kind of things that the public wants us to do. They want us to deter the criminal use of firearms.

If we want to make our streets safer, why do we not use that $800 million? We still have about $400 million that we can save to achieve a truly safer street agenda. That is why I moved Bill C-269. I made a commitment to the constituents in my riding of Fundy--Royal that at the very least I would do my best to keep the issue alive. That is what I am trying to do with respect to this issue. Maybe that says something to accountability.

I know the member from Cypress Hills--Grasslands has been steadfast in his opposition against this arbitrary registry. I applaud him for his efforts. This is an issue that transcends many party lines. It really is a split on rural Canada versus urban Canada. However even urban Canadians are now saying that when they fought this back in the 1997 election, they thought it was the right thing to do. Now that the price tag is $400 million and it might even get to as high as $800 million, they are saying that perhaps we were right back in 1997, that it was a bad idea and that we were concentrating on the wrong element of society.

Let us target our energies toward criminals. Give the RCMP and our law enforcement officers a tool kit to fight crime. We should take the issue and weigh it on one hand, then on the other. Are we concerned with terrorist cells and having the resources from a security perspective with respect to the RCMP to actually flush those folks out? Are we concerned about organized crime? Instead of taxing deer hunters, duck hunters and farmers, why do we not give the tool kits to the RCMP to fight terrorist cells and biker gangs?

We know that long guns principally are not the weapons of crime in an urban context. Therefore, we are really targeting the wrong group.

It may be a noble intent, but all of the good that we are trying to get out of Bill C-269, I can advocate was already in place with respect to Bill C-17. That would have been a better way to go as opposed to using this useless, cumbersome long gun registry. There are a lot of superlatives being added by my friends and colleagues who join me in their opposition to Bill C-68 and in support of my private member's bill, Bill C-269.

It is not even a cash cow for the government. It is so bureaucratic and so expensive that it is not even paying for itself. Any other reasonable government would have actually cut its losses long ago.

I ask all members to reflect on this particular issue and then, as time goes by, find some way to keep the good and the noble intent that might have been in place in Bill C-68 and ditch the long gun registry, which, at its worst, is an attack on rural attack and clearly is an attack on the legitimate long gun owners of rifles, rifles that are used by deer hunters, duck hunters and farmers.

I want to thank my colleagues for their encouragement and contribution throughout my remarks. If I was ever at a loss for words throughout my speech, there was no shortage of assistance from my friends and colleagues. I want to thank them for their support.

Criminal CodePrivate Member'S Business

October 17th, 2001 / 6:15 p.m.
See context

Progressive Conservative

John Herron Progressive Conservative Fundy Royal, NB

moved that Bill C-269, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act (exemption of long guns from registration), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to have an opportunity to maintain a very strong commitment I made to the constituents of my riding of Fundy--Royal and, I might add, to an issue that resonates very much throughout rural Canada with regard to a piece of legislation introduced by the government that may be very noble in intent in terms of deterring the criminal use of firearms, but which has become one of the largest fiscal boondoggles we have had in Canadian history. The bill I am referring to is commonly known throughout the country as Bill C-68.

Here is what we are advocating. We all categorically agree that any modern society needs to have provisions in place with respect to the handling of firearms so that individuals who acquire them are properly trained in their use. We need to have provisions in place whereby firearms are stored under lock and key in a place separate from the ammunition. The ammunition should be in one compartment and the firearm itself in another one to avoid any kind of accidental harm.

Members may be familiar with the fact that all of the provisions I have outlined were in what was termed to be one of the most progressive pieces of firearm legislation in the industrialized world, that is, this country's legislation formerly known as Bill C-17, introduced by the Progressive Conservative government. It never had a chance to be measured as to the degree of success it could actually entail.

The bill I have put forward does this. All the safe handling provisions, all the acquisition certificates that Bill C-68 and its predecessor Bill C-17 had and all the issues from a safety perspective are still in place, with the exception that it does not call for the registration of long guns such as rifles and shotguns which are utilized throughout Canada by deer hunters, duck hunters and farmers. We know that registering long guns belonging to deer hunters, duck hunters and farmers will not deter the criminal use of firearms. In fact, I might add that it is an arbitrary tax on those individuals. What we want to do is deter the criminal use of firearms.

The bill is a surgical strike on Bill C-68, keeping the good elements contained in it but extracting the most divisive element. Those weapons or firearms that are not restricted or prohibited, essentially long guns such as shotguns and rifles which are used by deer hunters, duck hunters and farmers, are the only firearms that do not need to be registered in a mandatory fashion. That is it.

In our modern society in this great nation hand guns have been registered since the 1930s. We should never touch that issue. However what I am talking about is--

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

February 16th, 2001 / noon
See context

Progressive Conservative

John Herron Progressive Conservative Fundy Royal, NB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-269, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act (exemption of long guns from registration).

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to reintroduce my private member's bill, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act, exempting long guns from the registration system.

The purpose of the bill is to remove the need to register long guns commonly used by deer hunters, duck hunters and farmers from the Firearms Act.

I believe the registration scheme is nothing more than a tax on innocent and law-abiding Canadians. The bill will put an end to their needless harassment.

Moreover, the bill would give the Canadian government the capacity not to waste $800 million on an ill-advised long gun registry. It could use the money on Canadian priorities such as health care, post-secondary education, fighting organized crime or putting more money into the RCMP. Those are the priorities of Canadians, not the silly long gun registry.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)