Madam Speaker, I very much appreciate the opportunity to speak on Bill C-21, an act to amend certain acts and to make certain consequential amendments regarding firearms. I am proud to support such crucial legislation, which is going to make a real difference in keeping communities like mine safe and free of gun violence.
Gun violence is on the rise in Canada. It presents a serious and significant threat to communities across the country, in the streets and at home. Every six days, a woman is killed by an intimate partner. This is not just an urban statistic but a rural one. Women in rural Canada are particularly vulnerable to homicide by firearms. When it comes to domestic violence, shotguns and rifles, usually legally obtained and commonly kept in rural homes, have been called “weapons of choice” by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police. In violent homes, these guns are the tools of choice to intimidate and control women living in rural Canada.
The data is clear. Since 2009, violent offences involving guns have increased by 81% and 47% of Canadians say that gun violence poses a serious threat to their community.
There are going to be those who argue that if we regulate guns, we simply penalize law-abiding citizens and gangsters will still get their guns. That is simply not true. Most Canadian mass shooters did not have criminal records and got their guns legally. Let us recap: Fredericton, 2018, no criminal record, four dead; Danforth, 2018, no criminal record, two dead, multiple wounded; Quebec City, no criminal record, six dead, multiple wounded; and the Moncton shooter, 2014, three dead, multiple wounded.
Let us not pretend it is only gangs and illegal weapons that are the problem, because that is simply not true. Here is a sobering stat. The reality is that 75% of gun fatalities have nothing to do with gangs or criminals. It is because they are suicides.
When it comes to kids, let us look at facts. According to the Canadian Medical Association, one child in Ontario is hurt by a gun or firearm every single day, with 7% of those kids ending up dead.
This morning I woke up to an email from Susan, who is from my riding. She wrote me the following email: “Good morning MP Taleeb. Strongly recommend Bill C-21 to be given Royal Assent and pass in Parliament during this session. My brother was shot in his living room several years ago while writing a letter to me that was never completed.”
Susan is a real human being whose family has suffered the real consequences of firearms. This is why we must act. Gun violence affects people in all of our communities, whether rural, urban or suburban and all socio-economic backgrounds. We need to do more. We need to do more to protect our kids, our parents, our neighbours and everyone in between.
Every Canadian deserves to live without fear of violence. We know that inaction on gun control has real consequences. This is why, through Bill C-21, we are taking a national approach to protecting our communities from the harmful effects of gun violence.
Let us be clear about a couple of things. The bill is focused on putting a stop to tragedies, preventing gun crime and keeping our neighbours safe. It is a complex issue that requires a multi-faceted approach. That is exactly what we are doing through Bill C-21, through robust, direct action in key areas that puts in place a diverse strategy on this issue from all sides.
Action on handguns cannot wait. We are putting a national freeze on handguns to address the alarming increase in gun violence to allow a rapid and effective response. This means that, going forward, no one would be able to sell, purchase or transfer handguns by individuals within Canada or bring newly acquired firearms into the country. I want to stress this, because people are going to make a point about this. Legal gun owners would continue to possess and use their registered handguns, and could sell or transfer their registered handguns to exempted individuals or businesses.
The other key pillar of the bill centres on addressing the tragic trend between gender-based violence and guns. We see this link in our workplaces, communities, at home and online. This trend continues to persist. Protecting the safety and security of survivors of violence, particularly intimate partner violence and gender-based violence, is paramount. Victims need to feel heard and supported when they reach out for help.
That's why we are introducing red flag and yellow flag laws and expanding licence revocation. Through red flag laws, survivors can make an application to the courts for an emergency weapons prohibition order to immediately remove firearms for a period of up to 30 days from an individual who poses a danger to themselves or others.
It is also essential as a preventive approach, to ensure that victims of domestic and gender-based violence feel safe, to ensure protective intervention for those experiencing a mental health crisis, and to be able to intervene in cases where people are showing warning signs of violence.
Through yellow flag provisions, an individual's licence can be suspended for up to 30 days.
Combatting gun trafficking and smuggling, and strengthening law enforcement to tackle gun violence are key aspects of our multi-faceted solution. With Bill C-21, we are working to increase the maximum penalties for firearms offences from 10 to 14 years in prison to keep our communities safe.
Taking the necessary steps to ensure we eradicate gun violence across our country will help build safer communities for generations to come. Through Bill C-21, we would ensure kids feel safer walking home from school, women will feel safer when dealing with violent partners, and racialized communities will worry less about being murdered while praying. That is what this bill would do.
This is legislation that might well have prevented the Quebec mosque shooting, the Danforth shooting, and the Moncton and Fredericton shootings. For the victims of gun violence, thoughts and prayers cannot be the best we have, but preventing the next attack by making it harder and harder for firearms to enter our communities would ensure the deaths of those who have passed would not be in vain.