An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act (repeal of long-gun registry)

This bill was last introduced in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session, which ended in March 2011.

This bill was previously introduced in the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session.

Sponsor

Candice Bergen  Conservative

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

Status

In committee (House), as of Nov. 4, 2009
(This bill did not become 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 repeal the requirement to obtain a registration certificate for firearms that are neither prohibited firearms nor restricted 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

Sept. 22, 2010 Passed That the Second Report of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security (recommendation not to proceed further with Bill C-391, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act (repeal of long-gun registry)), presented on Wednesday, June 9, 2010, be concurred in.
Nov. 4, 2009 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.

April 30th, 2015 / 8:45 a.m.
See context

Greg Farrant Manager, Government Affairs and Policy, Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters

Good morning. Thank you, Mr. Chair, members of the committee, and my fellow panellists.

On behalf of the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, the largest conservation-based organization in Ontario, our 100,000 members, supporters, and subscribers, and our 725 member clubs across the province, thank you for the courtesy of inviting me to appear before the committee to speak to Bill C-42, the common-sense firearms licensing act.

It has been clear from the rhetoric that has developed around this legislation and from many of the comments made during debate in the House, that there is either a troubling lack of understanding of what the legislation does or does not do, or a deliberate attempt to misrepresent what the government is seeking to do through the legislation by suggesting that it will open the floodgates to a proliferation of irresponsible behaviour on the part of legal, licensed, law-abiding firearms owners in this country.

In fact, some members of Parliament have gone so far as to suggest that once passed the bill will sanction behaviour reminiscent of the wild west, the same kind of dire predictions that characterize the response of anti-gun lobbyists. Many of the comments have been remarkably similar to those we heard in 2011 and 2012 when debate focused on Bill C-391 and Bill C-19, the latter of which finally scrapped the long-gun registry.

Not only are many of the characterizations we heard in the House inaccurate, but quite frankly it's disappointing when in the interest of partisan politics some have suggested that the bill is either a bribe to one group in the firearms community, or payola, as one member of Parliament put it, to not testify against other government legislation; or a gift to the firearms community; or politically partisan legislation that will benefit only those who represent ridings where firearms ownership and use is the norm; or worse still, that it's the product of a “gun lobby” with a U.S.-influenced ideology, which frankly I find offensive.

During second reading debate on the bill, a number of members expressed the belief that the legislation will benefit those in rural and northern areas of the country. For members who ascribe to this theory, I would respectfully remind them that firearms owners from across Canada come from many places and many backgrounds.

In fact, if they think there is a rural-urban divide on long-gun ownership in particular, I suggest they think again. A quick survey of just our members in three urban centres, Windsor, London, and Ottawa, earlier this week showed that 4,500 of our members who own firearms live in those centres. When it comes to a large urban centre like Toronto, almost 290,000 non-restricted firearms are owned by residents of Canada's biggest city, and 85,000 are legally licensed to possess a firearm. Of those, roughly 32,000 are licensed to possess restricted or prohibited firearms, which in 2012 translated into 90,000 legally registered restricted and prohibited firearms in the GTA.

Firearms owners in Canada are judges, lawyers, farmers, electricians, mechanics, plumbers, accountants, even federal politicians, many of whom, like former interim Liberal and opposition leader Bill Graham, live in and represent urban ridings. They are not criminals. They are not gang members. Rather, they are lawful firearms owners who obey the law.

The changes proposed in Bill C-42 will make life easier for these people because there will be less needless paperwork. It will not, however, change the way that these responsible, law-abiding individuals safely use, store, and transport their firearms. Despite this we have had at least one member of Parliament who attempted to link the debate of Bill C-42 and the changes it will make with the behaviour of terrorists. Others have suggested that the changes like the application of an ATT to a licence will result in firearms owners running around mall parking lots with guns in their possession threatening the public safety.

This bill does some very simple things, some of which are specifically designed to greatly enhance the public safety. The rest are nothing more than common-sense proposals that pose no additional risk to the public despite all the hyperbole. I will not speak to all the changes proposed in the legislation but will focus instead on a few key aspects of the bill.

The grace period for licence renewal comes with an incentive to renew. It addresses an administrative error on the part of the licensee that immediately and unfairly places them in violation of the Criminal Code. It also comes with restrictions that ensure that until the error is corrected they cannot use their firearms or purchase ammunition for those firearms. The bill proposes to merge possession-only licences with possession and acquisition licences. Canadians who have a POL have owned and used firearms responsibly for decades. The very fact that their licence status will change is hardly a reason for them to suddenly and inexplicably become irresponsible.

Bill C-42 contains two very important changes that taken alone or together will help to enhance public safety, something that many parliamentarians and anti-gun groups have been arguing for for years.

The first, which I might point out has been a long-standing policy of my organization, is that all new or first-time firearms owners will no longer be able to simply challenge a test to get a licence, but will have to take the firearms safety course.

You would think that even a group like the Coalition for Gun Control would applaud this move, but instead of admitting that the provision enhances public safety, they choose instead to focus on what they believe are discrepancies on how the course is taught across the country instead of supporting the introduction of mandatory training.

The second relates to proposed changes that Bill C-42 would make to sections 109 and 110 of the Criminal Code that relate to mandatory and discretionary prohibition orders. Court orders prohibiting the possession of firearms and other articles including ammunition are mandatory when a person has been convicted or granted a discharge. Bill C-42 adds that a mandatory prohibition order would apply regardless of the possible sentence when violence was used, threatened, or attempted against the offender's current or former intimate partner, or the child or parent of the offender or the offender's current or former intimate partner.

With respect to discretionary prohibition orders, Bill C-42 provides that, in circumstances involving the use or threat of violence, prohibition orders may be imposed for life or a shorter period as opposed to the current maximum of 10 years. Surely this is something that should be supported, but we've been disappointed with the reaction of anti-gun groups and others to what we believe is a sensible amendment that enhances public safety.

During debate in the House, several members of Parliament spoke of their concerns about illegal firearms coming into Canada and chastised the government for not doing anything to address the threat. In fact, this bill proposes to end the loophole that stops information sharing between law enforcement agencies, in this case, the RCMP and the CBSA when they are investigating the importation of illegal guns. The concern over the flow of illegal firearms into Canada is a serious one, and depending upon the jurisdiction, is responsible for the large majority of guns used in the commission of a crime. In my view, this amendment goes a long way to addressing this problem. Just anecdotally, former police chief Bill Blair, estimated that 55% of the guns used in crime in Toronto were smuggled in from the U.S., while in B.C. one police chief suggested it could be up to 90%.

