Original language of petition: English
Canadians deserve to live in a society where they can feel safe and secure from gun violence. The Government ofCanada 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-styleassault rifles. The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) 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.” In September 2019, 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.” The current president of the CACP even declared that “Canadian Chiefs believe that this finds balance, it ensures the safety of our members when they respond to calls for service.”
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 made a promise to Canadians and we have delivered. We have been clear that our prohibition will not impact the activities of law-abiding hunters or sport shooters. We have also signaled our intent to implement a buyback program that will provide fair compensation to affected owners. We are looking at a range of options, and will work with Parliament as well as the provinces and territories 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 are taking to target firearm-related crime in this country. We know that firearms-related violence is complex and must be addressed comprehensively. That is why our Government introduced Bill C-21, which proposes amendments to the Firearms Act and the CriminalCode that would build on the Government’s previous actions to promote the safety of Canadians while protecting the privileges associated with lawful firearms ownership. These include:
In recognition of the public safety threat posed by gun smuggling, the Bill also includes provisions that would increase the maximum penalties for trafficking and smuggling offences, moving them from 10 years to 14 years imprisonment.
We welcome the support of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police who “wholeheartedly endorse all efforts to strengthen border controls and impose stronger penalties to combat firearms smuggling and trafficking”.
Just recently, we announced that we will be re-establishing the Cross-Border Crime Forum with the U.S. while exploring the creation of a cross-border task force which to address gun smuggling and trafficking.
Following hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts to our agencies by the previous Conservative government, we are also 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.
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 are also making important investments in our communities to reduce gun and gang violence. More than $200 million is now flowing directly to 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. We will help create safer communities by giving young people the opportunities and resources they need to resist lives of crime by providing an additional $250 million over five years to municipalities and Indigenous communities to support youth programming.
Our government will continue working to enhance public safety by focusing on prevention, effective law enforcement and strong community partnerships
The ability to prescribe firearms as prohibited or restricted by regulation has existed for several decades. The May 1, 2020, changes to prohibit certain assault-style firearms were done as part of a larger strategy to combat gun crime and reflects the Government’s mandate commitment to ban assault style firearms, address gun violence and keep Canadians safe. Canada has experienced a number of mass shootings in major metropolitan areas such as Quebec City, Montreal and Toronto. Whether at home or abroad, the deadliest mass shootings have been commonly perpetrated with assault-style firearms. These events contributed to growing concern for public safety and increased public demand for measures to address gun violence and mass shootings, particularly to address the use of assault-style firearms that are not suitable for civilian use.
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 on the same date.
On February 16, 2021, Bill C- 21, An Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms) was introduced. If passed, it would provide an option for owners of the newly prohibited firearms to keep their firearm. However, possession would be subject to strict conditions including no permitted use, no import, no further acquisition, no sale and no bequeathal in addition to other requirements. The Government has also announced its intention to introduce a buyback program.
Reducing firearms smuggling and trafficking into Canada is a key part of the Government’s fight to reduce access to illegal firearms. Smuggled firearms make their way into the hands of criminals and are often used to commit serious offences tied to organized crime, such as drug trafficking. That is why Bill C-21 proposes to increase maximum penalties of imprisonment from 10 to 14 years for firearms smuggling, trafficking and other related offences.
The Government is also implementing effective measures with respect to strengthening firearm regulations and gun and gang initiatives that prioritize public safety. In the 2020 Fall Economic Statement, the Government committed $250 million over five years to directly support municipalities and Indigenous communities to help protect Canadians from gun violence and support anti-gang programming and prevention programs for youth-at-risk.
Only validated signatures are counted towards the total number of signatures.
|Province / Territory||Signatures|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||2444|
|Prince Edward Island||576|