Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you to the committee for inviting us to contribute to the discussion around Bill C-71.
As the committee is aware, we represent the Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights. What is significant about that is that the CCFR is primarily a public relations organization. We represent thousands of highly compliant, continuously vetted individual Canadians who are frustrated with being continually punished for no valid reason.
We are being punished by pointless and ineffective regulations, nonsensical and arbitrary requirements, and vilification by the government and media without end.
Consider this: what force would drive your neighbours, your friends, the mechanic who works on your car, an MP, to support, fund, and maybe even volunteer in an organization like ours? The answer to that is the government irresponsibly using its power to implement irrational and political solutions to very complex societal problems and alleged solutions like Bill C-71.
The bill itself we consider to be a disaster. It breaks the Liberal's promise of no new long-gun registry. In response they intend to build an entirely new long-gun registry, up to but excluding the serial number and the description of the firearm that's being transferred. The last time they went down this road it cost the taxpayer over $2 billion. Here we go again.
The private transfer of a firearm post Bill C-71 would consist of a process that records everything about the transfer, including a mandatory approval by the firearms program to transfer that firearm, and the issuance of a reference number. The reference number is essentially a database record number. Although it would be missing from this registry, two additional fields are in the registry, the serial number and the description of the firearm, as I mentioned. I would be completely confident that a few extra fields would be built in for future expansion should the political climate become more permissive later.
Regardless, it's a registry and it has everything to do with firearms.
I'll mention one more thing on this topic. This entire structure and the obligations that it foists upon million of gun owners who haven't done anything wrong to deserve this extra regulation has been billed simply as verifying a licence before a transfer. It certainly sounds reasonable and inexpensive but it's neither. It is grossly misleading; that statement in particular.
Another bizarre measure in Bill C-71 is the revocation of the long-term authorization to transport, the ATT, needed for a licensed gun owner to take their handgun to a gunsmith to have it serviced, for example. It's not that this activity is no longer acceptable, it absolutely is, but under this bill, the owner would need a short-term ATT, which requires a request to the Firearms Centre, processing, a bureaucratic approval, and mailing a piece of paper, which is physically carried by the owner to the gunsmith. This needs to be done every time.
Now remember, this is a licensed gun owner, whom the government has vetted and checks for criminal activity every day. This is a gun owner about whom the government says, that's okay, they can possess unlimited handguns and unlimited ammunition. They can drive to and from the range and wherever else is approved. But unless they had this special permission slip they can't go to the gunsmith because I guess the implication is they'll probably engage in some kind of gang activity or sell their firearm to a criminal.
I wonder what gang member or domestic abuser calls the Firearms Centre for an ATT before transporting their firearm to a crime scene. I'm sure we don't have any numbers on that.
This measure is ridiculously wasteful and is completely ineffective in changing the behaviour of criminals. I was under the impression that this bill was to reduce the criminal use of firearms.
One of the worst provisions in this bill is giving unalterable authority to the RCMP to classify firearms. As it is now, the RCMP is doing this work. If a mistake or an abuse of that authority is committed then elected representatives can overrule them and correct the situation. The difference post Bill C-71 is that should this situation occur no procedural recourse can be taken, none at all.
The minister has rejected this uncomplicated and completely valid criticism by claiming that definitions are defined in legislation, and that the RCMP are merely following instructions. The reality is very different. It's putting the RCMP in a situation where they can determine what possessions are illegal or legal. That same group will enforce their decisions. That in itself is antithetical to how our entire system works and for good reason.
The existing criteria is so horribly written that almost anything could be classified prohibited. We have seen that several times already.
Without very careful consideration of all aspects of this part of the bill, this could be a real problem for everyone.
I'd like to turn the rest of our time over to Ms. Wilson.