Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for your decision. I understand that the time will not be taken from the time we have to debate this important bill.
While I am on my feet, let me clearly reiterate that, in no way, would the way to transport a restricted firearm in this country be impacted by the bill. Unfortunately, this is exactly what the leader of the second opposition has pretended.
However, as was mentioned, the truth will prevail and that is exactly what is happening right here as I am presenting the bill.
Let us move on to the bill and we will let our little Liberal friend yell over there and he will have his time to debate as well.
I was explaining that there would be a grace period for law-abiding citizens who, after five years, are willing to renew their licence. That is one improvement of the bill.
As I was interrupted, I was also indicating that we would be improving the authorization to transport. I would invite the member to listen because maybe then there will not be any more attempts to mislead the House.
As I was saying, currently, an authorization to transport is required to take any restricted firearm between the owner's home and another location. Each and every new location requires a separate form and application.
Are we changing the way to transport a restricted firearm in the country? No.
Are we cutting red tape for law-abiding citizens? Yes. This is exactly what we are doing.
Let us have an honest debate here. Let us talk about the truth, about the facts and about the fact that it is very important to keep our country safe, and to keep the measures this government is applying to keep Canadians safe.
Members have to know this red tape, those papers are not even shared with law enforcement. They are useless. This is a good example of red tape without any added value. I hope the Liberals will clearly understand what the bill is all about, and then we can have an open and frank discussion
This information, as I just mentioned, not only is not shared with law enforcement but is second only to the registration of long guns. This process is the clearest example of needless red tape and burdensome paperwork brought in by the former Liberal government.
My question would be, at this point in time, what does the Liberal Party have against law-abiding citizens? This is the question I hope the hon. member will be answering as he will be given the opportunity to speak to the bill, which would be cutting red tape while increasing the safety of Canadians.
The bill would eliminate the need to apply for new authorization, new red tape, to transport a firearm for any lawful activity within the province where the firearm owner resides.
What are we talking about? We are talking about going to a shooting range. We are talking about going to a gunsmith to have a firearm repaired. We are talking, in some cases, about going to an exhibition where people can exchange and share their views, and their passion for their activity.
It is important to remind everyone that all restricted firearms must be unloaded, locked and in a locked carrying case while being transported. It is also recommended that they always be transported in the trunk of a vehicle.
Once again, we have an opportunity here to educate my hon. colleagues on the other side. Maybe the leader of the second opposition has a need to refresh his knowledge on the way in which one is to carry a restricted firearm in this country.
Let me be clear, this firearm has to be unloaded. It must be trigger locked. It must be in a locked case and, preferably, in the trunk of the car driven by the owner of a valid restricted firearm.
We will keep this because we feel that it is important. However, while doing this, we also feel it is important to cut red tape for those law-abiding citizens. That is why we are bringing those changes forward.
Accordingly, anyone who is transporting a restricted firearm must take the most direct route to his or her destination. That provision already exists in the law. Those rules are not changing, because they are safe and they make sense. This is just common sense.
This is the common sense firearms licensing act. What will be eliminated is the needless paperwork that law-abiding sports shooters were previously required to complete in order to engage in their hobby.
While the crux of the common sense firearms licensing act is, as its name suggests, the licensing of firearms, there are two other important measures tackled by this bill. This is a federal law under the Criminal Code. Therefore, is it not logical that this law be applied the same way across the land? This is what this bill would accomplish.
Second, law enforcers would apply the law and legislators would set the rules. That is how we would ensure that the authority of the chief of firearms officers is clearly defined in law, so that it is applied in a standardized way and that there are no discrepancies from one region to another. After all, we are in the same country, and this is the same law and the same Criminal Code.
The gun laws are Canadian laws. I therefore firmly believe that there should be a Canada-wide standard for enforcing these laws, some degree of standardization. That is exactly what this bill aims to do. It aims to simplify and standardize how the firearms registry is enforced.
Earlier in my comments today, I alluded to decisions that created criminals out of law-abiding citizens overnight. Many Canadians were shocked to realize that some owners of legal firearms for years or decades were turned into criminals overnight. This is not acceptable. That is why we are addressing this issue in the bill.
The common sense firearms licensing act would end the ability of the Canadian firearms program to make a final decision on the reclassification of firearms without the oversight of an elected member of Parliament. We are doing this because the owners of the Swiss Arms and the CZ firearms are law-abiding citizens and should not be treated as criminals. This is why we are bringing this legislation forward for that specific part. Therefore, the government would have an oversight mechanism for decisions on the classification of firearms.