Lastly I want to touch on the portion of the bill that amends section 19 of the Firearms Act pertaining to the circumstances under which authorization to transport restricted or prohibited firearms is granted. The bill provides for automatic authorizations upon licence renewal, not automatic licence renewal, as the coalition would have you believe. It simply removes the requirement to obtain paper authorizations every time you want to move a firearm. A person who holds the appropriate licence will be authorized to transport them for the five purposes spelled out in the legislation, not freely transported in cars at any time going anywhere within the province, as the coalition and others have suggested.

In closing, Mr. Chair and members of the panel, Bill C-42 proposes reasonable amendments to sections of the Criminal Code that make sense, that eliminate red tape, and introduce additional public safety measures. It does not make guns easier to get. It does not allow firearms owners to transport them at will wherever they want, and it does not put guns in the hands of the “wrong people”.

I am pleased to see that the Liberal Party of Canada has chosen to support many of the aspects of the bill, and we appreciate and acknowledge that.

Thank you again, Mr. Chair and members of the committee, for affording me the courtesy of appearing here today.

April 4th, 2012 / 7:15 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Madam Speaker, clearly my colleague was not part of the studies we did on Bill C-391. Maybe he was not at all of the studies, nor did he tour around the country, as I did, and speak to front-line officers and actually travel with them and look at the systems.

I can say that front-line officers are not using the long gun registry. In fact, there was a study done in Edmonton. More than 2,000 front-line officers responded and said they are not depending on the long gun registry.

It is time for us all to move forward. What we need to do is look at ways in which we can truly combat gun crime. I am very pleased that one of the things that is included in the bill is destroying all of the data. We promised to end the long gun registry and that means destroying the data.

As we go forward seeing the bill reach royal assent and seeing firearms owners finally not being criminalized by this Liberal boondoggle, which by the way the CBC said cost $2 billion, we should support legislation that truly combats gun crime, truly supports people who are in need of help, whether from domestic violence or other things, rather than targeting law-abiding Canadians.

Ending The Long-Gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

February 15th, 2012 / 4:50 p.m.
See context

Portage—Lisgar Manitoba

Conservative

Candice Bergen ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to be the final Conservative member of Parliament to speak in favour of ending the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry.

I am also very pleased to work on behalf of law-abiding firearms owners in this country who use firearms for legitimate purposes. They are not criminals. They have never been criminals. They contribute so much to our country. They love this land. I am honoured to stand here on their behalf and to work hard for these good Canadians.

We have been discussing this important issue for 17 years and I am pleased to report that the end is finally in sight. In a very short time we will vote for the very last time on the future of this wasteful and ineffective measure, and it has been wasteful and ineffective on all counts.

CBC has reported it cost over $2 billion to implement the long gun registry. Every individual, every party, every group, no matter what side of the debate they are on, acknowledges that $2 billion is far too much money. It has been a waste of money. Members should think of what we could have done with $2 billion in terms of helping young people, helping individuals and young people who might be involved in gang activity, putting more police on the street, helping victims of violence. All of us could suggest a positive contribution in terms of helping our country to reduce violence with $2 billion. However, setting up a long gun registry which targets law-abiding Canadians and makes them criminals has been a complete waste.

Throughout this entire time and even while studying the file before I became a member of Parliament, there has never been one example, there has not been one instance, there has been absolutely no proof that the long gun registry has done anything to reduce violence or to stop a single gun crime. That is why the long gun registry must go. That is why it will go.

I would like to thank the member for Yorkton—Melville. He truly is the elder statesman on this issue. Even before ordinary Canadians had caught on to the systemic problem that is the long gun registry, he was fighting to have it abolished.

One of the issues that gets people in my riding very upset, and rightly so, is the long gun registry. All of us have heard loud and clear from our constituents on this issue. When the majority of us on this side of the House go back to our ridings, we are asked questions all the time. I just did a series of town hall meetings throughout my riding. The questions that came up all the time were: when are we going to get rid of the long gun registry and when is it going to end. Finally we can say that the end is near. The final vote will happen in the House tonight.

Frankly, the Liberal introduction of this nonsensical policy is the reason that many of us are here today.

In the last Parliament I introduced a private member's bill to end the long gun registry that only targets law-abiding hunters, farmers and sports shooters. At that time we came within a hair's breadth of ending the long gun registry with Bill C-391. We were all disappointed to see it defeated.

Unfortunately, some individuals on the other side of the House broke faith with their constituents. They told their constituents they would vote to end the long gun registry but they did not. Instead, they voted in the interests of their party bosses.

However, every cloud has a silver lining. We decided that we might have lost a battle but we were determined that we would not lose the war. We made an effort to get out and talk to Canadians. We knew that we needed a majority government. We needed a mandate from Canadians in order to end the wasteful long gun registry, and that is exactly what we received.

Listening to Michael Ignatieff's demands that all Liberals vote to keep on criminalizing law-abiding gun owners meant that we exchanged Liberal Larry Bagnell for the Conservative member for Yukon. It meant that we exchanged Liberal Anthony Rota for the Conservative member for Nipissing—Timiskaming. It meant that we exchanged Liberal Mark Holland for the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence, the Conservative MP for Ajax—Pickering. They were great trades.

It was not only the Liberals who lost. Listening to the big union bosses in the backroom of the NDP did not work out so well for some of those members either.

The good people of Sault Ste. Marie made what some would call an MP upgrade from Tony Martin to the Conservative member for Sault Ste. Marie.

I would encourage members on the other side to remember this: It was not only the Conservatives who campaigned to end the long gun registry during the most recent election. Many NDP candidates from rural and remote parts of Canada made the same promise.

For example, the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley, who has his eye on the big chair in the front row, said:

I have always said that when there was a clear opportunity to vote to scrap the long-gun registry I would do just that.

Someone who wants to be leader of the opposition needs to be honest and straightforward with Canadians, so I encourage the member to stand by his words when he votes tonight. The member will have a clear opportunity in a few short minutes.

Also, just a few short months ago in the most recent election, the member for Western Arctic stood in a church in downtown Yellowknife and in an all candidates debate told everyone, “Vote for me. Vote for the Conservatives. It's the same. We will both vote to end the long gun registry”.

I hope the member stands by his words tonight. He is right. The Conservatives will vote to end the long gun registry. As some of his colleagues on the other side found out last year, Canadians do have a long memory when it comes to broken promises. Canadians will not forget the promises that unfortunately were broken by their MPs.

