The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-346 under Private Members' Business.
Bob Zimmer Conservative
Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)
This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.
This enactment amends the Firearms Act to eliminate the expiry of certain firearms licences and to provide for the relinquishment of licences. It also requires individuals to update their licence application information every 10 years and provides for the suspension of licences in certain circumstances.
Firearms ActPrivate Members' Business
November 8th, 2017 / 7:05 p.m.
The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan
The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-346 under Private Members' Business.
The House resumed from November 7 consideration of the motion that Bill C-346, An Act to amend the Firearms Act (licences), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Firearms ActPrivate Members' Business
November 7th, 2017 / 6 p.m.
Larry Miller Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand here today. I have to comment on my two hon. colleagues across the way. I respect them as members of Parliament. However, good Lord, when one does not understand a topic like this, one should not be speaking to it. It is very clear that neither of them does. There were comments in there that have nothing whatsoever to do with this bill. The mindset over there just baffles me.
I am very pleased to have the opportunity today to discuss Bill C-346, a bill to amend the Firearms Act with respect to licences. It is a common-sense piece of legislation that has been put forward by my hon. colleague from Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies. He knows what this issue is. It is not hard to fix. I wish the people on the other side of the aisle would get a grasp on it.
To begin, I would like to commend my colleague for bringing this forward and for the tireless work he does for law-abiding firearms owners in Canada. He truly understands the issues that firearms owners face, and his bringing this legislation forward certainly reflects that.
I am hopeful that the government will finally stop the attack on law-abiding firearms owners in this country. Last year I brought forward legislation that could have closed a loophole that allowed the RCMP firearms program to make arbitrary firearms classifications. Like Bill C-346, my bill was a very common-sense measure that simply would have given a legal definition to the term “variant”, a term used close to 100 times in regulations related to firearms. Unfortunately, the government could not bring itself to side with law-abiding firearms owners and do the right thing. It is my hope that, this time around, common sense will prevail.
This legislation is certainly very timely. This week, deer hunters across Ontario are gearing up and heading out to their deer stands, waiting for the perfect buck to stroll into plain sight.
In fact, Mr. Speaker, you know me, and if I were not here in Ottawa today, I think you know where you would find me.
I can assure the House that law-abiding firearms owners accept that they need to be licensed. That is not an issue. However, the last thing that hunters and law-abiding firearms owners want to be thinking about when they are out in the bush is the expiry of their firearms licences. This legislation would help to ease the minds of law-abiding hunters, anglers, and sports shooters so they can get back to what they love.
This legislation would do three key things that would improve Canada's firearms licensing system.
First and foremost, Bill C-346 would eliminate the expiry of firearms licences, with a mandatory provision that the licence holder must update his or her information every 10 years. This is simply a common-sense measure that would solve a problem faced by Canadian firearms owners every day.
Going back to my colleagues across the way, they both mentioned the fact that 10 years was too much and that public safety would go to hell in a handbasket. If we look at passports, we see they have to be renewed every 10 years. I know that the colleagues across the way support that. Public safety is involved in passport applications as well, because of illegal entry or otherwise, and that is accepted. However, when it comes to firearms owners, those scary, bad, firearms owners, it just blows me away. I really took exception to the last speaker when she basically said that we are at risk of firearms owners going out and shooting people. It just shows a clear lack of knowledge and understanding when it comes to this issue.
Bill C-346 would eliminate the expiry of a firearms licence, with a mandatory provision that the licence holder must update that information every 10 years. This is simply a common-sense measure that would solve a problem faced every day by us Canadian firearms owners. Furthermore, it reflects the reality of the RCMP's continuous eligibility system. Every single day, the RCMP firearms program verifies the validity and conditions of licence requirements of licence holders across Canada.
Second, the bill also proposes to create a mechanism to ensure that updates are in fact provided every 10 years, just like with passports. Through Bill C-346, if individuals did not update their information with the RCMP firearms program after 10 years, their licence would be suspended.
The suspension would prohibit the licencee from being able to make purchases, but would not go as far as to criminalize the licencee for simply an administrative error. The suspension would be lifted as soon the licencee provided the necessary update.
This provision would ensure compliance with the licensing system, but would not criminalize firearms owners simply because they have forgotten to update their licence. This is, again, a common-sense measure.
Finally, Bill C-346 would also allow for the relinquishment of licences. It would create an environment in which someone who no longer desires a firearms licence could voluntarily relinquish their licence to a chief firearms officer with no negative consequences. This is another common-sense measure. My father-in-law actually went through this a few years ago, prior to his passing.
Now, I want to take some time to speak to why Bill C-346 is necessary, and why it is good news not only for firearms owners, but for the RCMP firearms program, and for Canadians in general. I know not all members in this place own firearms, but as a law-abiding firearms owner, I know the provisions in Bill C-346 go a long way in easing the tensions between firearms owners and the RCMP firearms program when it comes to licensing.
Time and time again, firearms owners have felt personally criminalized for simple administrative errors. In 2014, our Conservative government passed the Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act. The act created a six-month grace period when a firearms licence expired to ensure that firearms owners would not feel criminalized for administrative errors. This bill goes even further and truly solves this problem once and for all. Essentially, when a firearms licence expires, the RCMP firearms program deems the person to be in possession of an illegal firearm.
I would like to cite the Criminal Code to demonstrate to the House just exactly what this could mean for a firearm owner with an expired licence. The Criminal Code says, “every person commits an offence who possesses a prohibited firearm, a restricted firearm or a non-restricted firearm without being the holder of (a) a licence under which the person may possess it”. In terms of punishment, the Criminal Code states that anyone in violation of the section above is “guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years; or (b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction”.
Five years for failing to renew on time. This is why there is so much angst among firearms owners when it comes to licensing. Under this system, the moment a licence is expired, firearms owners face the possibility of not only losing their property but facing up to five years in prison. The elimination of expiry would go a long way in creating a system that is respectful of firearms owners, which will in turn make firearms owners respectful of the system. It is truly a win-win situation.
Furthermore, this would decrease the administrative burden on the RCMP firearms program. There would be fewer administrative tasks to deal with, such as numerous renewals. Attention could then be paid to tasks that would truly make the system even safer. Imagine, less bureaucracy. What a concept.
I would like to say to my hon. colleagues across the way that this is truly a common-sense piece of legislation that would not only maintain the safety of Canada's firearms licensing system but would in fact enhance it. By creating a licensing system that is respectful of firearms owners, we would in turn see a greater appreciation of the licensing system, rather than distrust and angst from firearms owners.
