UPDATED: Strengthening Canadians’ Security and Promoting Hunting and Recreational Shooting
All the details of my Bill:
I am one of those people who believe that people don't kill people, guns do. Granted, that is the antithesis of the gun lobby's motto. However, unlike the gun lobby, I am not promoting an industry, or developing a market; I only want to ensure Canadians' safety.
Bill S-231 upholds the four reasons for possessing and acquiring a firearms licence that are already set out in the legislation, namely, employment, self-defence, sport and collecting.
However, the difference between my position, as reflected in my bill, and that of some lobby groups is where to draw the line between authorized firearms and those that should be prohibited or whose use should be limited to only shooting clubs.
Therefore, to ensure the safety of Canadians, I developed Bill S-231 around the idea that all firearms should be prohibited except those used in sport shooting, in a controlled environment such as shooting clubs, as well as hunting firearms and those that are collectors' items.
Therefore, under this bill, any firearms owned by hunters must really be prescribed for hunting – the new definition of hunting firearm that I used in my bill is based on guidance I had from hunters and an instructor with the Canadian Firearms Safety Course and on the British model. Also, I replaced the restricted firearms class with a circumscribed firearms class, and the arms in this class will be usable only in shooting clubs. They must be stored at those clubs and transported by specialized companies. Lastly, I took the current reality into account in establishing some exceptions.
A hunting firearm is defined as any firearm with a smoothbore or striated barrel that is more than 470 mm long, in other words a shotgun or rifle. Semi-automatic weapons are not included in the definition of hunting firearm, with the exception of 22 calibre rim-fire semi-automatic rifles.
Bill S-231 repeals the privilege of those with a possession and acquisition licence to keep at their dwelling-house any centre-fire calibre semiautomatic rifles. However, Bill S-231 does not prohibit the right to use such rifles. Those who are passionate about handling these rifles and would like to continue pursuing their passion can do so at shooting ranges where these rifles are stored and where courses are generally taught.
A circumscribed firearm is any firearm, other than a prohibited firearm, that has a barrel equal to or less than 470 millimetres, such as handguns or firearms that are capable of discharging centre-fire ammunition in a semi-automatic manner.
I am not against firearms. I am not denying the fact that some Aboriginal peoples have retained a way of life based on hunting and fishing. I also realize that hunting and fishing are part of Canadian culture, but overall, we are no longer living in pioneer days.
A simple comparison with our neighbours to the south brings home the stark reality. The firearm death rate in the United States, a country with very weak gun control laws, was 10.3 per 100,000 population in 2011. That amounts to 32,163 deaths in one year. That would be the number of deaths if 20 towers, like those of the World Trade Center, were to collapse every year in the United States. There were 2,977 victims on September 11, 2001.
In Canada, firearm deaths for the same year, 2011, totalled 679, or 1.9 per 100,000 population; that's 1.9 in Canada and 10.3 in the U.S., and that was under a system that the Liberals developed.
In 1988, the Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of the United Kingdom banned most semi-automatic firearms following the Hungerford massacre; in contrast, the day after the Moncton killings that left three RCMP officers dead and another two injured, Canada, under Stephen Harper, granted additional privileges to owners of restricted firearms under Bill C-42, including repealing authorizations to transport.
The British gun control policies have had some impressive results. In 2011, there were just 38 gun deaths in Britain for 63 million inhabitants, while in the same year, Canada had 153 gun deaths for 34 million inhabitants. It has been proven that guns, not people, kill people, unlike what the gun lobby claims.
Bill S-231 is bold and progressive. Through this bill, I intend to accomplish the following:
These measures will strengthen our gun control policy and ensure the safety of Canadians.
As the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously stated in 2005 in R. v. Wiles, in Canada, the possession and acquisition of firearms is a privilege, not a right. As far as I know, Canada did not have a civil war, and our American neighbours still do not seem to understand that theirs ended a century and a half ago.
I introduced this bill because I believe that a progressive vision of Canada is not only desirable but possible. This bill can be used a starting point for any government or non-governmental organization that, tomorrow, may want to stop the Conservative government from blindly forging ahead and electioneering by constantly passing legislation to please the firearms industry.
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I oppose the Conservative philosophy and the gun lobby’s belief that better access to firearms ensures better security. It's just the opposite. However, I respect the hunters and sports shooters.
I tabled Bill S-231 to promote the activities of hunting and sport shooting while strengthening the security of Canadians.
Through my bill, titled “Strengthening Canadians’ Security and Promoting Hunting and Recreational Shooting Act”, I intend to accomplish the following:
- overhaul the current firearms program by prohibiting all firearms in Canada except hunting firearms;
- redefine the three classes of firearms by making all firearms illegal except hunting firearms and by localizing the prohibition of restricted firearms (circumscribed firearms);
- limit the definition of hunting firearms to the arms that really used for the purposes of hunting;
- replace restricted firearms class with a circumscribed firearms class and the arms of this class will be only usable at or in shooting clubs;
- replace the registration certificate with an inscription certificate;
- reinforce the role of the RCMP and the Commissioner of Firearms under a statutory provision.
- limit the transport of circumscribed firearms to transporters, thus controlling the movement of firearms in Canada; and
- undo all the provisions of Bill C-42, except for the prohibition on obtaining a licence to possess and acquire firearms following a domestic violence conviction.
In 2005, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled unanimously in R. v. Wiles that in Canada to acquire or possess a firearm is a "privilege" and not a right.