Let us look at the facts. Whether it has been in coffee shops, in hockey arenas, over kitchen tables, or in the House of Commons, the debate on this issue has been going on for years and every side has been heard. Myths have been perpetuated, such as that the police use the long gun registry 17,000 times a day. That is beyond ridiculous. That myth has been corrected. We have heard time and time again in testimony that front-line officers do not use the registry. They cannot count on the data. It is a useless system. They know they cannot depend on it. They would rather see resources go to help them do their job.

Another myth is that the long gun registry is gun control and it stops crime and domestic violence. That myth is very disturbing to me. The long gun registry has nothing to do with gun control because it has no way of actually stopping individuals from acquiring firearms. Because of that, it cannot stop or intervene in domestic violence.

We need to speak honestly about gun crime, how people get guns, and why they should not have guns. We need to make sure we have laws that actually keep guns out of the hands of people who are dangerous. It is a myth which throughout the debate we have been able to straighten out.

We have discussed every angle of the long gun registry. Thankfully, everyone has had a chance to be heard. Canadians know where they stand on this issue. We believe it is behind us, their government. We believe this because every single Conservative candidate from downtown Vancouver to northern Manitoba, to the suburbs of Toronto, to the Maritimes stood and told Canadians that he or she believed the time had come to end the useless long gun registry. Because of that, Canadians gave us the strong mandate to keep our promises. That is exactly what we said we would do and that is exactly what we will do.

I encourage all members today to think about the wishes of their constituents. I encourage them to think about rural Canadians and those who live in remote parts of this country, Canadians who use their firearms every day as tools to do their work, whether that be on their farms or to hunt for food. As my colleagues have pointed out, these are law-abiding Canadians who are less likely to commit a crime with a gun than the rest of us who do not own firearms.

I encourage members to think about all of these people and the facts, and vote in support of ending the long gun registry once and for all. I look forward to this bill going to the other place and being passed into law as soon as possible.

It has been an honour and a privilege to stand up for the people of Portage—Lisgar, for law-abiding long gun owners in this country, and for the Conservative colleagues with whom I work.

Ending the Long-Gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

February 13th, 2012 / 4 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand in this House and add my voice to the debate on Bill C-19, the ending the long registry act.

This is not the first time that I have spoken on the topic of the gun registry. Over the last 11 years, this has been one of those issues that I have been able to lend my voice to perhaps as much as or more than many other issues. The reason I say that is, that in the 11 years that I have served as member of Parliament for Crowfoot, I do not know if I have heard from my constituents on any other issue more than I have heard from my constituents on the issue of the long gun registry.

Every once in a while we have the opportunity to stand on long-stated policy within our party, which is the case here. Other times, we can stand and debate based upon our own opinions and our own sense of right and wrong. Again, in this case, I am proud to say that I really believe the government is doing the right thing here.

However, what makes this case so special is that, although there is a handful of people from my riding who have contacted me basically issuing NDP form letters, the majority of people in my riding believe that the long gun registry has to be put to an end.

I am pleased to announce to them that it would appear we are on the home stretch of ridding Canada of this long-standing thorn in the sides of most people in the country. It is a thorn for a number of reasons. First is the high cost of developing and maintaining the registry but also the sense of property rights and the sense of being very invasive in that way.

I thank my colleague who sits in front of me, the member for Yorkton—Melville, for taking this issue and dealing with it for a long time, as well as former members of Parliament. I am thinking of individuals like Myron Thompson, Jack Ramsay and others who made this into a very strong cause because they knew what their constituents believed.

Since the long registry was put in place in 1995 by the previous Liberal regime, and continues today, we have witnessed exhaustive debates in this House and across the country on the issue. We have been able to host these types of discussions at town hall meetings in our constituencies and have debated it many times here in the House. We have heard about it from the media and from Canadians right across the country. People on both sides of the debate have been given ample time to discuss and contribute their opinions.

Furthermore, this is not the first time that our government has introduced similar legislation to eliminate the long gun registry. Since coming to power in 2006, our Conservative government has introduced three bills to repeal the long gun registry: in June 2006, in November 2007 and in April 2009. We also have seen two private members' bills introduced in this House that called for the same action. As has already been mentioned, the parliamentary secretary to the minister and member of Parliament Portage—Lisgar brought forward a very strong private member's bill, Bill C-391.

Suffice it to say that the historical record will show that there has been plenty of time for debate on this registry. Our policy is clear. As mentioned by the previous speaker, for the past six elections Canadians have known our stand on this issue.

It is unfair to suggest that our government is cutting off debate on this topic. It is clear that the issue of effective gun control is an important one and that is why we have seen such fiery and passionate debates on the long gun registry. Our government is firmly committed to effective gun control. However, what we are not committed to is a wasteful and ineffective long gun registry that pretends to be gun control.

I am confident that all members will agree that keeping our citizens safe is the paramount consideration of any government. I would suggest to the opposition that it would be very disingenuous to say that the government on this side does not believe in keeping our streets and our citizens safe in our communities and across this country.

I am also hopeful that all members are committed to the principles of balance and common sense. Ending the long gun registry is what this is all about. It is about ensuring we continue to preserve and enhance those measures that do work to reduce crime and protect Canadians. However, it is also about ensuring we do not unnecessarily penalize millions of honest, law-abiding citizens with rules that have little effect on crime prevention or on reducing gun crime but give some a feel safe attitude that is not warranted.

We need to look at what Bill C-19 would do. The legislation before us today would end the need for Canadians to register their non-restricted firearms, such as rifles and shotguns. We know for a fact that rifles and shotguns are commonly used by farmers, hunters and residents in rural Canada. They use these non-restricted firearms to protect their livestock, to hunt wild game or, in some cases, even among our first nations, earn a living.

We have been very clear in saying that Bill C-19 would not do away with the need for these individuals to obtain a proper licence for their long guns. They will still need a proper licence.

We have also been very clear in saying that Bill C-19 would not do away with the requirements for the owners of prohibited or restricted firearms, such as handguns, to obtain a registration certification, as well as a licence. That registry continues. The handgun will still be registered and it will still need a licence. Nothing will change in this respect. They will still be in charge of handling the registration of restricted and prohibited firearms, including all handguns and automatic firearms.

Under Bill C-19, all law-abiding Canadians would still need to go through a licensing procedure. Under Bill C-19, all law-abiding Canadians would still need to pass the required Canadian firearms safety exam in order to obtain a licence.