Let me once again be clear, these decisions would be made on the advice of technical experts who are knowledgeable about the workings of firearms. To that end, this is exactly what would happen to the CZ and the Swiss Arms family of rifles in order to have the original reclassification restored when the bill is proclaimed into law.
These important measures are meant to bring some common sense back to our firearms policies. As I said, my priority is to keep Canadians safe through common sense policies.
For too long, gun control in Canada has been about disarming all Canadians. It was about making hunting and sport shooting so onerous, so filled with time-consuming paperwork, that no one would be interested in pursuing these Canadian heritage activities.
Many members around here have grown up on a farm or have parents or grandparents who have grown up on a farm. This was part of their life. This was part of their way of living.
Many of our friends and colleagues like hunting and sport shooting. They are law-abiding citizens. Why should they be ostracized because they are doing those Canadian heritage activities?
We have a common-sense firearm licensing regime to ensure that they are abiding by the law, but in the meantime we are cutting red tape. That is what this bill is all about. That is what we are seeking to achieve with this bill.
To ensure that all new gun owners have a basic understanding of how to safely handle a firearm, they will have to take the Canadian firearms safety course and pass the related test.
I met with many hunters and various organizations and everyone agreed that it just makes sense that anyone who wants to acquire, handle, use or possess a firearm should have to take training. That training was not mandatory in the past.
This bill makes training mandatory for the possession, acquisition and use of a firearm. While cutting red tape, this measure strengthens our system of registering and possessing firearms.
However, that is not all. We are introducing another measure that allows law enforcement agencies to share information regarding investigations into illegally imported restricted and prohibited firearms.
We want to make sure that the illegal weapons that are in our streets and used for criminal purposes are taken out of circulation. This is also included in the bill. Both the RCMP and CBSA will break down the barriers, the silos, that prevented the sharing of information.
What is more, importers will be required to report any gun imports into Canada. This measure will eliminate a loophole that existed before and will provide a significant tool for removing illegal handguns from our streets.
A study from British Columbia found that thousands of firearms had been diverted to the black market due to this loophole. It is time we closed that information-sharing gap exploited by criminals.
I hope the opposition will consider those sound measures in the bill and will certainly be interested in bringing this bill to committee, so we can discuss those very important measures.
However, that is not all. I must say, regarding the import of illegal firearms, that this issue has been raised with me by my provincial counterparts, and I am pleased to address it in this legislation.
We are tackling the criminal use of firearms instead of focusing on those who practise traditional activities and obey the law.
There is a third measure that I believe is important. We are going to establish orders prohibiting the possession of firearms for persons found guilty of domestic violence. In cases of serious domestic violence, those found guilty will automatically receive a prohibition order for life.
According to a 2013 report, Measuring violence against women: Statistical trends, spouses and dating partners were the most common perpetrators in violent crime against women.
Our legislation is clear. We are eliminating needless red tape while making our gun control regime make good common sense.
Let us be clear. From now on, a person found guilty of domestic violence on indictment will automatically lose his licence to possess a firearm.
We are putting forward safe and sensible firearms policies. That is why there is such strong support for this important legislation. We have spoken with people from all walks of life.
This afternoon, I am very proud to be here with the member for Yorkton—Melville, who was elected in 1993 and who has been a strong advocate of law-abiding citizens, while maintaining tough sentences for criminals. He is right here with us today.
We as a party have abolished the ineffective long gun registry, but we need to do more. We need to take another step. We need to streamline our processes, cut into red tape, and bring some improvements in through this bill to make our country safer. This is what this bill would accomplish.
The member for Yorkton—Melville has been an incredible advocate for law-abiding firearms owners. This place will lose an excellent legislator when he retires in 2015.
I would also like to thank the committee members from my party, who gave me a lot of advice. We have former police officers, for example, who served with the provincial police or the RCMP. I also want to thank the members of the Canadian Firearms Advisory Committee for providing me with valuable information and showing me the importance of handling firearms carefully and obeying the law.
I am thinking about Greg Farrant, president of the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, Alain Cossette of the Fédération québécoise des chasseurs et pêcheurs, Tony Bernardo and Bob Rich, a former police officer. These individuals helped us arrive at a balanced bill that makes our country safer and reduces red tape for law-abiding citizens.