Madam Speaker, today I rise to speak on Bill C-71, an act to amend certain acts and regulations in relation to firearms.
While the Liberals tell us this bill is all about tackling gun violence and violent gang activity, we see nothing at all in it even remotely touching on these issues. Instead, the Liberals are planning to unload even more excessive regulations on law-abiding gun owners, treating them as if they were real criminals. Once again, as we have seen all too often in this place, with the policies and the bill that the Liberal government has introduced, they have their priorities mixed up and are punishing hard-working, law-abiding Canadians instead of addressing the problems facing people across this country.
With respect to gun violence, this bill quite noticeably leaves the problems of gang violence, illegal gun trading, and rural crime totally unresolved. It is shameful. The Liberals do not touch on these very important issues at all. How then can they claim the bill accomplishes anything other than making criminals out of law-abiding gun owners across this country.
The first troubling thing about Bill C-71 is that it does nothing at all, as I mentioned, to address gang gun violence in this country. While the bill seeks to implement mandatory registries or transfers of non-restricted firearms to be kept by businesses and other firearms vendors, which by the way is a practice already being done voluntarily by many businesses in this country, it does not propose solutions to the problems of gang violence and criminal gun violence.
These are very worrisome problems that deserve a real response from the government, instead of a bill demonizing law-abiding gun owners. Public Safety Canada notes that shooting-related homicides remain a chronic problem in this country even though overall crime rates have gone down compared to previous decades.
We take particular note that Public Safety Canada has specifically highlighted the enormous role that gang-related gun violence plays in this national trend. The department states:
Gang-related murders involving guns is no exception. In 2016 alone, police reported 141 gang-related homicides, 45 more than in 2015.
The department also states that gun violence is increasing in rural areas. We certainly know that in my province of Saskatchewan. In Canada, three out of 10 violent gun crimes happen outside a major city. Overall, the territories and my province of Saskatchewan have the highest rates of firearms-related violent crimes.
Criminals are not registering their guns by legally obtaining them in gun shops. They are not phoning the office of the chief firearms officer before transporting their guns in their cars. Gang members are not the ones who are going to be following the regulations outlined in Bill C-71.
This bill will only be a major thorn in the side of law-abiding gun owners and, as a result, it will do nothing to prevent the criminal gun violence being perpetuated by gangs and is the occurring increasingly in rural Canada. In Saskatoon alone, gun violence is on the rise, according to the Saskatoon Police Service.
The Saskatoon Police Service says that shootings are often gang related. Where are gang members getting their guns from? That is the million dollar question. Are they walking into gun stores and going through an extensive background check? Are they making sure their purchases are kept in the 20-year business registries, which under this bill will hold detailed information, including their personal information, the reference number of their purchase, and the serial number of their firearm?
Not according to the Saskatoon police and their Superintendent David Haye, who says that the firearms police are recovering generally come from break and enters.
Unsurprisingly, when it comes to guns, criminals do not act like law-abiding gun owners. Criminals act like criminals. We know that, but the Liberals seem to be missing this consideration in Bill C-71. Piling a backdoor gun registry onto law-abiding gun owners by mandating that gun sellers keep a 20-year-long registry of all their transfers for non-restricted firearms does nothing at all to prevent gun crime, precisely because of the way criminals act, not the way those who are following the rules do. The Liberals expect, with the bill before us, that gang members will suddenly begin acting like law-abiding gun owners as soon as it is passed. It is an absurd assumption, and it proves once again that the Liberal government has its priorities totally backwards when it comes to the very important issues of gun violence and organized crime in this country.
The second really worrisome thing about the bill is that it would increase the regulatory burden on responsible law-abiding gun owners without providing any real benefit for Canadians in return. Canadian gun laws are already vast and extensive.
In order to legally purchase a gun in this country a person must have a possession and acquisition licence. They go through extensive background checks and firearm safety training before they can even get a licence. They must submit references to the RCMP from those who can vouch for their suitability as a gun owner. They must then submit this information to a photo guarantor who can confirm that the photo sent by the licence candidate is completely accurate. Once a Canadian acquires a possession and acquisition licence, they are then subject to an automatic daily background check that is run through police and courthouse databases. The RCMP notes that these daily checks determine if there is any new information indicating that a licence holder may have become a public safety risk.
Nonetheless, the Liberals still want to implement a backdoor registry. We all know that they do. They are still determined to treat law-abiding Canadian gun owners as if they are the problem, and as if they are the ones responsible for gun violence in this country. This is totally unacceptable, and it is unfair to Canadians who obey the laws, such as hunters and sport shooters.
None of the measures proposed in the bill even tackle the issue of violent gun crime. The bill would simply impose additional burdens upon respectable gun owners. In fact, a report published by Statistics Canada back in 2012 found that only 4% of administrative firearm violations occurring in this country that year, and outside of Quebec, were connected to gun violence. The Liberals did not understand when Jean Chrétien was the prime minister that a gun registry did not respond to the problem of gun violence. The Liberals still do not understand that in 2018.
When will the Liberal government finally make the distinction between law-abiding gun owners and the criminals who do not follow these rules? When will the Liberal government actually take meaningful steps to protect Canadians by introducing real legislation to combat gun violence and criminal activity by gangs?
That said, I move:
That the motion be amended by inserting after the word “parties” the following: “,provided that the travel does not exceed 85 calendar days,”