The leader of the Green Party was wondering if the safety courses would continue. Yes, that will still be necessary. Gun owners will still need to show that they are in compliance with proper firearms storage and transportation requirements. They will still need to pass a background check performed by the Chief Firearms Officer or their representatives who employ law enforcement systems and resources to ensure that people have never committed a serious criminal offence. If they have, they will not get the licence to own any type of firearm. They would also ensure that the individual in question does not have a history of mental illness associated with violence. If they did they could not have a firearm. They would also ensure people are not under a court sanctioned prohibition order for firearms and do not pose a threat to public safety.

While Bill C-19 would do away with the need for honest and law-abiding citizens to undergo the burden of registering their non-restricted rifles or shotguns, it would ensure that we keep the current licensing requirements for all gun owners.

The legislation would make another important change. It would allow for the destruction of all records related to the registration of non-restricted firearms. Some have claimed that destroying the long gun registration data is unnecessary, that it will eliminate all the data the long gun registry has. Others have suggested that we should simply divide up the data by the territory and ship it off to those jurisdictions so they can create their own long gun registry.

Both of those suggestions are non-starters. We are opposed to the long gun registry. We are not simply saying that we are opposed to our federal government administering it. We believe that it is invasive and that it is a waste of money. We believe that it is a non-effective way of fighting crime. For that reason, I stand in this place proud to speak in favour of Bill C-19, which would get rid of the long gun registry.

Ending the Long-Gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

February 13th, 2012 / 3:45 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Dean Allison Conservative Niagara West—Glanbrook, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Crowfoot.

It is with great pleasure that I rise today to acknowledge the nearing end of the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry. For too long, the voices of law-abiding hunters, sports shooters and farmers have not been heard.

It is fair to say that people have talked about the looming end of debate on this. However, when I ran in 2004, one of the things I committed to as a party member if elected was to end this ineffective long gun registry. If we look back to 2004, 2006, 2008 and then 2011, I would suggest that eight years has been more than enough time to debate this issue. Quite frankly, the debate started long before I arrived in 2004.

I do want to pay special tribute to the member for Yorkton—Melville, because it was with his help, diligence and hard work that the waste of this long gun registry was uncovered. He has long been a proponent of trying to deal with it. Therefore, I want to recognize him as I start my speech today.

Another person I want to recognize is my colleague, the member for Portage—Lisgar, who introduced private member's Bill C-391, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act (repeal of long-gun registry) two years ago. It was defeated by a mere two votes in our last parliament, against the express wishes of responsible Canadian gun owners.

Once again, although the opposition have suggested that we have not had a chance to discuss this issue, I can assure them and all Canadians that if they look at private members' bills and campaign promises like mine 2004, there has been plenty of debate on the issue. Today we are one step closer to renewing their faith in a Canada, that it will not discriminate against them simply for legally possessing a simple piece of property.

Members on this side of the House continue to move forward as a unit to abolish the registry, which only divides law-abiding Canadians. We are standing up for our constituents by eliminating red tape and putting money back where it belongs.

Since it was created, the long gun registry has cost Canadians close to $2 billion, as has been noted. The Auditor General mentioned that it was over $1 billion and that the costs have continued to rise. The net annual cost of the program alone for the 2010-11 fiscal year was $66.4 million. This money should instead be invested into putting more police on our streets, looking at trying to fight organized crime, introducing mandatory minimum penalties for serious gun crimes and combatting drug smuggling.

The long gun registry was never, nor could it ever be, a viable or valuable tool to help reduce gun crime in Canada. For example, the majority of homicides committed in all of Canada do not involve long guns at all. Statistics have shown that long guns are not the problem. In reality, they are not the weapons of choice for criminals. What good is a registry of legally owned long guns held by their law-abiding owners when it is very clear that the real problem is criminals acting outside of the law.

Unfortunately, gun crimes happen all too frequently. Yes, there have terrible incidents where dangerous people have used long guns to cause harm to others. However, there seems to be a misconception that by keeping the long gun registry we will somehow prevent these horrible things from happening. The truth is that these incidents happened despite the long gun registry being in place. Our government does believe that the right gun control laws save lives. Our government will continue to take action to make our streets and communities safer.

Canadians have given our government a strong mandate to do away with the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry. We have answered their cries in the form of Bill C-19, Ending the Long-gun Registry Act. Millions of dollars will now be better spent on more efficient and useful public safety tools. This means more front-line police officers and better resources for our men and women in uniform. It means better support for those who put their lives on the line to ensure the safety of the Canadian public. It is the bravery, selflessness and personal sacrifice of these men and women that prevent crimes from being committed, not the existence of an electronic database that identifies the law-abiding Canadians who own a long gun.

A database would not have stopped the tragedy at École Polytechnique. The man responsible was a criminal, not a law-abiding hunter or farmer. That is why we need police to make sure that criminals do not get their hands on guns, and not focus on a registry composed of law-abiding citizens. The guns used in crimes are not the legally owned hunting rifles or shotguns anyway. Crimes are committed with guns that come into this country, usually illegally. Furthermore, hunting and sports shooting are not crimes, so why should we stand behind a registry that has done nothing but make law-abiding gun owners feel like criminals? Why should they be subject to the same treatment as criminals who use illegal firearms to commit crimes?

The long gun registry alone does not make anyone safer. The long gun registry focuses on the issues of licensing and registering firearms, and there has been no evidence detailing if or how the registry's activities have helped minimize risks to public safety. There was, however, a survey conducted in August 2010 that revealed that 72% of Canadians believe the long gun registry has done nothing to prevent crime.

We have an ongoing gun crisis across Canada, including firearms-related homicides, and a law for registering firearms has neither deterred nor helped solve any of the crimes. None of the guns used were found to have been registered in the registry and more than half of them have been smuggled into Canada from the United States. In the words of the former Ontario provincial police commissioner and the current member for Vaughan:

We have an ongoing gun crisis including firearms-related homicides lately in Toronto, and a law registering firearms has neither deterred these crimes nor helped us solve any of them. None of the guns we know to have been used were registered, although we believe that more than half of them were smuggled into Canada from the United States. The firearms registry is long on philosophy and short on practical results considering the money could be more effectively used for security against terrorism as well as a host of other public safety initiatives.

My constituency office has received a countless number of letters asking us to do away with the long gun registry. I have personally received phone calls and had many people approach me supporting the abolition of the registry. Citizens across this great country have elected a strong, stable Conservative majority government and have asked us to abolish the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry, a process we are witnessing here today.

The issue of destroying the long gun registry's database remains contentious. One of the reasons we want to scrap this registry is that we do not believe that all of the data are even correct and we certainly do not want to enable provincial governments to move forward to make this happen. Once it is gone, it should be gone for good. Licensing information of registered weapons would be maintained and be available to police forces, but not in the manner these weapons were registered in the long gun registry.

