Bill C-21 was tabled February 16, 2021. If the House of Commons pass this legislation, it will affect you as a licensed firearms holder and firearms owner. An election will interrupt the implementation of the legislation. Review the summary points at website https://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/cntrng-crm/frrms/c21-en.aspx or examine in detail https://parl.ca/DocumentViewer/en/43-2/bill/C-21/first-reading Please inform yourself, educate yourself and others, investigate yourself. I only highlight what I think are the three main points below.
Before we start, who does not believe in gun safety? Who does not believe in the legitimate and proper use of firearms? Who wants to eliminate gun and gang violence? Unfortunately, licensed firearms holders are the focus of this new legislation.
The real problem is the illegal importation of guns and their use by criminals and gangs. “3% of all violent crimes involve firearms,” “87% of gang related homicides were committed with a gun,” and “73% of homicides were gang related” [Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence: Yvan Clermont, Director – Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Statistics Canada, February 18, 2019]. Criminals and gang members perpetrate the vast majority of gun violence. They do not follow the law. Would a gang member bother with getting a federal firearms license? To be fair, Bill C-21 specifies some funding for youth at risk who might join gangs, and, there are increased penalties for gun smuggling and trafficking. However, Bill C-21 has no real provision or funding to address gun violence committed by the criminal element. This legislation misses the target audience who should be the criminals and gang members, not law-abiding licensed firearms holders.
Highlight: Bill C-21 – Who Can Apply for Prohibition Orders Enhanced
Bill C-21 formalizes a “red flag” system for suspension and prohibition of firearms. The Bill purports to combat intimate partner, gender based and self-harm violence to protect the public by allowing anyone to apply for a court ordered firearms prohibition based on a “concern” about a licensed firearms holder. While not defined, this “concern,” non-the-less, may result in a suspension, surrender and forfeiture of firearms. A “concern” may result in license prohibition and firearms forfeiture ranging from 30 days to 5 years.
Anyone can report information about a licensed firearms holder to the Chief Firearms Officer (CFO). They may issue a “yellow flag” and suspend the individual’s firearms license for 30 days while they investigate the individual’s eligibility to hold a firearms license. What if a vexatious concern is reported? Bill C-21 is silent and the firearms license holders are still required to surrender firearms pending their legal challenge to their license revocation. Does this approach assume guilt? You must prove your innocence in the courts.
Highlight: Bill C-21 – Do I have to Surrender my May 1, 2020 Prohibited Firearms? NO but with a Big Catch!
Licensed firearms holders who own prohibited firearms from the May 1, 2020 Order-in Council (OIC) can choose to 1) turn in the said firearm; 2) surrender it for compensation; or 3) keep it. If you choose to keep your May 1, 2020 prohibited firearms you become subject to a “non-permissive storage regime.”
The buy-back compensation program expires April 2022. After, and if you choose to keep your newly prohibited firearms: 1) you may not remove them from storage; 2) you may not use them or sell them; 3) you may not transfer or import them; and 4) you may not bequeath them [Bill C-21]. Will a gang member follow these rules?
The Minister Responsible for Public Safety, Bill Blair, stated that Bill C-21 “renders useless” the prohibited firearms. When the April 2022 compensation buy-back program expires will it “render worthless” your firearm?
Highlight: Bill C-21 – Help Municipalities Create Safer Communities
The federal government “will create the conditions” for municipalities to create bylaws and restrict handgun storage and transport by “prohibiting storage at home or prohibiting storage anywhere within municipal boundaries, and limiting transport to or from the municipality if allowed by the province/territory.” A municipality can ban handguns from their jurisdiction simply by saying you cannot store your handgun in your home, you cannot store your restricted firearm anywhere in the city, nor can you transport it anywhere within our boundaries.
Bill C-21 does a masterful job at downloading decision making to cities, provinces and territories. Will an enforcement nightmare of overlapping jurisdictional issues and a patchwork of unclear and differing bylaws exist? As municipal taxpayers, will the city you live in raise their taxes to fund the confiscation of your firearms? As “condition[s] on your federal firearms license” these bylaws subject you to a license revocation and 2 years imprisonment, a criminal offence, simply because a storage bylaw is breached. You could unconsciously break another municipality’s bylaws without knowing it. Do you think your firearms will be confiscated? Again, licensed firearms holders are the wrong targets; criminals and gang members are.
Please consider joining Canadian associations like: CCFR – Canadian Coalition for Firearms Rights; CSSA – Canadian Sports Shooting Association; or the NFA – National Firearms Association. Membership costs are minimal, they provide useful information and can bring more weight to bear on changing government policy and legislation.
President – SAFGC