I know the government has made a number of promises related to firearms in Canada. These are promises I would certainly like to see the government break. The promises made in the 2015 campaign do not reflect the reality of Canada's firearms safety regime. This legislation does.
I urge my colleagues across the way not to listen to all the talking points coming out of the PMO, to do the right thing on this and support Bill C-346.
Firearms ActPrivate Members' Business
November 7th, 2017 / 5:50 p.m.
Julie Dabrusin Liberal Toronto—Danforth, ON
Mr. Speaker, today I rise to speak about Bill C-346. For those who have just joined us, Bill C-346 amends the Firearms Act to eliminate the expiration of firearms licences for those over the age of 18. It essentially makes licences valid for life, only requiring an update of information every 10 years, with a penalty of a licence suspension if the information is not updated.
The current legislation requires owners of firearms to renew their licence every five years. As part of the process, they must update the information relevant to their licence eligibility. I will discuss this in further detail, but at this point I would like to clearly state that this does not seem like an overly onerous requirement to balance against the requirement and responsibility of having a firearms licence.
I believe everyone in this place can agree that we want to keep firearms out of the hands of people who could be dangerous. Our safety and the safety of our communities is paramount. Canadians, including my constituents, want to live in a country with effective gun regulations.
Millions of Canadians lawfully and responsibly own firearms. Responsible firearms owners understand why it is important for firearms to be kept out of the wrong hands. As of Sunday, the Toronto police showed that 324 shootings had occurred in the city of Toronto this year, including 26 shootings in my community.
Canadians understand the importance of doing everything to combat gun crime and to keep communities safe. This includes keeping firearms out of the hands of individuals who can be dangerous. At the heart of this is the fact that whenever we talk about guns, we need to focus on responsible gun ownership and the safety of our communities.
Our government believes in an effective approach that prioritizes public safety while respecting law-abiding firearms owners. The fundamental principle of the Firearms Act is ensuring public safety. Bill C-346 disturbs the balance, and for that reason, I cannot support this bill.
First, I cannot support the primary premise of this bill, which appears to be that the current requirements that a firearms owner renew their licence every five years is too onerous. I talk all the time with my kids about privileges and responsibilities, that when we have certain privileges, we must accept the responsibilities that come along with those privileges. For example, many Canadians have the privilege of driving a car. We all accept that that this privilege comes with the responsibility of driving the cars responsibly, and of renewing licences to ensure that the driver continues to meet the eligibility requirements, including whether or not the driver still meets the eyesight requirements?
That is the idea. Under the current legislation, every five years a responsible firearms owner must renew their licence. They update the information relevant to their licence eligibility. A renewal notice is sent to licensees about 90 days prior to expiry, and they have a six-month grace period if, for some reason, the licence is not renewed within that timeline.
The licence renewal forms can be completed online, and the cost is $60 for five years. Does this sound too onerous a responsibility for maintaining and fulfilling the obligations of having the privilege of maintaining lawful firearms ownership? It does not to me.
What I cannot understand is the problem that the member across the way wants to address. I can understand that we would want to see people update their information and to keep their eligibility information current. I cannot accept that we would be promoting responsible firearm ownership, or keeping our communities safe, by taking away this renewal every five years.
We can all logically understand the principle behind license renewals. Circumstances change, and we can all understand that an individual might qualify for a firearms license at one point but in the future might not meet the requirements. Under the current regime the information collected every five years is critical to protecting the public. It is an invaluable tool for the chief firearms officers, who review the information to determine whether there are safety risks associated with allowing an individual continued lawful access to firearms.
One of the most critical parts of the current five-year licence information update is what information can be investigated under section 55 of the Firearms Act to determine whether an applicant is eligible to hold a licence. Subsection 55(1) states:
A chief firearms officer or the Registrar may require an applicant for a licence or authorization to submit such information, in addition to that included in the application, as may reasonably be regarded as relevant for the purpose of determining whether the applicant is eligible to hold the licence or authorization.
Subsection 55(2) states:
Without restricting the scope of the inquiries that may be made with respect to an application for a licence, a chief firearms officer may conduct an investigation of the applicant, which may consist of interviews with neighbours, community workers, social workers, individuals who work or live with the applicant, spouse or common-law partner, former spouse or former common-law partner, dependants or whomever in the opinion of the chief firearms officer may provide information pertaining to whether the applicant is eligible under section 5 to hold a licence.
A firearms licence holder's personal situation, including mental health, employment, and marital status, can change numerous times in a 10-year period. By moving the requirement to update the chief firearms officer every 10 years, it will make it more difficult to determine all the factors in a person's changing life.
I also would like to address a specific part of the renewal eligibility requirements that should be emphasized and viewed through a gender-based analysis. One aspect of licence renewal eligibility concerns the owner's role in domestic violence. The key part of the five-year licence information update is that current or former partners of an individual may be contacted about concerns regarding extending the privilege of that person to acquire a firearm and to continue with his or her licence.
A 2011 Statistics Canada report on family violence in Canada found that from 2001 to 2009, in 53% of spousal murder-suicides, the cause of death was shooting. According to the RCMP 2015 Commissioner of Firearms report, in 2015, almost 400,000 new or renewed individual licenses were issued, and 688 applications were refused. Of these refusals, 40 were because of domestic violence.
I am proud that our government has adopted Canada's first gender-based violence strategy. Taking that into account, and the fact that women who leave an abusive spouse are at particular risk of violence, it seems reasonable to me that we have a system that allows for this factor to be reviewed every five years. I should add that domestic violence can be the basis for a licence to be revoked if an issue arises before the five-year renewal, but every five years, we have a chance to review.
I would add that 112 of the refusals were because of mental health, 203 refusals were because there was a concern that a person would be a danger to him or herself, and 132 refusals were because there was a concern that a person would be a danger to others. The refusals were just a handful of the new and renewed licences issued, as we would hope and expect. However, can we not all agree that it is better for us to remove the privilege that comes with a firearms licence from a person who is involved in domestic violence and is viewed as a threat to him or herself or as a danger to others? Is that not at the heart of public safety?
This is not just a question of renewing a licence every five or 10 years. Under this proposed legislation, if the licence is not updated at the 10-year timeline, it does not expire. It is not a 10-year licence that expires. At 10 years, the licence is suspended.
My colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, laid out very clearly all the unanswered questions in Bill C-346 in respect of suspension. It is not a defined term in the legislation. What does a license suspension mean? Would people who have suspended licences be allowed to continue possessing firearms? Would they be allowed to purchase ammunition? Would they be allowed to buy, sell, or trade firearms? Can a suspended licence be confiscated? All this ambiguity in the Firearms Act is unacceptable, and it clearly does not prioritize public safety.
I understand that when we talk about all these matters in the House, there are different perspectives. I have heard them. I am not a gun owner, and I represent a community of fewer gun owners that many of my colleagues. I understand that. In my community, there are incidents of shootings that make the community feel unsafe. Two weeks ago, a man was shot a couple of blocks from my house, with a child in a vehicle. I spoke to constituents recently who have bullet holes and broken windows from a shooting at the beginning of the summer.
Our government will be implementing measures consistent with our platform and will ensure that criminals and individuals who pose a danger to themselves or the public are not able to obtain and use firearms.
I will not be supporting this bill. To me, it is not a heavy burden for gun owners to renew their licences every five years, as the current legislation requires.
Firearms ActPrivate Members' Business
November 7th, 2017 / 5:40 p.m.
Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB
Mr. Speaker, I would have thought after all the debacles the Liberal government has been through in the past that maybe, during the debate on something as important as the rights of law-abiding citizens and their property, there would be someone in the Liberal Party who would actually know what they were talking about when they got up to speak. Virtually everything we just heard from the previous member is untrue, and unqualifiedly untrue, because it simply reflects a complete lack of knowledge of how the current system actually works.
I am proud to be a member of a political party, the Conservative Party, which, under former prime minister Stephen Harper and the previous minister, brought to this House in the previous Parliament the Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act. I can tell everyone why that was so important. What my hon. colleague over there does not understand is that in no other jurisdiction in Canada does someone need to have a licence for the privilege of owning property. This has nothing to do with the use of a firearm or the deployment or activities pertaining to it, but is a licence to possess and acquire only.
We could go anywhere in Canada and buy a car, a house, or any other piece of property and would not need a licence to do so. The fact that a licence and the licensing requirement for firearms owners is already in place is a precedent. All that this bill by my hon. colleague from Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies seeks to do is to keep law-abiding citizens from becoming arbitrary criminals because of bureaucratic delays.
One of the things the Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act did was to provide a grace period of up to, I believe, six months on the expiry of a possession acquisition or possession-only licence, and it merged the possession-only and possession acquisition licences into a common one. It made things easier for the police when it came to enforcing the laws with regard to background checks and the authorizations to transport. The Liberal government has already gone back on this to a paper system, despite the fact we had the ability, through the Canadian Police Information Centre, to have this digitally. Indeed, the police officer would have had the information instantly on an authorization to transport for any restricted firearm anyone had.
However, no, we are going to go back to the old ways, the old ways where the Liberals hide behind institutions. They love institutions. Over here on this side of the House, we trust in Canadian citizens and in their ability to make decisions that are best for themselves, and we trust law-abiding firearms owners. I grew up in the countryside, where if a police officer were in trouble, my friends and neighbours would come to the aid of the police officer. These are the kinds of people who own firearms in my community—farmers, hunters, sport shooters, patriotic Canadians who love the sport or need that tool for their way of life. These are not criminals.
I have a big news flash for everyone on the other side of the House: laws only pertain to law-abiding citizens. The more onerous we make the laws, and if we create laws that artificially make criminals out of people, we are not doing justice to anyone.
Here is the problem with what the Liberals are doing. Basically, they are now going back to hiding behind the RCMP. Now, I love the RCMP. What an iconic symbol it is for our country. I love the men and women on the front lines of the RCMP who serve and protect us every day. In fact, a member of the Abbotsford police force gave up his life on Monday. They are salt of the earth hard-working people, and virtually every RCMP officer I know likes hunting, and is maybe a firearms enthusiast. Most of them would disagree with the opposite side's notion that they should be voting against this piece of legislation.
A few years ago, I followed what was prescribed on the firearms site maintained by the RCMP. It said that if someone's possession acquisition licence were about to expire, the person should fill out a renewal at least six months beforehand. I had to go through the exact same process I had gone through in the first place to renew the licence. In that time frame, I was at the mercy of the whims of the RCMP bureaucracy to process my renewal. Guess what happened? That renewal did not come back within the six months.
The day after my birthday that year, I was automatically a criminal, through no fault of my own, after following the advice of the RCMP. I had firearms and ammunition in my possession that I had lawfully purchased, while I had a valid possession and acquisition licence. Simply because the bureaucracy did not return my possession acquisition licence renewal, I was an automatic criminal. If anything had happened to me, or if my house had been robbed, or if I wanted to go hunting and something happened or someone stole a firearm from my vehicle, I would have been in serious trouble, potentially criminal trouble, for doing something I did every hunting season.
Every time I go out to my parents' property to do varmint control, or whatever the case might be, I am a law-abiding Canadian citizen. I have no intent whatsoever of being in violation of the law. However, the law made a criminal of me. This is wrong. This is no different than the Liberals changing their minds and moving away from their elected responsibilities as members of Parliament and members of an executive branch of government through orders-in-council. They are now letting the RCMP, again, with a stroke of a pen, change regulations pertaining to firearms in our country, rather than taking the political responsibility and the decision for themselves on the advice of the RCMP.
I love this legislation because it simply suspends someone. It is not a complicated thing to understand. If a person's licence is suspended, it cannot be used, but the person does not have to go back and start the process all over again. Updating information every 10 years is no different than providing the same information again in an application. It just avoids the rigamarole. It is not a complicated concept to figure out. We do it for a passports now. The precedent is set for government-issued IDs for 10 years to be valid. What is so complicated about that? Is it just the love of bureaucracy and creating jobs in the bureaucracy that the Liberals admire and adore so much?
This is an attack on law-abiding citizens. I will remind the House that no one in Canada wants to see any type of violent crime. This issue is not about violent crime; it is about law-abiding Canadian citizens and is another attack or assault on their rights.
Bill C-346 would amend the Firearms Act to eliminate the expiry of firearms licences within the mandatory provision that the licence holder updates the relevant information every 10 years. In the government's mind we cannot have that. We need to have it every five years and start the process all over. God forbid if one's licence expires, as he or she will immediately be a criminal. What is so complicated about this?