The registry is not a valuable tool for combating crime. Many front-line police officers across Canada do not use the registry because they cannot count on it.

John Hicks, an Orillia area computer consultant and webmaster for the Canadian Firearms Centre, once said that anyone with a home computer can easily access names, addresses and detailed shopping lists, including the makes, models and serial numbers of registered guns belonging to licensed firearms owners. He also stated that despite the database costing some $15 million to develop, he managed to break into it within 30 minutes.

Our government stands with law-abiding farmers, duck hunters and rural Canadians in every region of this country. We have long opposed the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry and are now on the eve of its eradication. By eliminating the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry, we will instead focus our efforts and time on more effective measures to tackle crime and to protect families in communities.

I would like to extend an invitation to the opposition to vote with us in putting an end to the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry once and for all. We must stop the wasteful and ineffective registry. This is what the Canadian people have asked us to do. We have made Canadians a promise and we shall deliver on our promise.

Ending the Long-gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

February 13th, 2012 / 1:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Prince George--Peace River.

It is a privilege to contribute to this debate and to speak in support of Bill C-19, the ending the long-gun registry act.

My riding of Okanagan--Coquihalla is a very diverse one. There are large urban cities, such as Penticton and West Kelowna, resource communities like Merritt and Okanagan Falls, and many rural regions, such as Logan Lake, Meadow Valley, Faulder and Willowbrook. For rural residents, this is an issue of great importance to them. It is one that I hear about weekly, and sometimes even daily. They ask me when the government will fulfill its commitment to end the long gun registry and why has it taken so long. I expect that I am not the only member of the House to get these kinds of questions.

I believe it is important to share with the House the frustration that I hear from the rural residents in my riding. They are law-abiding citizens and they are taxpayers, and yet they are forced to comply with a system created out of Ottawa that does nothing but inconvenience the lifestyle they work hard to enjoy.

Everyone in the House knows that criminals do not register their guns. It is often a repeated point in this debate but it is the truth. However, more important, we need to recognize that there are times when a registered gun is used to take a life. Recently, in my riding, a family lost a loved one as a result of domestic violence. Did the registered gun stop the alleged murderer from pulling the trigger? Sadly, it did not. For those people in society who are capable of taking a life, the fact that a gun may or may not be registered means nothing to them. The simple fact of the matter is that the long gun registry has not stopped crime, nor is it saving lives.

I have also listened to the opposition arguments in favour of the long gun registry. The opposition suggests that its greatest contribution is that it provides law enforcement with a record of where guns are, and not just where they are but what kinds of guns they are.

Those who followed the committee hearings for Bill C-391 last year will know that members heard testimony from numerous respected and experienced police officers. Those experienced officers told us that the information provided by the long gun registry was not reliable. I have met with many front-line officers who have made it very clear that they cannot rely on the registry to confirm if a gun may or may not be at that address. In fact, if officers were to rely solely on the long gun registry, they would be putting their life and the life of their colleagues at risk.

We also know that there are long guns that have never been registered and those that have not been registered properly, and situations where model numbers or catalogue numbers were used instead of serial numbers.

The long gun registry has been in place for over a decade. What are the results? The registry has not stopped crime, nor has it saved lives. Millions of dollars were spent on the registry and what are the results for the taxpayers? We have a database that front-line officers tell us that they cannot depend on.

I understand that most members of the opposition choose to ignore how this registry has adversely impacted many taxpayers in rural Canada. However, I will recognize the opposition members for Thunder Bay—Rainy River and Thunder Bay—Superior North who have to date respected the wishes of their constituents.

This has been a difficult issue for many members of the opposition who come from rural ridings. It does not need to be difficult. Admitting that the long gun registry has been a failure is not an opinion, it is a fact. Rural Canadians know it and residents in my riding, who live in communities like Merritt, Logan Lake and Okanagan Falls, know it as well.

One of the challenges that many communities in my region are facing is an overpopulation of deer. On the surface it may not seem like a problem, however, deer destroy small gardens and can be aggressive to small animals and even adults. They also present a real danger to motorists. The reality is that fewer people are hunting these days, in part because of the burden and costs of dealing with issues like the long gun registry. In my riding, many residents have told me that they feel the quality of life in rural Canada is threatened. That is why I believe it is important we take action on their issue.

On May 2 of last year, Canadians made it clear that they were supporting a platform that would put an end to the wasteful spending of tax dollars on failed programs like the long gun registry. Therefore, let us instead work together on more effective gun control, like the requirement for people to have a licence before they can buy a rifle or a shotgun. We also need to ensure that before people get a licence they need to pass the Canadian firearms safety course. We also need to ensure that before people get a licence to own a rifle or a shotgun they must pass a background check. A background check involves things like a criminal record check and ensures that people are not under a court order prohibiting them from possessing a firearm.

I am proud to say that our government is now investing $7 million a year to make the screening process for people applying for a firearm's licence stronger. Bill C-19 would not change any of those requirements. In fact, no one would be able to buy a firearm of any kind without passing the Canadian firearms safety course, the background check and without having a proper licence.

I support the bill because it would eliminate a law that places an unnecessary burden on law-abiding Canadians. The bill would also free up resources that could be better spent on anti-crime initiatives to help make our streets safer.

We need to be honest with ourselves about the real gun problem in Canada. It is not just the legally acquired shotguns and rifles in the hands of our farmers and hunters that is the problem. While we continue to penalize them, it may seem like a solution to some members opposite, but doing so does not stop crime. A failed registry and a flawed database is not an answer.

Between 2005 and 2009, police in Canada recovered 253 firearms that had been used in the commission of a homicide. Some of those guns were registered, most were not. However, we need recognize that the registry failed 253 times to prevent crime, much as it failed in my riding last year. As a result, I cannot support a process that requires law-abiding, tax paying citizens to continue to dump money into a system that offers no tangible results.

Does it really makes sense to the opposition to continue to penalize rural taxpayers who often legally purchase a rifle for the protection of livestock or hunting game with family and friends? The long gun registry continues to penalize these citizens and yet it does nothing to address any of the real problems. We do have some real problems, such as the flow of illicit firearms being smuggled into Canada, and the firearms that are used as a commodity for criminal purposes.

I am convinced that we all want to reduce crime, especially gun crime, but the long gun registry is a failure and it is time we respect rural Canadians and admit it. That is why I speak in support Bill C-19. We need to invest in programs that are effective and eliminate those that do nothing.

