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441-00221 (Justice)

PETITION TO THE GOVERNMENT OF CANADA

WHEREAS

  • The federal government has introduced Bill C-21, which includes sections prohibiting the majority of replica firearms, such as Airsoft guns, and embedding in legislation Order in Council P.C. 2020-298 of May 1, 2020 which prohibits and limits the possession of firearms listed therein;
  • Bill C-21 will criminalize hundreds of thousands of law-abiding Canadians for possessing legally obtained firearms;
  • Bill C-21 will financially devastate thousands of Canadians reliant on the sale of firearms for all or part of their income;
  • Hunting has a longstanding history in Canada, for both Indigenous and non-indigenous Canadians, and needlessly revoking citizens' firearms erases and discounts our history and traditions;
  • The vast majority of gun crimes are committed with illegally obtained firearms, and confiscating firearms from law abiding citizens does nothing to stop dangerous criminals and gangs who obtain their guns illegally;

THEREFORE:

We, the undersigned citizens of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to stop targeting law abiding citizens for possessing legally obtained firearms, to protect the rights and freedoms of Canadians by ensuring firearms legislation is based on evidence not ideology, and to withdraw Bill C-21.

Response by the Minister of Public Safety

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Pam Damoff, M.P.

Reply

In cities across Canada, firearms violence is on the rise. Addressing the devastating effects of gun and gang violence is a priority shared by all Canadians.

Former Bill C-21, introduced in February 2021, was a comprehensive suite of initiatives to combat firearms crime and enhance gun control in Canada. Due to the dissolution of Parliament in 2021, the Bill died on the order paper.

With respect to replica firearms, former Bill C-21 proposed to close a gap. The current definition of “replica firearm” in the Criminal Code, in force since 1998, only applies to low-velocity firearms (approximately 366 feet per second (fps) or less), such as pellet guns. These low-velocity firearms may not be imported, exported, transferred or sold in Canada, with limited exceptions for some businesses that have the necessary authorizations to sell replicas to other businesses (e.g., in the movie industry). For twenty years, the Canadian Association of Chief of Police (CACP) has called on the Government of Canada to close the “loophole” on the sale and importation of indistinguishable replica firearms. In their opinion, these can either be mistaken for, or converted into, deadly weapons, and have been used in crimes which compromise public safety. In response to the former Bill C-21, the CACP’s statement read that “we also agree with implementing initiatives that target the criminal use and diversion of firearms to the illicit market by prohibiting the importation, exportation and sale of ‘replica’ firearms, something the CACP urged the government to do in a resolution passed by our membership back in 2000.”

On May 1, 2020, our government banned over 1,500 models and variants of assault-style firearms. In making the regulations to ban the now prohibited firearms, we considered that the significant risk these firearms pose to public safety outweighs any justification for their continued use and availability within Canada. Numerous other types of firearms remain available for hunting or sport shooting purposes.

Our government put in place an amnesty order to protect owners of assault-style rifles from criminal liability, and to provide them with time to come into compliance with the law. For the duration of the amnesty period, in effect until October 30, 2023, sustenance hunters and individuals exercising their s.35 rights may continue to use a now prohibited firearm to hunt if the firearm was, on April 30, 2020, previously classified as a non-restricted firearm.

Our government has invested $125M through the Initiative to Take Action against Gun and Gang Violence to enhance the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s (RCMP) and the Canadian Border Services Agency’s (CBSA) capacity to detect and disrupt gun smuggling. These investments are working and have resulted in increased gun seizures and arrests thanks to the hard-working members of the RCMP and the CBSA.

We are investing a further $312 million over five years, beginning this year, including $40 million for the RCMP to combat smuggling, $15 million for tracing, and over $21 million for CBSA equipment and intelligence sharing.

That said, it is important to recognize that, in 2020, of the over 4,000 seized firearms that were traced by Canadian law enforcement, 58% were domestically sourced. This means that there also needs to be a focus on guns that are straw purchased (bought legally and then diverted to the black market), stolen, or legally owned and used in crime here in Canada.

Furthermore, to help stop gun violence before it starts we are investing $250 million through the Building Safer Communities Fund to help municipalities and Indigenous communities prevent gun and gang violence by tackling its root causes.

Our Government will also re-introduce legislation to: prevent firearm-related deaths in cases of family violence and self-harm; increase criminal penalties to target those that smuggle and traffic firearms; make it an offence to alter a gun magazine; enable police information-sharing needed to investigate firearms offences; and prevent illegal ammunition from entering our country.

These are but some of the steps our government has taken towards addressing gun crime in this country, but there is more to be done. Our government will continue to listen to law enforcement, survivors of gun violence and public health experts to keep our communities safe.

Presented to the House of Commons
Brad Vis (Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon)
March 21, 2022 (Petition No. 441-00221)
Government response tabled
May 4, 2022
Photo - Brad Vis
Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon
Conservative Caucus
British Columbia

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