It simplifies and streamlines a process. People have already been vetted and if their licences have been revoked in some way, they would know that, because 365 days a year, the RCMP, through the Canadian police information centre, and the CPIC database, would have verified and validated every Canadian firearms licence owner. If something was flagged through either a trial or court decision that someone's firearms licence should have been revoked or the person lost his or her privileges, the RCMP or the local police force would remove the licence from the individual and take he or she off. That is how someone who is in trouble is flagged, not by going through an application process all over again.
If people's licences are suspended, they cannot buy or sell their firearms or buy any ammunition. What an incentive to actually get the paperwork done in that 10-year period, to get the information into the police, and have the licences returned from the suspended mode. People should be able to turn their licences in at any point in time. This bill makes it easy for people who realize they no longer need their firearms licences to hand them in and be done with them. That is how the process should be stopped.
This bill is full of common sense. Obviously, anyone voting against it has none.
Firearms ActPrivate Members' Business
November 7th, 2017 / 5:30 p.m.
Ramez Ayoub Liberal Thérèse-De Blainville, QC
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-346, An Act to amend the Firearms Act (licences).
As my colleagues know, we campaigned on a promise to implement reasonable, effective measures with respect to firearms that promote public safety while ensuring that law-abiding firearm owners are treated in a fair and reasonable manner.
I believe it is fair and reasonable to require firearm owners to obtain a permit to own firearms. It is also fair and reasonable that people applying for a permit be required to provide information proving that they do not pose a threat, including information about any new mental health conditions as well as the attestation of current or former conjugal partners. It is also fair and reasonable that that information should be updated regularly, since circumstances can change in life.
That is why firearms permits currently have expiry dates. Every five years, firearms owners must apply to have their permits renewed and they must submit updated information on their eligibility. That is fair and reasonable.
Licences for many other things, such as cars, work the same way. However, the bill before us would eliminate the very idea of an expiration date for the firearms licensing system. In other words, this bill would allow people to go 10 years without having to update their licence information. That is not right or reasonable. This bill would not be in the interest of public safety. That is why I cannot support it.
Let us take a closer look at what Bill C-346 is proposing. Under the bill, a firearms licence would essentially be valid for life for any licence holder over 18. The idea behind the licensing provisions of the Firearms Act is to protect public safety by ensuring that applicants are appropriately screened.
The provision of the bill regarding lifetime licences will weaken the regime and undermine the very purpose of the act. What is more, it is dangerous to let people go for 10 years without updating the eligibility information on their permit. The information that is collected every five years under the current regime is critical to protecting the public. It is an invaluable tool for the chief firearms officers who review this information.
Chief firearms officers use this information to determine whether there are safety risks associated with allowing an individual continued access to a firearm. This is done based on the understanding that people's personal circumstances change over time. The chief firearms officers feel it is very important that this information be kept up to date, as do most Canadians.
Neither communities nor law enforcement officers would want a firearm owner who is not eligible to be able to go for 10 years without undergoing any kind of assessment, while maintaining continued access to firearms.
As I mentioned earlier, applicants have to provide a statement from their current or former partner confirming that they are not a threat. This statement is essential for several reasons.
For one thing, studies have shown that battered women are five times more likely to be killed by their aggressor if he owns a firearm. A study by the Violence Policy Center in the United States showed that nearly two-thirds of the women murdered with a firearm were killed by their intimate partner.
If that is not proof enough, we are seeing more and more evidence of the link between domestic violence and mass shootings. A recent American study that looked at mass shootings between 2009 and 2014 showed that 57% of them involved the murder of a family member or a current or former intimate partner.
If we were to pass this bill, a person could have serious concerns about a former partner owning a firearm, but Canadian authorities would be unaware of those concerns for 10 years.
Let us look at what would happen after 10 years if new information about eligibility were not supplied. First, the licence would not expire because it would have no expiration date. Essentially, the bill introduces the concept of a suspended licence for those who do not renew their licence, and it enables people to voluntarily relinquish their licence.
However, this proposed legislation does not adequately explain what a suspended licence means. The concept of a suspended firearms licence does not exist in the Firearms Act, nor is it defined in the Criminal Code.
There is nothing in the bill before us that defines this concept. It would introduce a vague system that would create uncertainty and jeopardize public safety. For example, if a person's licence is suspended, can that person buy, sell, or exchange a non-restricted firearm? The bill does not say.
Since the bill does not explain how it would amend the Firearms Act with regard to the transfer of non-restricted firearms, a person could buy a non-restricted firearm with a suspended licence, because their laminated card would still look valid.
By all accounts, this is not the only point on which this bill is too vague. It also fails to state whether people who continue to possess firearms after their licence is suspended could continue to hold a suspended licence, even though this would violate our firearms laws. We still do not know whether this means that those who have access to restricted or prohibited firearms could simply choose to allow their licence to be suspended indefinitely while still possessing a non-restricted firearm.
This type of omission is unacceptable in a bill dealing with such an important issue as firearms and community safety. The bill's inconsistencies go against the government's sensible and effective approach to firearms. In the past two years, the government has implemented reasonable basic measures to ensure Canadians' safety, while continuing to treat responsible firearm owners in a fair and respectful manner.
The government allowed decisions on technical classifications to be made by the law enforcement community rather than allowing politics, instead of public safety, to determine how a gun is classified. These decisions are made by the RCMP, in accordance with criteria established by Parliament in the Criminal Code and other regulatory regimes.
The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness overturned a ministerial directive from the previous government that would have allowed firearms manufacturers to determine the classification of their own products, and a new and more representative Canadian firearms advisory committee was established. It includes representatives of women's groups and public health organizations, as well as police and the firearms community. That makes sense, because decisions about firearms concern all of us.
In summary, we are putting public safety first while remaining respectful of responsible gun owners. Since Bill C-346 does not make public safety a priority, I invite all honourable members to join me in opposing it.
The House resumed from June 2 consideration of the motion that Bill C-346, An Act to amend the Firearms Act (licences), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Firearms ActPrivate Members' Business
June 2nd, 2017 / 2 p.m.
Larry Maguire Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to rise in the House to debate Bill C-346, an act to amend the Firearms Act, and to perhaps straighten out some of the misconceptions that have been put on record today by the third party and the parliamentary secretary.
The legislation was introduced by my Conservative colleague, the member of Parliament for Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies and at this time I would like to thank my friend, now my seatmate, for his work in supporting Canada's firearms owners and for bringing common sense forward as a solution that I know many have long called for.