Motions in AmendmentEnding the Long-Gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

February 6th, 2012 / 1:40 p.m.
See context

Portage—Lisgar Manitoba

Conservative

Candice Bergen ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, I find the member's comments quite interesting. The member has a habit of assigning a nickname to just about everyone in the House. I think the flipper dipper might be appropriate for that one. He very obviously told his constituents time after time that he would vote to end the long gun registry. This bill does exactly that. In fact, my Bill C-391 did that.

He turned his back on his constituents. He turned his back on rural Canadians and on law-abiding Canadians. I wonder if the member, the flipper who flipped his mind, could please tell his constituents why he changed his mind and why he did not stand up for those people who voted for him?

Motions in AmendmentEnding the Long-Gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

February 6th, 2012 / 1:05 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is the second time that I have risen in this House to speak about this bill. Clearly, the first time was at second reading.

If I had to give my speech a title, I would call it “A Mistake that Will Haunt us for Years to Come”.

I believe that the decision to abolish the firearms registry is a mistake. I participated in committee hearings where we heard from a number of witnesses on both sides. I am now more convinced than ever that we are making the wrong decision.

In the 10 minutes that I have this morning, I would like to speak more specifically about certain amendments that others moved today in this House, some of which are practically identical to those I moved at committee on behalf of my party.

Before I begin, I would like to point out two things that I found a bit disturbing about the context in which the debate took place. I mentioned one of them earlier in my question to the hon. member for Yukon, and that is the fact that we learned, following the testimony of a number of committee witnesses and as a result of a question on the order paper, that some of these witnesses had been members of the minister's firearms advisory committee.

I do not know whether you agree, Mr. Speaker, but to me, an advisory committee is a group of people with a variety of opinions on a subject, some of whom may have technical expertise on the issue, which the government consults in an attempt to achieve consensus. An advisory committee is not a club of cronies that the government stacks with party supporters. I think that the minister's firearms advisory committee looks more like a bunch of cronies than a real advisory committee that tries to examine an issue thoroughly.

I thought transparency was lacking. When the witnesses appeared, we were given to believe that they had no ties to government, that they were independent. Naturally, we would have responded differently to their testimony had we known that they were operating hand in hand with the minister.

Then there is the RCMP's annual report on the Canadian firearms program. Quite a trend has been developing over the past few years. The report seems to have been published at inconvenient times for those who are against dismantling the gun registry. For example, the 2007 report was published at the end of August 2008, which is reasonable, but the 2008 report was given to the minister on October 9, 2009, and published after the vote at second reading of Bill C-391, a private member's bill sponsored by the member for Portage—Lisgar that sought to dismantle the gun registry. The 2009 report was published on October 14, and the 2010 report was just published on January 19, well after the committee's hearings on Bill C-19 and well after the vote at second reading held last fall.

I would like to talk about a couple of amendments that were presented today that mirror the amendments that I presented in the name of the Liberal Party at committee.

The first was an amendment to ensure that the data would be saved. The hon. member for Yukon neglected to mention that in the province of Quebec, no mandate was given to the Conservative government to destroy the data. To make the people of Quebec pay again for basically the same data would be a form of double taxation. The Conservative government would be guilty of double taxing the people of Quebec. The people of Quebec have already paid to create the database for the registry. If they wanted to maintain the service of that registry, they would have to pay again. That is not quite fair from a fiscal point of view.

Second, doing away with the database would not only violate the spirit of the Library and Archives of Canada Act but the letter of that act as well. That is why Bill C-19 would have to amend the Library and Archives of Canada Act in order to get rid of the data as soon as possible.

The Library and Archives of Canada Act is important for maintaining records that are critical for the functioning of a democracy. It is central to the idea of access to government information by the people of Canada. Bill C-19 would not require the government to obtain the opinion of the national archivist before rushing to destroy the data.

Suzanne Legault the Information Commissioner said the following at committee:

--destroying records on this scale without first obtaining the consent of the archivist, as required by section 12 of the Library and Archives of Canada Act, not only modifies the existing records management system, which seeks to ensure transparency and accountability in the disposal of such records, but in my view also seems contrary to the Federal Court's decision in Bronskill.

--In that case... Justice Noël stated that the Access to Information Act and the Library of Archives of Canada Act are inextricably linked, such that “Parliament considers access to information in Canada and document retention as essential components of citizens' right to government information”.

To destroy the data would be a very unfortunate thing.

In terms of the transfer of firearms in Canada, I agree that the bill would create a dangerous situation. It would essentially take away all supervision of the transfer of firearms, either by gun shop owners or by individuals trying to sell weapons by phone or over the Internet, whichever way they deemed desirable. For example, it would not be necessary for someone selling a weapon, and that could be over the Internet, to check whether the purchaser had a firearms acquisition certificate. This would be problematic.

The bill says that in the vendor's mind, he or she should be certain that the person buying the weapon has a firearms acquisition certificate. But that could mean anything. That would not necessarily lead someone to check. They could call the registrar to find out, if they wanted to go through the inconvenience. However, the registrar would not have to keep a record of that call. If there were a problem down the road, such as a crime, we would not be able to go to the registrar to help with the investigation.

My colleagues opposite will probably say that firearms owners are responsible citizens. I would agree with that statement. I said it in my speech at second reading. The people I know in my community who own firearms are the most sterling members of the community. They are volunteers. They are ideal citizens. This is not to impugn people who own firearms.

I would like to give the House an example of how we are leaving the process of transferring firearms wide open. The mayor of New York City asked his officials to investigate how firearms are transferred. In the United States, if people are transferring a firearm, through Craigslist for example, they have to check whether the prospective buyer has the right to own a firearm. The process is a little stricter than it would be under this law. It was found that in, I think, 62% of cases, people disposing of firearms through the Internet or any other way would not bother checking, even when the prospective buyer said, “Look, you really shouldn't sell it to me, I may not get through the check”.

Motions in AmendmentEnding the Long-Gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

February 6th, 2012 / 12:50 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Ryan Leef Conservative Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak again to Bill C-19, the ending the long gun registry act.

In my last speech on this bill, I talked about what role long guns play in Canadians' lives in both rural and urban settings, for women and for men. They are tools for hunting, tools for trapping, tools for farming, and tools for athletics. I talked about how they constitute a symbol of our past and indeed remain a necessary tool in present day life for so many Canadians. First nation, aboriginal and all law-abiding gun owners have been stigmatized and subjected to this onerous and misguided legislation for far too long.

