The Liberal government is getting strong pushback after introducing an amendment to Bill C-21 in a surprise late move that would constitute the largest gun prohibition in Canadian legislative history.
The amendment, introduced last week in committee by Liberal MP Paul Chiang, proposes to ban millions of hunting rifles with a new prohibition of any ‘rifle or shotgun, that is capable of discharging centre-fire ammunition in a semi-automatic manner and that is designed to accept a detachable cartridge magazine with a capacity greater than five cartridges.’
“The federal government is laser-focused on regulating firearms that are rarely used in the commission of crimes and punishing Canadians who are the least likely to commit crimes,” said Jesse Zeman, Executive Director of the 44,000-member B.C. Wildlife Federation in a media release Thursday.
“Meanwhile, gang violence and gang related murders are the highest on record since Canada started tracking it in 2005.”
The B.C. Wildlife Federation said that about 74 per cent of gang-related murders are committed with guns, most with a handgun, according to Statistics Canada.
“The government knows that gang-related crime is through the roof, but their proposed regulation targets the wrong people and misleads Canadians about the perpetrators of gun crime,” said Zeman.
“Gangsters don’t follow the rules, so more rules are not going to address the problem.”
Rob Morrison, Conservative MP for Kootenay Columbia, said that hunting rifles are not the problem.
Morrison said that no one believes going after hunters, and legitimate hunting rifles, will reduce violent crime across the country.
“This is the largest assault on hunters in Canadian history,” Morrison said in a media release.
“This ban is sneaky and underhanded. By moving this significant change to legislation at the committee amendments stage, the Liberals did not allow a democratic debate or experts to weigh in on the ban.”
The BCWF said that Bill C-21 was originally introduced by the government to implement a mandatory buyback program for so-called “assault-style” firearms. The original list of affected firearms included more than 2,000 models, the vast majority of which are used for hunting.
The BCWF said that changes proposed this week expand the definition of a prohibited firearm to include semi-automatic rifles and shotguns “designed to accept a detachable cartridge magazine with a capacity greater than five cartridges of the type for which the firearm was originally designed.”
The amendments proposed will affect millions of hunting and sporting firearms, according to the Canadian Coalition for Firearms Rights. Those firearms are worth at least $3 billion, including $1 billion worth of inventory in the hands of small businesses across the country.
Confiscating these lawfully owned firearms will cost Canadians between $1 billion and $5 billion, according to a Fraser Institute study. Plus, it will cost up to $750 million in compensation to legal owners, according to the Parliamentary Budget Office. More than $200 million will be spent to destroy these firearms.
The BCWF said that’s a big investment for a display that experts agree will have little to no impact on crime.
“Banning and buying back rifles that are used for hunting and sport shooting by licensed firearms owners will have no impact on crime at all,” said Zeman.
“The federal government should focus on the real roots of gun crime: Gangs and smugglers, neither of whom will be affected by these changes.”
“Banning and buying back rifles that are used for hunting and sport shooting will only affect law-abiding, RCMP-vetted Canadians who rely on wild game to feed their families or enjoy a day at the shooting range,” said Zeman.
“In contrast, smugglers are literally using drones to fly illegal handguns across the border to gangs, and the federal government is looking the other way because investing in better border security isn’t in their political interests.”
Morrison said that instead of going after the illegal guns used by criminals and street gangs, Justin Trudeau and Jagmeet Singh are targeting law abiding hunters and farmers.
“The Liberals have made life easier for violent criminals by repealing mandatory minimum sentences for gun crimes with Bill C-5, have made it easier to get bail with C-75, and have failed to stop the flow of illegal crime guns across the US border,” Morrison explained.
“Their approach has seen violent crime increase 32% since Justin Trudeau took office, with 124,000 more violent crime incidents in 2021 compared to 2015. And gang-related homicides have increased 92%.”
The proposed amendments would turn semi-automatic guns into “prohibited” firearms; meaning that they would need to be kept locked up at all times at a home address registered with the RCMP, could not be fired, and may eventually be subject to confiscation via a federal buyback program.
For the time being, any transporting of the gun would require the owner to first seek an permission from the RCMP.
Failure to do any of this could result in the owner being stripped of their licence and any firearms in their possession – including firearms by the ban.