Far too often gun legislation and responsible firearms owners have been treated unfairly. I am not here today to relive Bill C-68 and it is not my intention to rehash old battles. I know there are many new members in the House who were not around to deal with the common-sense firearms act that was passed in the last Parliament. For the benefit of those following the debate, it was the Conservative government's legislation that enacted simple and safe firearms policies and streamlined the licensing system.
The legislation amended the Firearms Act and the Criminal Code to create a six-month grace period at the end of a five-year licence to stop people from immediately becoming criminalized for a paperwork delay. The legislation also streamlined the licensing system by eliminating the possession-only licence and converting all of the existing licences to possession and acquisition licences. The other important elements of the legislation were to make classroom participation in firearm safety training mandatory for first-time licence applicants and to strengthen provisions relating to orders prohibiting the possession of firearms where a person is convicted for an offence involving domestic violence. While the Liberals and the NDP voted against these common-sense measures, I can assure members of the House that constituents of theirs who are firearms owners openly celebrated the passage of the bill.
As a member of Parliament who represents countless firearms owners, I can say that I unequivocally support their right to own and use firearms. However, with this right comes great responsibility. I support their right to hunt wild game for either sustenance or as a traditional way of life. I support their right to take part in sport shooting. I recognize that firearms are a tool for farmers and those who live in rural Canada, and last of all, many Canadians are devout collectors of firearms and are passionate about their hobby.
It was the previous Conservative government that eliminated the ineffective and costly long gun registry, even with the help of a few NDP members.
Furthermore, former colleague Rick Norlock passed his private member's bill to designate a National Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day and it was the Conservative government that created the national hunting and angling advisory panel. For far too long, Canadian firearms owners who abide by the law and cross their t's and dot their i's have tried their best to follow the rules and regulations, even when it was abundantly clear they were not always designed in the most coherent fashion.
Bill C-346 builds on the Conservative caucus's long and proud history of defending the rights of Canadian firearms owners. The bill builds on the progress made to ensure common-sense legislation that allows Canadians to become licensed firearms owners in a structured, yet simple mannered process, without compromising the security of Canadians. While much has been done to correct many of the wrongs that the previous Chrétien government implemented, it is good to see that Bill C-346 is being debated today.
The goal of the bill is quite simple. It is aimed at preventing honest, law-abiding firearms owners from being unjustly charged and becoming criminals. Bill C-346 aims to ensure that no law-abiding firearms owner is criminalized for an administrative issue. As the law currently states, should firearms owners fail to have their paperwork finalized when renewing their licences, they can be criminalized. We do, however, take issue when law-abiding individuals can be unfairly criminalized through no fault of their own. Let me explain.
The Firearms Act, as it currently stands, fails to address the issue that paperwork delays do not always occur due to the fault of the firearms owner but also due to the fault of the government. Indeed, the Phoenix pay system has made it quite clear that the government does not always run as smoothly as possible.
If departmental staff delay the processing of a licence application or a renewal, there are no safeguards built into the existing legislation that protect the gun owner from being criminalized. This is wrong. That is why I am pleased to support the legislation, as it will address this problem. If passed, C-346 will amend the Firearms Act to eliminate the expiry date of firearms licences, but includes the mandatory provision that the licence holder must update the relevant information every 10 years.
This is a positive step for licence holders, as they no longer have to worry every five years about the expiry of their licences. For those who think this would be too long of a period, let me just remind the House that our passports now have a 10-year life cycle. I think we can all agree that this change has been very widely celebrated as it has reduced the inconvenience of getting a new passport photo and filling out the paperwork every five years, let alone every year.
As well, Bill C-346 would not revoke the licences of gun owners who have not updated their information. Should a gun owner fail to update their information, the licence is subsequently suspended. Such a suspension can be cancelled as soon as the necessary required information has been provided to the proper authorities. It further states that no licence may be revoked simply because it is suspended due to the required information not being provided.
This is a crucial part of the legislation. It makes the process far easier to navigate for law-abiding firearms owners, as they would no longer have to go through the process for applying for a brand new licence, should they fail to get the required information in on time. Their licence would simply be suspended until said information is provided. We see no reason to continue to make the process unnecessarily onerous and criminalize individuals who have done nothing wrong.
This new legislation also includes a relinquishment section. Many firearms owners who no longer wish to have their licences, simply do not send in their information so that their licence is cancelled. If Bill C-346 is passed, this would not happen, as the licence would be classified as suspended.
Obviously the Liberals, at least the member for Ajax, never read the motion. The relinquishment section of the legislation allows an individual who no longer wishes to keep their firearms licence, to voluntarily surrender their licence to a chief firearms officer with no negative consequences. This ensures that any individual wishing to let go of their firearms licence would be able to do so in a simple manner.
Another reason this proposed change should come into force is that the RCMP continuous eligibility system, which verifies the validity and conditions of licence requirements every single day, has proven itself effective over the years. This system ensures that any offence that would immediately suspend or revoke a licence is provided to the appropriate law enforcement, and as the law enforcement will have the most up-to-date address for the individual who committed the offence, it would easily allow for the licence to be suspended or permanently revoked.
However, the safeguards built into the system say that if an individual does not update their information, they would not be allowed to purchase a firearm or ammunition from any supplier. This is a reasonable condition to place upon any firearms owner.
In closing, I believe that law-abiding duck hunters, deer hunters, sports shooters, among others, are responsible members of their communities, and when safety measures are followed, provide no threat to others. For far too long, firearms owners have not been treated with respect.
The member for Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies, from Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, the former minister of public safety and the current member for Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis, and our current chair of the Conservative hunting and angling caucus, my friend from Red Deer—Lacombe, among others, have played an integral role in defending and promoting the rights of firearms owners, and I commend their efforts.
Also, I feel the efforts of our law enforcement officials should be invested in tackling the illegal gun market and those who commit heinous and violent acts of crime. Let us work together to ensure that the firearms regime is targeting those we need to target, those who have demonstrated they pose a threat to society. In particular, these efforts could be aimed at the safety of women and children in their homes.
I encourage all members to vote in favour of the legislation and to open a dialogue with their constituents who own firearms to hear how these measures are a step in the right direction.
Firearms ActPrivate Members' Business
June 2nd, 2017 / 1:55 p.m.
Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in the debate on Bill C-346.
First of all, I want to thank the bill's sponsor for his well intentioned work. I also want to thank the parliamentary secretary for his speech to explain the government's position.
Before I get into the substance of the bill, I would like to outline a few important principles, the first being the unfortunate reality in which we live. For a very long time, the governing party, the Conservative Party, wanted to politicize the debate surrounding the use and regulation of firearms in Canada. It even sent fundraising emails.
