Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to yet another Conservative gun bill. We seem to have had a lot of Conservative gun bills in this session of Parliament. Maybe that is because they like them so much, but it is also because the Conservatives are trying to whip up Canadians into a sense of outrage about the, as they call it, red tape around firearms.
It is not red tape when the laws of this country are designed to protect people. The laws of this country are designed to protect people, protect police officers and protect ordinary citizens. One of the ways we protect people is by keeping dangerous firearms out of the hands of people who intend to do bad things with them.
We also protect people by making sure that we cannot confuse, in this case, a BB gun with a real gun. That is part of what would happen as a result of the Conservative amendments to the Criminal Code about firearms storage and transportation. It would become possible for a police officer to become confused over whether or not a gun sitting on somebody's car seat is a BB gun. We do not want a situation to happen where weapons of this ilk become something that could cause confusion and could cause something bad to happen.
The biggest issue facing the folks in my riding with regard to guns is the proliferation of handguns. The proliferation of handguns has happened because the government has reduced the number of people working at the border of this country. As is documented on many occasions, handguns are coming into this country in large numbers, into the hands of children in my riding.
Nothing in the bill would change whether or not the government has the effective resources at the border of this country to prevent children and young people from possessing and using much more dangerous firearms.
I am surprised the Conservatives did not bring the bill forward as a government bill rather than a private member's bill, but that is another problem we are dealing with. Conservatives like to bring forward private members' bills to do government business so there is not enough time to properly debate it.
The bill is part of another process of making sure that the Conservatives can deregulate and de-red tape, in their view, the use of firearms in this country.
In many cases the guns that are being exempted by the government from these regulations could cause serious bodily harm. If they could cause serious bodily harm, they need to be handled safely, transported safely, I believe, in the same manner we would transport any other firearm. However, the government would like some firearms to be exempted from the storage and handling requirements.
It is perhaps a little difficult for some members opposite to understand that these things can, in fact, cause serious bodily harm. While at the same time, we have a porous border that allows literally thousands of handguns to flood the streets of Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and other places, we have the government focused more on making it easier for people to transport guns generally.
This is only one of a series of bills on gun control and gun legislation that have done nothing to protect people, and that is part of what a government is supposed to do, protect people.
The Conservatives have made it easier for Canadians to own guns. They have made it easier for Canadians to own dangerous weapons. They have made it easier for Canadians to not have to let the police know about those guns. They have made it easier for the criminal element in this country to get handguns by getting them across the border, because the border has become so porous. We no longer have the ability to stop these things at the border.
When I go to a grade 10 classroom to talk to them about politics, I ask these 12, 13, 14, 15-year-old kids how many of them own an illegal handgun or know somebody who has one. Half the hands go up in the class. That is the reality we face in my riding. The proliferation of handguns is enormous The current government has done absolutely nothing to stop that flow of handguns at the border. I have not ever gone into a class and had them say, no, nobody has a gun any more. In fact, they repeat it every time I go, and that is because it is becoming so easy to acquire these things.
What is the government doing about it? It is passing laws that would penalize people by putting them in jail for having one, yes. First, however, we have to stop them coming into the country. They are all illegal. The way to stop them being used is to stop them coming into the country. We are not doing that. These are not guns that are being manufactured in a Canadian facility and being given to grade 10 kids. No, that is not what is happening. They are being traded on the black market, in the city of Toronto. That black market is getting literally thousands of firearms from firearms shops in the U.S. that do not care whether or not somebody has proper ID or proper certification.
Anything that the current government does to lessen public safety is something that we will be opposed to. We have analyzed the bill and part of what the bill would do is to lessen public safety.
We do not like lessening public safety when it comes to meat inspections. That has happened under the current Conservative watch.
We do not like the lessening of public safety when it comes to the rail system in this country. We have seen what lessening of public safety does when we had a train derailment in Lac-Mégantic. Forty-seven people were killed and a town was destroyed in Lac-Mégantic. What the Transportation Safety Board, very clearly, said is that the current government had failed, that it had failed to enforce and keep up with the systems that were necessary to ensure that the rail system is safe in this country. It is not getting any better. The Auditor General and the Transportation Safety Board said that rail safety in this country is in a perilous state, as we have seen with the spate of wrecks in the past two years since Lac-Mégantic. We have had Gogama, we have had Gogama a second time, we have had a wreck in New Brunswick, we have had wrecks in Saskatchewan and we have had wrecks all over the States.
These systems that the government claims are the rail safety systems of the future are not doing the job. They are not preventing the massive fireballs that happened. Those trains are still rolling through the centres of cities.
The notion that we should use legislation to make Canadians less safe is something that I will oppose. One of the functions of a proper government, of a government that will be in place in October 2015, when the NDP takes over, will be to protect Canadians, to protect their health, to protect their well-being, to protect their ability to live near a rail corridor, because many Canadians do, and to protect people from illogical and unthought-out changes to the Firearms Act.
It is all well and good to suggest that the changes to firearms storage and transportation is only about BB guns, and that everybody knows that BB guns cannot hurt anybody and why are we getting so upset about BB guns. These things are made to look like real guns. That is what they are. They are real guns. They are something that will hurt somebody quite seriously. When I was young, I was hit with a pellet gun. Luckily, the wound was very superficial because it hit a piece of leather on my shoe before it hit my foot. I was not hospitalized as a result, but I very well could have been. It was merely one of these toy guns that the Conservatives suggest do not need regulation at all.
They can cause serious bodily harm, their confusion makes it difficult for the police to sometimes know what they are and, therefore, we will be opposing the bill.