Skip to main content Start of content
Start of content

431-00267 (Democratic process)

Paper petition

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the House of Commons

We, the undersigned citizens of Canada, draw the attention of the House of Commons to the following:

Whereas, virtually all violent gun crime committed in Canada (including the recent shooting in Nova Scotia) involves illegal firearms, in the hands of those who are already not permitted to possess them;

Whereas the government must take action to strengthen enforcement, fight gun smuggling, and keep guns out of the hands of violent people;

Whereas targeting law-abiding citizens who have already demonstrated that they have the knowledge and character required to use guns safely will not improve public safety;

And whereas taking away the property of law-abiding citizens is a distraction from the important work that needs to be done keeping guns out of the hands of criminals.

We the undersigned therefore, urge the House of Commons and the Government of Canada to:

  • Reverse the Order in Council banning certain firearms imposed on May 1st;
  • Propose measures that will effectively address the illegal use of firearms by criminals, while respecting the rights of law-abiding citizens;
  • Ensure that substantial changes to Canada's firearms laws are only ever made by Parliament, not by the government or the RCMP acting unilaterally.

Response by the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Joël Lightbound, M.P

Canadians deserve to live in a society where they can feel safe and secure from gun violence. The Government of Canada has prohibited assault-style firearms as they are not reasonable for hunting or sport shooting purposes given the inherent danger that they pose to public safety. The prohibition limits access to the most dangerous firearms that are characterized by their design and their capability of inflicting significant harm to Canadians. The prohibition reduces the number and availability of assault style firearms and other firearms that exceed safe civilian use in Canada, and lowers the possibility of these firearms being diverted to the illegal market.

For decades chiefs of police had been advocating for additional restrictions, and even a prohibition, of military-style assault rifles. The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police previously passed a resolution declaring that military assault rifles were produced for the “sole purpose of killing people in large numbers” and asked the Minister of Justice to “ban all military assault rifles except for law enforcement and military purposes.” Last September the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police expressed support for a prohibition on all military-designed assault rifles, averring that “these weapons have no place in our communities and should be reserved for use by Canada’s military and law enforcement.” Following the prohibition of these weapons, Toronto’s police chief also declared that “taking military assault style rifles off the streets contributes to public safety.”

Through Section 117.15 of the Criminal Code, Parliament provides the Government with the authority to prescribe the classification of firearms. We have exercised that authority to benefit the safety and security of Canadians, within limits set by Parliament. The affected firearms are prohibited as they (1) have semi-automatic action with sustain rapid-fire capability (tactical/military design with large magazine capacity), (2) are of modern design, and (3) are present in large volumes in the Canadian market. This authority has existed for decades and has been exercised several times over the years including by the previous Conservative Government.

We have been clear that our prohibition will be fair to law-abiding hunters or sport shooters. We have also signaled our intent to implement a buyback program that will provide compensation to affected owners. We are looking at a range of options, and will work with Parliament as well as the provinces and territories (PTs) to get this right for law-abiding gun owners and businesses.

While the prohibition is a crucial first step, it is only one of a series of measures that we will to take to target firearm-related crime in this country. At the first opportunity we will introduce legislation that will strengthen gun control. We intend to introduce a red-flag regime in order to better protect public safety, strengthen firearms storage requirements to deter theft, enhance police tracing capacity, and work with our partners from other levels of government to give municipalities the ability to further restrict handguns.

We are also committed to combatting gun-related violence and gang activities and to strengthening border security, and increasing police anti-gang capacities. This will build on work that is already underway.

We announced funding of up to $327.6 million over five years through the Initiative to Take Action Against Gun and Gang Violence (the Initiative) to combat gun-related violence and gang activities, including by supporting law enforcement and community-led projects focused on prevention.

More than $200 million is now flowing directly to PTs to target initiatives that best meet the unique needs of individual communities to advance efforts in areas of prevention, gang exit, outreach and awareness training as well as enhanced intelligence sharing and law enforcement capacity. With the funding allocations, jurisdictions have made investments to support new law enforcement activities including specialized training and education initiatives and improving data collection and information sharing. PTs have also prioritized a number of prevention intervention initiatives. Building on these achievements, our Government has committed to investing additional funding to help municipalities meet the needs of communities at risk to fight gang-related violence and expand diversion programs to keep youth out of the criminal justice system.

The Government knows that the cross-border smuggling of firearms also poses a threat to the safety and security of Canadians. We are committed to taking action to prevent smuggled guns from entering Canada. We will introduce tougher penalties for trafficking and smuggling offences and will continue to make important investments in the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to strengthen border controls and reduce the number of guns being smuggled across the our borders. These initiatives will build on work that is already underway.