I find that disappointing, because it created an atmosphere that pitted Canadians against one another, depending on their perspective. Ours is a vast country, and the reality is very different from one region to the next, and from an urban area to a rural area. When the government should have been encouraging people to work together and have a healthy debate on this issue in order to develop effective and appropriate public policies, instead it tried to use the situation to its political advantage. We again find ourselves in an unfortunate situation. However, it is important to understand the context and proceed with a rigorous review of a bill such as this one.
I also want to talk about the importance of the work that police officers do, not politicians and their decisions about what is good for public safety. This is, after all, a public safety issue. The bill sponsor was absolutely right when he said that the vast majority of firearm owners are law-abiding citizens.
That being said, when we draft a bill, we have to consider those who are not law-abiding. These unfortunate exceptions can endanger public safety and the safety of all Canadians. That is where I am coming from on this bill, and that is the perspective that will inform my comments to the House and my recommendation to my caucus as the NDP public safety critic.
The first problem is, of course, lack of clarity. I think the parliamentary secretary did a good job of explaining which rights are lost and which are not when a licence is suspended.
Under the current system, the loss of the firearms may seem like a nuisance to a firearms owner. However, under the system being proposed by my colleague in his bill, a gun owner could have his firearms licence suspended for legitimate reasons, for example if he is no longer fit to carry firearms.
After all, as the parliamentary secretary said, many things can change in 10 years. Meanwhile, the individual continues to have firearms in his possession. In these circumstances, the changes may result in a threat to public safety. These are unfortunate exceptions that must be considered when developing public policies and before accepting or rejecting a bill.
The second point is as follows. The licences do not expire, and since a licence can easily be reinstated, we unfortunately cannot support failure to provide a consequence. In fact, the renewal process is extremely important and we believe that it is very reasonable.
Contrary to what seemed to be claimed in the opening address of this debate, legislative changes were made recently, which has simplified the process tremendously. There is even a six-month grace period after the expiry of a licence.
This grace period allows people to renew their licence, even if they run into problems with the mail, they are facing personal challenges, or they are late in renewing it for all sorts of administrative reasons. As we know, life moves fast. We need to ensure that law-abiding gun owners who are aware of the importance of obeying the law and who use their weapons responsibly for legitimate purposes are not punished. That is exactly why there is a grace period. It is important to point that out.
We are also very aware of the cost that may be associated with the various obligations. It costs $60 for a five-year licence for a non-restricted firearm. That seems like a reasonable amount to me because the licence is good for five years. If I remember correctly, and forgive me if I am wrong, people can also pay for their licences online. Given how the various levels of government are changing the way they use technology and the Internet, these systems will only improve in the coming years. The various government services will be changing and improving these systems, while ensuring that they work properly, or at least that is what we hope.
We are also talking about what happens when a licence has to be renewed after five years.
Obviously some of the important administrative pieces of information would change. We talk about addresses and marital status and things of that nature that are obviously, in some cases, more innocuous than others. However, we also have to recognize, as the sponsor of the bill also recognized, that when people initially get their licence, they go through the process of mental health evaluations, and the criminal record and background are checked.
While all those different checks happen initially, it is important to have the licence renewal process. For example, the information goes through CPIC and other authorities, who can decide whether it is appropriate for that individual to continue to own and properly use a licensed firearm.
In that context, it is obviously very important. We look at, for example, the issue of marital status, and when it leads to requiring a statement from the person's ex-spouse, that kind of link can be very important. When we think of domestic violence, we obviously would not want someone who had committed that kind of crime to continue to own and operate a firearm. It is important to emphasize that those cases are the exception, certainly a tragic exception, but an exception nonetheless. I do not want to repeat myself, but when we elaborate on these public policies and evaluate bills like the one proposed by my hon. colleague, we need to take those realities into consideration.
Once again, it is important and bears repeating: Given these criteria and the fact that it has been somewhat alleviated in the last few years, there are reasonable grace periods put in place. We feel that the current system is very respectful of all the pieces that my colleague mentioned. Certainly I believe in many of our ridings, and surprisingly even in suburban and urban ridings in some cases, there are many Canadians who own firearms and enjoy their different activities, whether hunting or other outdoor activities like sport shooting and such.
We obviously are mindful of that, but I believe that the current system is appropriate for ensuring public safety. It is reasonable. Unfortunately, I believe that what my colleague is proposing would go counter to that. It would create a more unreasonable situation when it comes to ensuring public safety. As far as we are concerned, it would create too large a vacuum when it comes to certain obligations that we ask of these gun owners.
With that, I thank my colleague once again for bringing this debate forward. Certainly we are always open to working on progressive ideas when it comes to respecting Canadians and the participation they might want when it comes to hunting and the other outdoor joys we have in Canada. However, unfortunately we believe that this bill does not go in a direction that is appropriate and that would ensure public safety.
In closing, I want to thank the parliamentary secretary for his very informative and relevant speech about striking a balance between public safety and respect for Canadian gun owners.
Firearms ActPrivate Members' Business
June 2nd, 2017 / 1:45 p.m.
Mark Holland LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise on this bill. I want to commend the member for bringing the idea forward in the form of this bill, Bill C-346, an act to amend the Firearms Act (licences).
As my colleagues know, our government is committed to implementing reasonable, effective measures, with respect to firearms, that promote public safety while respecting law-abiding firearm owners. Responsible firearm owners, including hunters, farmers, and sports shooters, rightly expect to be treated fairly and reasonably. My grandfather was a hunter. He greatly enjoyed the sport, and he was a responsible owner himself.
At the same time, they, like all Canadians, understand the importance of doing everything we can to combat gun crime and keep Canadians safe. This includes keeping firearms out of the hands of people who could be dangerous.
The private member's bill before us would make it easier for people who pose a danger to the public to acquire and possess guns. As such, it would clearly contradict our commitment to protect the safety of Canadians, and our government, therefore, cannot support it.
I would like to take a moment to look at the provisions in this bill to explain this concept further.
First, Bill C-346 proposes to eliminate the expiry of firearms licences. Under the bill, a firearms licence would never expire. It would essentially be valid for the life of anyone over the age of 18.
Licences for most sorts of things do not work this way, and for a very good reason. Most of us understand that circumstances change and that a person who may meet the criteria for obtaining a licence today might not necessarily meet them forever. Would any of us, for example, want to be on the road with someone who got a driver's licence 60 years ago and never had to renew it?
