Madam Speaker, it is very important that I rise to speak to this bill today for a number of reasons. This bill reflects the will of the House, the will of the committee and the will of Canadians.
On a somewhat personal level, I will say that we are all here as a members of Parliament. Our families have jobs that they do back home, and so do our brothers and sisters and so forth. One of my siblings, one of my brothers, has been a first responder for the Vancouver Police Department for a long time. If I can put a date on it, my brother and the Minister of International Development, the former defence minister, actually went through police training together many decades ago.
I reside in Ontario. My family all resides in British Columbia and, for the longest time, when my brother did his job, I never thought about his safety. Recently though, over the last few years, I do think about his safety quite a bit. My heart goes out to all of those families who have been impacted by gun violence, particularly, of course, the first responders who are doing their job, day in and day out, whether it is in Prince Rupert, Prince George, Halifax, Vaughan or the Lower Mainland in Vancouver as part of the Vancouver Police Department. This legislation we have brought forward, after exhaustive consultation, is another piece of recognizing that we must do something. We must act.
I am glad to see that the committee on public safety has incorporated amendments. I am glad to see that hunters, folks pursuing a traditional way of life, sports shooters and so forth, can continue to do what they do because I know many of them, on both sides, from my time growing up in northern British Columbia in the riding of Skeena—Bulkley Valley. I remember going up to the Skeena River and people going hunting and shooting for moose or deer. As well, in my riding of Vaughan, many folks go up to northern Ontario to go hunting. It is important that they continue to do those pursuits. I am glad to see that.
At the same time, handguns and AR-15 style weapons have no place, in my view, in our society. We need to make sure Canadians feel safe in their community. We need to make sure that Canadians know they are safe and that is what our government is doing.
I wanted to put that thought forward because not a day goes by now when I do not think about my brother on duty and what he does for the Vancouver Police Department keeping the citizens in Vancouver safe. Not a day goes by now that I do not try to call to ask how he is doing and how he and his family and his daughters are doing because that is where we are today. I am glad we are acting.
I am pleased to join the debate on Bill C-21, an act to amend certain acts and to make certain consequential amendments, firearms. We have said all along that this bill is historic. It is the most significant step in gun reform in a generation. Canadians deserve safe, common-sense firearms laws, while, virtually every day, we see media reports of gun violence in our communities.
Each one is a tragedy involving someone, whether a child, a parent, a partner, a friend, a brother or a sister, who was loved and is now missed by their community. That is exactly why we have taken the time to reflect, consult and discuss Bill C-21 with survivors, indigenous communities, industry groups and hunters, and why, after meticulous study and consideration, we recently brought forward amendments to the bill. We know that gun safety cannot wait, but we have been careful to balance the urgency of this bill with the need to get it right. This government has done more than any other to advance gun safety.
Three years ago, we banned 1,500 assault-style firearms, those that have no place outside the battlefield of war. We introduced the bill before us today, Bill C-21. This bill would inscribe into law the national freeze on handguns.
It would target organized crime, with stiffer sentences for trafficking guns and new charges for altering the magazine or cartridge of a gun to exceed its lawful capacity. It would take much needed steps to address the role of firearms in gender-based violence. While there is no obligation for survivors of gender-based violence to use these laws, they can help prevent handguns from falling into the wrong hands and stop needless tragedies before they occur.
Someone who currently or previously had a restraining order against them would no longer be able to obtain a firearms licence. We are proud to introduce new red flag laws that mean courts could take firearms away from those who are a danger to themselves or anyone else. Bill C-21 also contains new yellow flag laws to allow chief firearms officers to suspend an individual's firearms licence if the CFO receives information calling into question their licence eligibility.
Furthermore, with the support of our colleagues in SECU, we adopted amendments that would help protect victims of violence and those at risk of self-harm by a firearm. Firearms licences would be revoked within 24 hours in cases of domestic or intimate partner violence, and there would be new exemptions for those who use a firearm for their employment. When a weapons prohibition order or protection order is issued, this would be reported to authorities within 24 hours. Further, if a person is undergoing a mental health crisis, they would be able to temporarily transfer their firearm to another person or business, helping to keep themselves or their loved ones safe.
Again, survivors of violence are under no obligation to take such actions, and measures would be taken to protect the identity of vulnerable individuals who do provide information to the courts. Canadians' safety is our utmost, paramount concern. Bill C-21 is another step to bring in needed, prudent and necessary measures on ending and preventing gun violence.
We have heard jarring statistics from my colleagues that the more available guns are, the higher the risk of people dying unnecessarily in tragic situations of homicide and suicide. We can all look at the statistics in the United States for that fact. Let me be frank, the only sensible response to these kinds of cold, hard facts is the kind of gun reform we are discussing here today. As soon as we know that something is dangerous and unnecessary, we have an obligation to remove that risk from our communities and protect the people in them. This is particularly true when those who are at highest risk are already marginalized in our society and vulnerable to violent outcomes.
When it comes to assault-style firearms, we are compelled to act now. We know that if the most lethal guns are unavailable for purchase, if they are present in fewer numbers in our communities, we can drastically reduce the number of victims of gun violence. Some folks talk about causation and correlation. One fact we know is that in the United States the use of AR-15 type assault rifles is killing people needlessly. In Canada, we are not going to allow those types of U.S. gun laws to come here. We are going to make sure we have sensible gun laws that make sure that those types of weapons do not exist in our country.
We know that if the most lethal guns are unavailable for purchase, if they are present in fewer numbers in our communities, we can drastically reduce the number of victims of gun violence. This is what Canadians want. The proposed technical definition of prohibited firearms allows us to proactively address advances in the firearms market and keep firearms designed for the battlefield off our streets. Incorporating technical criteria in this definition puts the onus on industry to do their part in protecting our communities from assault-style firearms.
We also brought forward amendments to address emerging threats, such as ghost guns. Bill C-21 would make all illegally manufactured firearms, also known as ghost guns, prohibited firearms, create new offences to prohibit the possession, access, distribution, making available or publication of digital files and blueprints, and regulate the transfer and importation of certain parts to ensure they are not being used to create ghost guns. Again, this is not about taking guns away from responsible handgun owners, hunters or sport shooters. This is about tackling violent crime and preventing senseless, tragic deaths.
That brings me back to the amendments to Bill C-21 we recently introduced that were adopted last week in committee. I applaud the committee members for their hard work on this very important piece of gun safety legislation. It is prudent legislation to prevent needless, senseless deaths by guns. Guns kill people.
As I mentioned earlier, we have taken the time to speak with constituents from coast to coast to coast. It does not matter where one goes in this great country, in every corner, we could find skilled, experienced hunters who are more than happy to chat for hours about how it is more than a hobby for them, how it is been passed down through generations, and how it forms a key part of their culture and way of life.
That is why these latest amendments provide clarity and protections around responsible gun ownership. We are focused on the most pressing issue, keeping Canadians safe. Again, as we have said from the beginning, no single initiative would end gun violence, but Bill C-21 is a major component. It is one of three key pillars of our plan. The second pillar is strengthening resources to tackle gun crime, including smuggling, preventing firearms from entering our borders in the first place and targeting ghost guns. The third pillar is about investing in communities. Initiatives like the national crime prevention strategy, the gun and gang violence action fund, and the building safer communities fund get straight to the roots of violence. They stop it before it starts.
I look forward to questions and comments.