Mr. Chairman, honourable committee members, and fellow witnesses, it's an honour to speak to you today.
I'm a former RCMP officer as well as a past provincial president of the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation, one of the largest wildlife organizations of its kind in the world. I'm also a family man, and I share the shooting and hunting sports with my wife, daughters, and grandchildren.
I've been the chair of the Saskatchewan recreational firearms committee for over 20 years and continue to work with firearms groups, local government, and the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations. These organizations comprise everyday people interested in the outdoors and the legitimate use of firearms.
The thousands of people I represent support the total repeal and replacement of the Firearms Act with a new act. We want a new act that provides a common-sense approach to firearms ownership in Canada. Therefore, we do support the measures being brought forward here today, but please understand this: respectfully, there's much more work to be done.
Let us look at the Firearms Act of today.
First of all, under this legislation and even with all the amendments proposed today, all firearms owners are deemed criminals if they posses a firearm. Your licence is nothing more than a five-year permit that prevents you from being charged with the criminal offence you're committing. At the whim of government, it can be and will be revoked, and it can be made very difficult to obtain or renew it. Without a firearms licence, owners have no defence for the crime they are committing. Firearms licences must be made valid for life unless the individual has lost that right through a criminal act.
Secondly, the Firearms Act continues to use the Criminal Code in the wrong manner. The government keeps trying to address the criminal use of firearms through licensing provisions. Everyone is in favour of new laws to stop domestic and gang-related violence, but we must not do so at the expense of hundreds of thousands of legitimate firearms users in Canada. Criminal activity should be dealt with by severe penalties under existing Criminal Code provisions. Legitimate firearms owners are not the problem. Firearms licensing should not be in the Criminal Code.
As I speak to fellow Canadians today, I understand that there are serious disconnects between the legitimate firearms users and those for whom the very mention of the word “gun” strikes unwarranted fear into their hearts. Sadly, this is the reality, which is continuously fuelled by a politically motivated and sensationalist media agenda. Tabloid journalism is the order of the day—grab a headline by using the word “gun”. I challenge any and all of you to recall one media broadcast of a positive story concerning firearms use. What should be regulated through the rational application of facts is too often driven by fear and emotion. We are continually reminded that it is impossible to legislate against insanity.
The firearms community has a long tradition of responsible firearms use in Canada, not crime, and the Dominion of Canada owes its very roots to a rich and diverse cultural history built upon the hunting and trapping traditions of over 300 years. That is why legitimate firearms users will never compromise or agree to give up their basic right to own and use firearms. Legitimate firearms users are not the source of firearms crime in Canada. This is a statistical fact.
Today's measures do represent common-sense improvements, and for that I thank you. Legitimate firearms users are ready to get to work. We will help you foster the discussion and assist in creating a common-sense act that stops criminalizing the traditional lifestyle of legitimate firearms users in Canada.
Thank you for my time.