Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to rise in the House today to speak in favour of Bill C-42, the common sense firearms licensing act. As its name suggests, it would restore a good deal of common sense to our firearms laws.
For too long, hunters and sports shooters have been treated like criminals for simply wanting to take part in their hobby. These activities are a shared part of our Canadian heritage, and a huge part of my northern Ontario heritage. Although I did not move to northern Ontario until the age of 23, I did not realize how huge a part of the heritage it was until it came time for moose, deer and bird hunting season. Life in northern Ontario really revolves around that, the drive to get that moose tag, and the number of American visitors who come to northern Ontario to take part in that, as well as the number of Torontonians who come to northern Ontario in the hopes of bagging a moose. Therefore, it is an incredible part of our heritage.
It is shameful that decades of previous Liberal governments took steps to try to dissuade people from becoming involved in these activities, whether through needless red tape, the possibility of jail time for good faith errors or processes that stigmatized. These measures did nothing at all to keep Canadians safe. I am proud to be part of a government that rejects this idea and has adopted a safe and sensible approach to firearms policies.
What precisely does this mean? It means that we crack down on dangerous criminals who use guns to commit crimes. That is why we have passed tough new measures to combat drive-by shootings. It also means that we reduce needless burdens for those Canadians who work hard and pay by the rules. That is why we ended the wasteful and ineffective long-gun registry once and for all.
It is clear that our approach is working. According to Statistics Canada, the firearms homicide rate in Canada is at its lowest point in nearly 50 years. There has been a 30% decline in the rate of handgun homicides since 2008. In fact, in the year after the gun registry was ended, firearms crime was down by more than 80% in Toronto. This is a strong record of which our Conservative government can be proud. The commons sense firearms act builds on that strong record.
There are three strong measures that will improve public safety.
First and foremost, firearms prohibition orders will be strengthened for those convicted of domestic violence offences. It is clear that having a firearm in a volatile situation like that is dangerous. This change makes good—