Bill C-71 – An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms – was introduced in March of this year. In his speech arguing in favour of this bill, the Minister of Public Safety called it “important legislation that prioritizes public safety and effective police work, while treating law-abiding firearms owners and businesses fairly and reasonably.” He went on to add that this bill upheld the Liberal Party’s commitment “not to reinstate a federal long gun registry.”
I take issue with both of these claims.
Let’s begin with the claim that law-abiding firearms owners are treated fairly by this Liberal government. I think all Canadians believe in ensuring that we treat firearms responsibly. We understand that in the interest of public safety there are sensible measures that can be taken. My Conservatives colleagues and I recognize that the safety of Canadians must be the number one priority of any government and we will support common sense legislation related to firearms that will help keep Canadians safe. But here’s the problem: Bill C-71 doesn’t do that.
C-71 has no measures to combat the increasing rates of gun related homicide, domestic violence, gang violence, or to address the increasing rates of rural crime either in Provencher or across the country. All this bill does is add greater costs and regulatory burdens to law-abiding firearms owners.
Our previous Conservative government understood that we could be tough on crime while respecting those who own firearms legally and operate them safely. The criminal element behind firearms violence was always where we focused our attention. Yet with Bill C-71, the Liberals have entirely neglected to address the criminals who use guns to commit violent crimes while treating law-abiding firearms owners like criminals.
Why would they do this?
As is the case on most occasions with the Liberals, they are more interested in being seen to be taking action rather than actually taking action. It is difficult to address gun and gang violence. It is quite easy, however, to increase red tape and place new restrictions on those who are already following the rules. For the Liberals, they get the benefit of being seen to be taking action even though the impact of their proposals will do nothing for the serious gun and gang violence Canadians want to see gone from our streets.
Secondly, the Liberals claim that Bill C-71 somehow does not re-introduce a gun registry. Somebody needs to explain to the Prime Minister, that when the federal government is using a federal registrar to keep records on law-abiding firearm owners – that’s a gun registry. Registrars keep registries. In fact, the bill uses the words “registrar” or “reference number” 28 times. The words “gang” or “criminal organization” are mentioned zero times.
In Canada, 93% of gun crimes that result in death are committed with illegal guns, by people who should not have them. Unfortunately, the Liberals are ignoring gangs and targeting hunters, farmers and northern Canadians instead.
I serve a rural riding. A lot of good, law-abiding people own firearms. And I can tell you that nobody knows better than hunters and farmers the importance of gun safety and the social responsibility that comes with owning a firearm. That is why it is deeply insulting to have the Liberals consistently impugn not only their ability to be responsible citizens but the kind of moral equivalency we see the Liberals trying to draw between violent gang members—criminals—and law-abiding firearms owners.
This bill makes the same mistake the Liberals always make on this issue; targeting law abiding firearms owners instead of criminals.
Conservatives know there are still very real issues out there with respect to gun and gang violence, but the Liberals have shown they are not serious about addressing those difficult challenges. When they want to tackle serious crime, Conservatives will be the first to stand with them. However, we will not join their crusade to make life more difficult for law-abiding Canadians.