Since the second reading of Bill C-19, the opposition has not lacked in emotion but has consistently fallen short on the facts. Here are the facts. The long gun registry does nothing to make Canadians safer. We were told the long gun registry would cost about $2 million, and the cost has ballooned to exceed $2 billion. The long gun registry targets law-abiding citizens because criminals are not registering guns, nor are they using these sorts of guns to commit crimes.

I would like to introduce members to what I call the seven myths of the opposition. If any of my hon. colleagues would like to count along with me, they would be more than welcome to do so.

Myth number one is that the long gun registry will help keep suicide rates down.

During committee, of which I was a member, we heard clear evidence from peer-reviewed studies which concluded that the discontinuation of the registration of non-restricted firearms is not likely to result in an increase in the aggregate suicide rate.

Myth number two is that the long gun registry will keep women safer.

During committee we heard peer-reviewed research which demonstrated that the discontinuation of the registration of non-restricted firearms will not result in an increase in homicide or spousal homicide rates through the utilization of long guns.

This only makes sense because the people registering long guns are not committing these crimes. These are men and women who are impeded by the red tape and the stigma of being long gun owners. They do their civic duty, despite the unnecessary and wasteful burden imposed, and register their firearms because their government tells them it is the law. Meanwhile, criminals do not do any of this and enjoy the freedom to operate outside of the law with all the rights and protections of the law. This does not make sense to people in my riding, and it does not make sense to me.

The opposition attempts to position the debate on long guns as men against women, and offender and victim. At committee we heard directly from women, women who hunt, women who trap, women who have represented our great nation in international shooting competitions. The opposition would like Canadians to believe it is only men who own guns, and this is simply not the case.

Myth number three is that guns will now be as easy to get as checking out a book at a library.

The opposition is ignoring the facts and misleading people who do not own long guns and who are not familiar with the process. I can tell Canadians, as can any long gun owner, that the requirements for licensing are not changing and include a Canadian firearms safety course, and for some, additional hunter safety and ethics development courses, and of course pre-screening security background checks.

Myth number four is that police support the registry and the elimination of the registry will put police in danger.

Here is what we heard from law enforcement officers:

I can tell you that the registration of long guns did not make my job as a conservation officer safer.

That was said by Donald Weltz at committee.

We also heard in committee that a survey conducted in April 2011 of 2,631 Edmonton city police concluded that 81% supported scrapping the long gun registry. We heard that the Auditor General found that the RCMP could not rely on the registry on account of the large number of errors and omissions. We heard numerous times that the police state they do not trust the information contained in the registry and they would not rely on that information to ensure their safety.

Myth number five is that the data should be saved and turned over to the provinces that wish to create their own registry.

The registry is the data. Our commitment to the Canadian people was clear that anything less would be disingenuous. The data was collected under federal law for a federal purpose and it will not be turned over to another jurisdiction.

The committee heard evidence that the RCMP had reported error rates between 43% and 90% in firearms applications and registry information. We also heard that a manual search conducted discovered that 4,438 stolen firearms had been successfully re-registered. With these errors, it would be irresponsible to the extreme to allow this unreliable, ineffective and grossly expensive system to be handed over to anyone.

Myth No. 6: Registering a long gun is no different from registering a car. What did we hear in committee on this assumption? Solomon Friedman accurately stated that unlike registering our car, failure to comply or errors in the application have criminal implications. People do not go to jail or receive a criminal record if they do not register their car.

Myth No. 7: Registering a firearm is simple, so what is the harm? Again, the harm is that any mistake has criminal implications, and the mistakes in the registry are staggering.

Furthermore, consider more testimony from Mr. Friedman:

I have two law degrees. I clerked at the Supreme Court of Canada, and I practise criminal law for a living. Even I at times find the provisions of the Firearms Act and the gun control portions of the Criminal Code convoluted, complex, and confusing.

If that is the case, how can we expect average Canadians to navigate this quagmire without error and how can we have criminal consequences as a result? How can we expect our law enforcement officers to interpret and apply complex and convoluted legislation with discretion and consistency if a criminal lawyer well-versed and studied on the subject matter finds it difficult at times?

I will highlight the conclusions of Gary Mauser, PhD, Professor Emeritus at the Institute for Canadian Urban Research Studies, Simon Fraser University, when he accurately pointed out that “responsible gun owners are less likely to” commit murder “than other Canadians”. He went on to say that the long gun had not demonstrated its value to the police and that “the data in the long-gun registry are of such poor quality that they should be destroyed”.

That is exactly what would happen.

Our government has made a clear commitment. Promise made, promise kept. We know we are on the right track. How do we know this? Two years ago, my hon. colleague, the member for Portage—Lisgar, introduced a private member's bill, Bill C-391. If that bill had passed, it would have ended the long gun registry but it was defeated in this House by a mere two votes. However, those were not free votes. Members turned their backs on their constituents for fear of reprisal from their party. Some stated publicly that they were in favour of scrapping the registry but were not willing to leave their party over it or be removed from it. The only reason the long gun registry has survived this long is that members picked their parties over their constituents. Canadians remembered that last May.

How else do we know we are on the course? Evidence in the committee, as I have already mentioned, was overwhelmingly in favour of getting rid of the long gun registry, and that was empirical evidence, not opinion evidence. Members from the opposition, the members for Thunder Bay—Rainy River and Thunder Bay—Superior North, voted in favour of Bill C-19 but were punished for it. They were punished for doing what their constituents wanted. I congratulate them for that decision. The member for Western Arctic abstained from the second reading vote. One can only hope that the member will remember his commitments to the great people of the Northwest Territories and that he chooses them and choose facts over the hysteria and hyperbole running rampant through the opposition benches.

Regardless, I can tell the citizens of Yukon, NWT and Nunavut that this member and the hon. member for Nunavut will be standing up for their rights and their use of long guns as daily tools to practise traditional, cultural and present day necessities of life by standing up and voting to end the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry once and for all.

January 31st, 2012 / 3:55 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

It's not central to my point. I apologize.

But the issue here is that it was released after second reading debate on Bill C-19. It was released after this committee finished amending Bill C-19. The same thing happened when Parliament was debating Ms. Hoeppner's bill, Bill C-391. I just find it odd that the reports are coming out later and later and they seem to be timed in a political fashion.

I'd like you to give us a bit of background on why it was released so late when it obviously was prepared a long time before, because it had former Commissioner Elliott's signature appended to it.

November 29th, 2011 / 11:10 a.m.
See context

NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I have a good idea about what's coming, but we will still repeat that clause 11 of the bill, as drafted, contains a major gap, which means that we could easily lose control. In fact, I'm going to praise my colleague, Ms. Hoeppner, because I think her bill was better than this one. It did fully cover this gap.

