Members of the committee and Mr. Chairman, I'd like to thank you for this opportunity to chat with you. I really appreciate it.
I guess we can just jump right into it.
Concerning Bill C-21, there are some provisions in this bill—or maybe the motivation behind them—that our group can support. The reason I say that is we want a safer Canada too. In fact, I might add that we share a lot of the same safety concerns as a lot of the individuals and groups that you've heard from in this committee so far as well.
For example, we support revoking the licence of those who are guilty of domestic violence or those who are subject to a protection order, granted that the order was proven and justified. That's really important because, obviously, we don't want innocent people being caught up in a new system like that. We support those kinds of things because they just make sense.
We obviously don't want the wrong people being able to legally buy guns—although, in my experience, that and a lot more already happen. Currently, anyone can contact the police at any time if they have a safety concern involving firearms. It's taken very seriously and the police have the legal ability to search and seize almost anything, depending on the level of concern they have for public safety. You've heard that before. You're not hearing that from me for the first time.
There are other provisions in the bill that, of course, are absurd. I think most people realize that already.
There's a new charge for modifying a cartridge magazine. It's already a very serious criminal offence to be in possession of a cartridge magazine that can contain more than the prescribed number of rounds. The possession offence is the only one you could ever really prove anyway, unless you caught someone with a prohibited cartridge magazine in one hand and a file or a drill bit in the other. Plus, you can 3-D print magazines. That provision really doesn't serve any practical public safety purpose.
Another example, unfortunately, is raising the maximum penalty for firearms trafficking from 10 to 14 years. I'm not aware of anyone—ever—who got 10 years for firearms trafficking. I don't know that, because I haven't been on CanLII for days on end, but I have just never heard of that. I have heard a lot to the contrary, and you guys have heard that as well from law enforcement professionals. That measure ends up being a little bit meaningless too.
When I look at those two measures it just says to me that these are opportunities for tough-on-crime talking points. I just don't think there's a place in legislation for that kind of stuff. It's a bit of a concern.
We're most concerned about the handgun ban. I understand the limitations of this committee process and why we're here. I will just offer a little bit of perspective and we can talk about the provision after that.
To say it simply, the handgun ban is unjustified. The committee heard some great information in this process and, obviously, some blatant misinformation. You've heard from numerous active duty law enforcement personnel that the ban on handguns of licensed individuals will have no meaningful benefit to public safety. Here's a quote from the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police:
We believe that a handgun freeze is one method of reducing access to these types of firearms, while allowing existing law-abiding handgun owners to practice their sport.
That's fair enough. They continued:
However, we continue to maintain that restricting lawful handgun ownership will not meaningfully address the real issue....
They go on to talk about gangs and other criminal activity. That's right from the Association of Chiefs of Police.
You've heard numerous retired members of law enforcement say essentially the same thing. You've heard from an exceptional criminal defence lawyer that the handgun ban won't change the behaviour of criminals or the level of access they have to illegal firearms. You've heard from sport shooting organizations that the ban will hurt them in the short term and extinct them in the medium term.
You've heard from gun owners that their property will be taken from them for no fault of their own whatsoever, and that their identity and culture is repugnant and there's no place in Canada for them. I would suggest that law-abiding, licensed firearm owners are deserving of respect and they're just as entitled to their place in Canada as anyone else, as outrageous as that might sound.
For those who don't own guns, the nuclear option of gun bans sounds reasonable only because it's predicated on the idea that handgun ownership is some frivolous, self-centred and unnecessary hobby and that it ought to just be swept away, along with the 650,000 people that are licensed to own handguns in Canada.
I'll tell you, that does not align with reality at all. Therefore, I don't envy you for having to deal with a bill like this. I would ask that you explore other options to mitigate the illegal handgun problem—which we all can see very plainly—before supporting a ban that affects only those who comply with the law.
I appreciate your time and I'd be happy to answer any questions.