The idea behind the licensing provisions of the Firearms Act is to protect public safety by ensuring that applicants are appropriately screened and that firearms owners continue to meet the eligibility criteria. That cannot be done if licences are valid for life.
This brings me to the second provision. Currently, firearms owners update the information relevant to their licence eligibility every five years through the licence renewal process. This includes information about any new mental health conditions as well as the attestation of current or former conjugal partners that the person does not pose a threat.
These are important provisions. It is one of the reasons they are done every five years.
Under this bill, firearms owners would only update this information every 10 years. Again, a lot of things can change in a decade. There may well be people who could be trusted to safely own a firearm today but for whom that might not be the case in seven, eight, or nine years.
This bill does not even take its own 10-year timeline seriously. Under Bill C-346, firearms owners who do not update their information once a decade could have their licences suspended. However, the bill does not explain what suspension of a licence would even mean. Under existing law, a firearms licence is either valid or revoked. The concept of a suspended licence does not exist in the Firearms Act, nor is it defined in the Criminal Code.
Would people who have suspended licences be allowed to continue possessing firearms? Would they be allowed to purchase ammunition? Would they be allowed to buy, sell, or trade firearms? The bill does not say. There is no definition whatsoever.
The bill also does not specify whether a suspended licence could be confiscated. It seems, therefore, that it would be up to the individual whose licence is suspended to voluntarily relinquish it. If the individual did not, the physical licence, the plastic card, would continue to appear valid and could quite possibly continue to be used indefinitely, because it would, as per the first part of the bill, never expire.
I do not know what the nature of this ambiguity is. It is unfortunate that it is not clear, but it is an unacceptable oversight. In any event, it is public safety that would be at risk.
The information collected every five years under the current regime is critical in protecting the public. It is an invaluable tool for the chief firearms officers, or CFOs, who review that information. With it, CFOs can determine whether there are safety risks associated with allowing an individual continued lawful access to firearms. Any CFO would insist that such information be kept current, and I am sure the vast majority of Canadians, including firearms owners, perhaps especially firearms owners, would agree.
We are committed to taking reasonable measures to keep Canadians safe from gun violence while ensuring the fair treatment of law-abiding firearms owners.
Already we have stopped the previous government's practice of contradicting law enforcement experts on weapons classification. We reversed the ministerial directive that could have allowed gun manufacturers to determine the classification of their own products. We fulfilled our promise to establish a more representative Canadian firearms advisory committee, which includes police, farmers, sports shooters, public health advocates, representatives from conservation organizations, representation from weapons groups, and members of the legal committee.
Having had an opportunity to sit in on those meetings and work with those individuals, I think they do our country a great service. Indeed, we can be enormously proud of the contributions they are making in such a balanced way.
We are taking concrete action to keep Canadians safe, and we are doing so while respecting firearms owners. Unfortunately, the legislation runs contrary to the balanced and sensible approach this government has taken to public safety.
To recap, Bill C-346 proposes that people with a firearms licence should only have to update their eligibility information every 10 years. If they do not comply with that even dangerously lax requirement, their licence would be deemed suspended. I use that term in whatever definition it means, because the bill does not say what it would mean, and a person with a suspended licence could, in all likelihood, given the lack of definition in the bill, continue possessing a firearms licence regardless, and would be able to do so indefinitely, because under the provisions of the bill the licence would never expire.
Unfortunately, none of this makes any sense. It is bad from a public policy and safety perspective, and it would leave firearms owners and law enforcement attempting to operate in an unclear system, with no one quite sure how to enforce the rules or abide by them.
On that basis, although I know the hon. member's intent is good, the bill unfortunately is not, and I would therefore encourage members of the House to oppose it.
Firearms ActPrivate Members' Business
June 2nd, 2017 / 1:35 p.m.
Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies, BC
Mr. Speaker, I guess it is a good sign that we have an audience on this Friday afternoon. It is not all bad. Members are across the way too, so that is good.
The comparison I am using is with a vehicle owner. Let us say someone's driver's licence expires. They may own a vehicle, but they certainly would not be allowed to operate it, and that vehicle is sitting in the driveway. Then, just because the person's licence has expired, the police do not come and take them away and treat them like criminals because they did not renew their licence.
We think the same latitude should be given to firearms owners here in Canada. They are the most law-abiding group that I have seen in Canada. They are very thorough in the way they store their firearms and they are very diligent about how they do things. Again, we do not want to see Grandpa Joe penalized for a small mistake that could be quickly rectified.
I would like to quote some people in the firearms industry. There are massive numbers of members in associations, and they support this bill.
Tony Bernardo, from the Canadian Shooting Sports Association, said that my bill reflects the reality that every firearms licence in Canada is reviewed every day by the police. The RCMP's continuous eligibility process should equate to continuous entitlement to possess firearms.
He went on to say that no law-abiding firearms owner should be criminalized for an expired firearms licence.
That is really the crux of this whole thing. It is just a little fixing of an administrative issue. Turning that administrative issue into something that is criminal is not what was intended by the law. There are other ways to get it done without turning Grandpa Joe into an outlaw.
One of the questions I have heard is whether my bill will make obtaining firearms easier.
It seems that whenever we want a positive piece of firearms legislation, it is always taken to a further degree and perceived as now enabling people to buy firearms at every corner store. That is not the case. It would not not make it any easier at all. To legally purchase a firearm or ammunition in Canada, as most firearms owners know, people need to have a firearms licence. That would not change with my bill.
To obtain the firearms licence, people need to go through a process of training, learning about firearms and how to safely store them and so on. My son just took his course. He is 19. He did his RPAL about a month ago. He is getting his the right way and is just waiting for it to come in.
There is also a process of background checks that regularly update the status of an individual. If there is ever an issue with a person, if there are family issues or mental issues, that is collected, and that person would not be able to purchase or possess a firearm. That is a good feature of our firearms licensing program in Canada. It is among the most stringent in the world.
Another question is about what “suspend” means in the bill.
“Suspend” refers to the status of a licence when the information has not been updated within the allotted 10-year period. Using the example of Grandpa Joe, if my bill passes—and I sure hope it does—and Grandpa Joe's licence expires, it goes into suspended mode. That does not mean he becomes a criminal just by possessing that particular firearm in his home; what it means is that he would be suspended from purchasing firearms or ammunition. He could not buy new firearms or ammunition. That is what it suspends.