The study of Bill C-19 is going to leave me with a great deal of concern, a concern that was expressed to this committee by many witnesses, including victims of the École polytechnique and Dawson College, the people involved with centres for abused women, and so on. There's a danger that, at some point, over the course of the transactions, we may no longer know who owns the firearm in question.

I repeat that the wording of Bill C-391 was much better in this regard. The NDP and I find it unfortunate that what was in Bill C-391 was not put into Bill C-19 to fill that gap.

November 29th, 2011 / 11:05 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Thank you, Chair.

Essentially, this amendment seeks to require that if someone transfers a gun through a sale or purchase--a sale specifically--to another individual, the individual selling the gun or transferring the gun would be required to verify the validity of the transferee's licence with the Canada Firearms Centre. So really, this is essentially reinstating, as I understand it, a very similar clause that appeared in Ms. Hoeppner's Bill C-391, where it says:

in the case of a transfer to an individual, the transferor verifies the validity of the transferee’s Firearms Licence with the Canada Firearms Centre, and obtains a reference number for the inquiry.

We've heard all along that there are two separate unrelated issues here. There's the issue of the registry and the issue of the firearms acquisition certificate. But we've also seen that there's a big disconnect, because there's no real requirement to check that the person has a valid firearms acquisition certificate. So this attempts to reconnect the two, Chair.

November 17th, 2011 / 11:55 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I want to welcome the minister and the other witnesses.

The Conservative government is claiming that it has the mandate to destroy the registry data because it was elected by a majority. However, unless I am mistaken—and I did follow the last election campaign quite closely—their platform made no mention of destroying the registry data. In addition, Ms. Hoeppner's Bill C-391, which was debated in the House not too long before the election was called, did not seek to have the registry database destroyed. I want to add that, in Quebec, Conservatives received no mandate—far from it. They actually lost seats.

Minister, do you feel that the federal Conservative government has the moral right to destroy a collective asset paid for by Quebec's taxpayers?

November 17th, 2011 / 11:20 a.m.
See context

Diana Cabrera Administration Manager, Canadian Shooting Sports Association

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I would like to thank you and the members of this committee for inviting my colleague and me to present our members' point of view on Bill C-391 and to answer any questions you may have in this regard.

My name is Diana Cabrera. I'm an international competitor shooter. Although I'm Canadian, I currently compete for the Uruguay national team, as Canada refuses to pay my training expenses.

I would like to say that we fully support the purpose changes in this bill. These changes also aid the pledged goal of a system that is effective in concentrating precious resources where they belong and is focused on the criminal misuse of firearms, not on responsible licensed firearm owners.

The challenge of obtaining the public safety goals of the firearms legislation depends largely on a number of firearms issues and the cooperation of those most affected by the legislation. These issues are major concerns: the fear of confiscation, the perceived social stigma of firearm ownership and its demonization, and the many costs and burdensome processes involved.

The bill will greatly aid in rebuilding the bond of trust that existed before its erosion by overzealous legislators aiming at the wrong target. Maximum compliance for firearms legislation is dependent on addressing these concerns.

At this point, I would like to focus on the effect of long-gun registration on sport competitors and other legitimate users. There is no question that the long-gun registry has deterred individuals from entering the shooting sports. Many believe that this was one of its original intentions. The inclusion of specialized air target and muzzle-loading firearms in the registry seems predetermined to achieve those goals. These firearms are virtually never used in crime by the nature of their physical makeup and cost, yet they are treated with the same legislative zeal as more common firearms.

Across the world, exemptions have been made in law for these types of firearms. In Britain and the United States, the ownership and use of these firearms is much less regulated than in Canada. Many are not even considered to be firearms and are subject to almost no regulation, as misuse is very rare, yet in Canada these firearms must be registered and are subject to the same regulatory restrictions as other firearms.

These regulations entail long and confusing paperwork for international competitors and also present huge challenges to our junior shooters, who are not permitted to own airguns producing a velocity of more than 152.4 metres per second. This situation often leads to an adult or coach having to go through all the steps to purchase a junior competitor's competition firearm. They cannot leave the junior competitor in sole possession of the firearm; therefore, coaches and junior competitors must take responsibility for the regulatory care of these firearms while they are in use by the junior competitor.

Around the world, living history events such as re-enacting and cowboy action shootings are fast-growing activities. Re-enactors participate using authentic period costumes in re-enacting famous battles and other events, using period firearms, from muzzle-loaders to the World War II period. Cowboy action shooting is similar, but also involves shooting skill with an historical western bent.

The main issue for competitive participants is the fear of imminent criminality. They may easily find themselves afoul of uninformed law enforcement or CBSA officers, even if all paperwork is in order. Any paperwork error may lead to temporary detention, missed flights, missed shooting matches, and confiscation of property. I experience a primal cringe every time I am asked for my papers, as I fear what might happen when officers apply personal interpretation to our confusing laws.

Law enforcement and media coverage of firearm issues have made the situation even worse. Firearm owners are subjected to spectacular press coverage in which reporters tirelessly describe small and very ordinary collections of firearms as an “arsenal”. During the recent blitz in Toronto, police used old computer records to track down ordinary people who had simply failed to renew their paperwork. They described the operation as “getting guns off the street” and a triumph for the long-gun registry, as if they were preventing a crime.

If ever there was a case for destroying the old records, this is it. How do you think this makes a legal firearms owner feel? Am I next? Did I forget some nuance of my paperwork that will bring police to my door? Will my face wind up on the 6 o'clock news vilifying me to my friends, family, and co-workers? Will I be shunned if anyone finds out I own firearms? Will I be targeted at a traffic checkpoint if a CPIC verification says I possess firearms? Firearm owners live with these fears every day, all to justify a failed system that never prevented a crime.

In conclusion, let's please restart this from a clean slate, concentrate on more productive public safety areas of the legislation, and redirect funding to more beneficial areas to help make Canada a safer place for all.

Thank you. I will now pass on this presentation to my colleague.

Firearms RegistryOral Questions

November 15th, 2011 / 2:30 p.m.
See context

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, that is rich coming from a member who voted against increasing penalties for those who imported firearms into this country illegally.

In respect of the analysis presented by the officials, it is misleading. It is flawed. Contrary to the suggestion made in the analysis, neither Bill C-19 nor the previous Bill C-391 remove any controls on the import of firearms.

Canadians gave our government a strong mandate to end the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry once and for all, and that is exactly what we are doing.