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441-01442 (Justice)

Petition to the House of Commons

Whereas:

  • Bill C-21 is an afront to the private property rights of Canadians;
  • The historically-grounded right to own firearms has been reaffirmed under Canadian common law;
  • The bill unfairly targets hunters, recreational sport-shooters, and law-abiding firearm owners;
  • Bill C-21 does nothing to combat illegal gun smuggling or violent gun crime; and
  • The Liberal-NDP coalition are unnecessarily restricting the rights of law-abiding firearm owners.

Therefore, we the undersigned, citizens of Canada, call upon House of Commons to vote against Bill C-21.

Response by the Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): PAM DAMOFF, M.P.

Canadians deserve to be safe in their communities. That’s why the Government of Canada is taking action on gun violence with a comprehensive plan that gets firearms off our streets and puts more resources into our neighbourhoods, while respecting hunters and law-abiding gun owners. A central part of this work is addressing the assault-style firearms that have been used in the worst tragedies in our country’s history.

Firearms violence is a complex issue affecting Canadians in both urban and rural settings and implicates various types of firearms. As part of a comprehensive approach to address gun violence and strengthen gun laws in Canada, the Government has introduced Bill C-21, which represents the most significant changes to gun control legislation in more than 40 years. The objective and spirit of Bill C-21 is to enhance public safety through targeted firearms control and, since its introduction, the Government has made clear commitments to take further action to protect Canadians and our communities from gun violence.

Despite a long history of handgun regulation in Canada, handgun violence continues to inflict significant damage to Canadians and communities. Handguns are the weapon of choice in most firearm-related crimes, which is why limiting the number of handguns is a critical part of the Government’s plan to protect Canadians from gun violence. In order to strengthen handgun control across Canada, Bill C-21 includes measures that would essentially cap the domestic lawful handgun market in Canada by freezing the sale, purchase, or transfer of handguns by individuals within Canada and prevent individuals from bringing newly acquired firearms into Canada. The freeze on the sale, purchase or transfer of handguns by individuals within Canada, and on the importation of newly acquired handguns into Canada, came into force by regulatory amendments pursuant to the Firearms Act on October 21, 2022.

Bill C-21 puts the safety of Canadians first by recognizing that handgun use is appropriate in some situations and providing for limited exceptions from the national freeze on handguns.

When Bill C-21 was introduced, the Government noted the intention to continue working to ensure a comprehensive ban of assault-style firearms. In November 2022, amendments were proposed to accomplish this. The core intent of the amendments was to prohibit assault-style firearms that are not suitable for civilian use, and not to target firearms that are commonly used for hunting. The proposed amendments generated significant debate and legitimate concerns in society, and were withdrawn to create an opportunity to further consult with Canadians.

Following weeks of discussion with Canadians and after having talked with hunter association and organization representing law abiding gun owner, the government, on May 1, 2023 took another decisive step to address gun violence. A series of new enhanced measures to strengthen Bill C-21 and cement in law a permanent ban on new assault-style firearms from entering Canada were announced. In addition to proposed amendments, the government also announced its intention to re-establish the Canadian Firearms Advisory Committee, and through regulations, require that manufacturers seek a Firearms Reference Table number before being allowed to sell in Canada.

On May 12, 2023, the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security (SECU) adopted the revised amendments to Bill C-21. The proposed measures would add a new prospective technical definition to the definition of “prohibited firearm” in the Criminal Code;  address the growing threat of illegally manufactured firearms, otherwise known as “ghost guns”; and include a specific provision stating that nothing proposed in Bill C-21 derogates from the rights of Indigenous peoples recognized and affirmed under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

Bill C-21 passed Third Reading in the House of Commons on May 18, 2023. It has now been referred to the Senate and the government looks forward to its speedy passage.

Our Government recognizes the traditional and cultural importance of hunting for Indigenous communities and we are committed to ensuring that laws that are proposed or enacted do not prevent Indigenous Peoples from participating in a certain activity or practice that is integral and distinctive to their culture.

Our Government recognizes the legal civilian ownership of firearms for hunters, competitive and recreational sport shooters and collectors. We are committed to working with the all Canadians to identify a sensible approach that prioritizes public safety, supports effective police work and community programming and treats everyone in a fair and reasonable manner.

No single program or initiative can tackle the challenge of gun violence alone. Bill C-21 is part of the Government of Canada’s comprehensive strategy to address gun violence and strengthen gun control in Canada. This includes legislative measures in the Bill to combat firearms trafficking and smuggling such as the higher maximum penalties from 10 to 14 years, the most severe penalties short of a life sentence. The Government has also invested over $920 million throughout the last six years in targeted initiatives to address gun and gang violence. This includes over $312 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, to support efforts by Public Safety, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to identify smuggled firearms at the border and through firearms tracing. Among other things, this funding will increase capacity to trace firearms and provide additional resources to target firearms smuggling and trafficking by equipping the RCMP and the CBSA with the necessary tools and resources, such as x-ray machines and parcel scanners, to prevent illegal firearms from entering Canada. Further, $125 million is being provided to law enforcement agencies to increase capacity in priority areas, ensure front line officers have access to an integrated suite of resources to support firearms investigations, as well as to help prevent illegal firearms from coming into the country.

With these initiatives, the Government is taking concrete steps to our country less vulnerable to firearms violence while being fair to responsible firearms owners and businesses.

Presented to the House of Commons
Cheryl Gallant (Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke)
May 11, 2023 (Petition No. 441-01442)
Government response tabled
August 16, 2023
Photo - Cheryl Gallant
Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke
Conservative Caucus
Ontario

Only validated signatures are counted towards the total number of signatures.

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