Following hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts to our agencies by the previous Conservative government, we are rebuilding capacity. The CBSA is receiving $51.5 million over five years through the Initiative to Take Action Against Gun and Gang Violence to enhance its capacity to stem the flow of inadmissible travellers and illegal firearms entering Canada at vulnerable points of entry and through postal facilities. It is also procuring equipment to enhance air cargo security and pallet imaging, intelligence collection and production abilities, and improving border operations through measures aimed at enhancing the CBSA’s capacity to detect and interdict illegal firearms at the border. The CBSA continues to work with key domestic and US law enforcement partners to generate leads, as well as support and assist with interdiction efforts.

In addition, the RCMP is receiving $34.5 million through the Initiative to Take Action Against Gun and Gang Violence to enhance its capacity to conduct investigations related to the criminal use of firearms as well as to provide law enforcement with enhanced access to training, technology and data to keep illicit firearms out of Canada and detect and report on criminal gang activities. The RCMP has created the Integrated Criminal Firearms Initiative to expand and enhance existing services available to support firearms investigations nationwide. This includes providing anonymous online capabilities to investigate firearms trafficking and smuggling, conducting physical firearms inspections, enhancing analytical capacity to develop and produce actionable intelligence, and supporting stakeholder outreach among partners to advance focused initiatives. The RCMP is also prioritizing strategic intelligence analysis related to street gangs and the procurement of advanced technologies to expedite and further support the analysis of ballistics and illicit manufacturing of firearms.

We will continue working to enhance public safety by focusing on prevention, effective law enforcement and strong community partnerships.

Response by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable David Lametti

Pursuant to the mandate letters of the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Public Safety, work is ongoing towards the implementation of a robust set of firearms commitments, including a prohibition on military-style assault rifles with a two-year Criminal Code amnesty and buy-back program, and imposing stronger Criminal Code penalties for gun smuggling.

On May 1, 2020, the Governor in Council promulgated regulations prohibiting certain assault-style firearms on the basis that they: (1) have semi-automatic action with sustained rapid-fire capability (tactical/military design with large magazine capacity; (2) are of modern design; and (3) are present in large volumes in the Canadian market. The Governor in Council has had the power to prescribe firearms as prohibited or restricted by regulation for several decades. This power was re-enacted in section 117.15 of the Criminal Code, which received Royal Assent in 1998, and this is the power used to make these regulations.

In making the regulations, the Governor in Council was of the view that these firearms are not reasonable for hunting or sports shooting because of the risk that they pose to public safety.

An accompanying two-year Amnesty Order to protect law-abiding gun owners from criminal prosecution until they can come into compliance with the law was also made. 

The Government has also announced its intention to introduce a buy-back program.

The Government knows that the cross-border smuggling of firearms also poses a threat to the safety and security of Canadians. The Government is committed to taking action to prevent smuggled guns from entering Canada and also for introducing tougher penalties for trafficking and smuggling offences, in addition to continuing to make important investments in the Canada Border Services Agency and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to strengthen border controls and reduce the number of guns being smuggled across the borders. These initiatives will build on work that is already underway.

The Minister of Public Safety has also publicly committed to additional reforms requiring amendments to the Criminal Code, including increased penalties for straw purchasing (a form of firearms trafficking); and, permitting an individual to apply to a court for an emergency weapons prohibition order to apply to another individual, otherwise known as “red flag laws.”

The Government has made available funding of up to $327.6 million over five years through the Initiative to Take Action Against Gun and Gang Violence to combat gun-related violence and gang activities, including by supporting law enforcement and community-led projects focused on prevention.

More than $200 million is now flowing directly to the provinces and territories to target initiatives that best meet the unique needs of individual communities to advance efforts in areas of prevention, gang exit, outreach and awareness training as well as enhanced intelligence sharing and law enforcement capacity. With the funding allocations, jurisdictions have made investments to support new law enforcement activities including specialized training and education initiatives and improving data collection and information sharing. 

Provinces and territories have also prioritized a number of prevention intervention initiatives. Building on these achievements, the Government has committed to invest additional funding to help municipalities meet the needs of communities at risk to fight gang-related violence and expand diversion programs to keep youth out of the criminal justice system.

Presented to the House of Commons
Garnett Genuis (Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan)
June 16, 2020 (Petition No. 431-00267)
Government response tabled
September 24, 2020
Photo - Garnett Genuis
Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan
Conservative Caucus
Alberta

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

Disclaimer regarding petitions