The suspension is temporary. When Grandpa Joe goes back in and says that he needs to update his address or whatever, the suspension would then be cancelled when the information is provided. A key point for all the firearms owners out there—and this a big issue with my bill, because I know there is a cautionary thought around the word “suspend” and what that means—is that a suspended licence could not be revoked simply because it was suspended. That is a key point. Once someone has gone through the licensing process and done the work and done the training, they certainly do not forget all they have learned just because the licence has expired. They still know how to safely use and store that firearm. A suspended licence could not be revoked simply because it was suspended.
For too long, firearms owners have been treated as shady outlaws over an administrative issue, as I said in my video, and there is a good graphic of the outlaw in the cowboy hat. I want to make sure that no law-abiding firearms owner can be criminalized just for having an expired firearms licence. It goes back to needing to have a good conversation about firearms.
What many people do not know about firearms owners in Canada is that there is a huge demographic that is growing of people who want to own, possess, and use firearms at a range or to go hunting. It is the under 30 demographic. Some of that generation have seen firearms for different uses. They maybe have seen their fathers, grandfathers, mothers, and grandmothers go hunting and they want to experience that themselves.
We are seeing growth in urban areas too. We are seeing dramatic growth in legitimate firearms use in Canada. In Canada we need to rest assured that these people are law-abiding owners. They are licensed and trained, and we should not be worried about that growth. It is a legitimate group that obeys the law and does it the right way. Bill C-346 honours that and makes our firearms laws in Canada that much stronger.
I would like to recognize a few individuals in our party across the country, members of caucus who have seconded my bill from Ontario, all the way across to Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, who support this kind of legislation. It is positive for our firearms owners and it really supports them well.
I would challenge the Liberals and the NDP to consider this demographic seriously. There are Liberals who own firearms. I am co-chair of the parliamentary outdoor caucus. We represent all parties in our group and we want to make sure that there are good laws that recognize our outdoor heritage in Canada. That is sports shooting, hunting, fishing, guiding, and outfitting. It is a group that we all represent, and I would hope and trust that the government across the way would support solid legislation like this to ensure that firearms owners are not going to be needlessly criminalized because of some administrative issue.
I am a firearms owner. I do not hunt as much as I would like to. I fish, but my children have all operated firearms safely. We have an event next week where members of Parliament from all parties get to experience what a firearm feels like and safely operate that firearm. One of my staff had never fired a firearm before, and she was concerned when we first went to the range, but by the end of the day there was a big smile on her face. She understood that this could be done safely. It is a lot of fun, and we have a great regime in Canada that sees that our firearms owners operate them safely and effectively.
Our party does not want to see the laws become regressive. We have seen some moves lately with UN markings and stuff. I am glad to see the minister from Saskatchewan pull back on some of what has been talked about in terms of UN markings and understanding this issue. This was due to the firearms groups in Canada that let us know that the laws need to be hospitable to firearms owners in Canada, not needlessly restrictive. We have a good regime already. We do not need to make it more restrictive. It is already very safe.
My desire in putting forward Bill C-346, which would remove firearms licences from expiring and also has a provision to relinquish one's licence, is meant to do just that and to make our firearms laws in Canada stronger and not regressive.
I want to say a special thanks to all firearms groups across Canada. We support them and support their good work in training. There are a lot of organizations that, while we are having fun on a weekend and mowing the lawn, they are out there training people how to safely operate firearms. They do this every weekend, 52 weeks a year, to make sure that firearms can be safely operated in this country. I thank those groups and say keep up the good work to all who are doing good work for the firearms community in Canada.
I look forward to hearing members' comments.
Firearms ActPrivate Members' Business
June 2nd, 2017 / 1:30 p.m.
Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies, BC
moved that Bill C-346, An Act to amend the Firearms Act (licences), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Mr. Speaker, it is my honour today to speak to my private member's bill, Bill C-346, an act to amend the Firearms Act on licences. I am going to go over some of the basics of it, and then I will talk about it more at length.
The aim of the bill is to ensure that no law-abiding firearms owner is criminalized for an administrative issue. The proposed changes reflect the success of the RCMP continuous eligibility system, which verifies the validity and conditions of licence requirements every day. The bill also proposes to create an avenue for individuals to voluntarily relinquish their licences.
I will speak to some key points about what this legislation would do, and also speak to some myths out there with people who are not sure what the bill would or would not do.
The bill would amend the Firearms Act to eliminate the expiry of firearms licences, with a mandatory provision that the licence holder update his or her relevant information every 10 years.
I have been talking with other parties in the House, and I am open to amendments, as long as they would not extremely affect my bill. I have been in conversations already about that, and I will discuss them more as they come to me.
An individual whose licence has not been updated will not be able to purchase a firearm or ammunition. If an individual fails to update his or her information, the licence will be suspended. The suspension is subsequently cancelled as soon as the holder provides the necessary basic information. No licence may be revoked simply because it is suspended.
The last provision of the bill, the relinquishment section, would allow an individual who no longer desires to possess a firearms licence to voluntarily relinquish the licence to a chief firearms officer with no negative consequences.
I have done some videos on Facebook and Twitter, and I use the character of Grandpa Joe. The desire is that Grandpa Joe not become a criminal simply because his licence expires. Many firearms owners in Canada have gone through the process of getting their licence. They have done their due diligence. They have gone through the process. They are safe, law-abiding firearms owners, yet simply because their licence expires, they can be charged with illegal possession of a firearm.
It could happen today. I have heard some interesting stories about people whose licence has expired, and literally have their door bashed down seven days after the expiry date because they are considered in illegal possession of their firearms. This is a dramatic event that can happen just because a licence expires. I am trying to get to the bottom of this. Poor Grandpa Joe who forgets to renew his licence becomes a criminal. That is the way our system looks at Grandpa Joe.
I often use the analogy of a vehicle owner. Most members in the House own a vehicle. I own a few—
Firearms ActRoutine Proceedings
April 6th, 2017 / 10:10 a.m.
Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies, BC
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-346, An Act to amend the Firearms Act (licences).
Mr. Speaker, I especially want to thank the member for Foothills for being my first seconder on this bill.
The bill is an enactment that amends the Firearms Act to eliminate the expiry of certain firearms licences and to provide for the relinquishment of licences. It also requires individuals to update their licence application information every 10 years and provides for the suspension of licences in certain circumstances.
The essence of the bill is the premise that an expired licence should not make a law-abiding firearms owner a criminal.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)