Gun laws could soon change for all Canadian hunters and target shooters.
The Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act has been accepted into Parliament and if passed, will amend multiple portions of the current gun registry.
The proposed bill C-42 will first off create a six-month grace period at the end of a five-year license to stop people from immediately becoming criminalized.
Gary Mauser, chair of the BC Wild Firearms Committee, is confident the legislation will be popular among BCWF members.
“It’s simple, less paperwork,” said Mr. Mauser. “Most hunters follow the [rules] with little difficulty, but sometimes people are absent minded and they forget to renew their license. If they do they are instant criminals, their firearms are confiscated and may even serve jail time. This bill gives people a second chance.”
The considered legislation will also merge the Possession Only License (POL) and the Possession and Acquisition License (PAL), so people who didn’t have to take a test (Firearms Safety or Firearms Handling) will no longer be limited. It will also require mandatory firearms safety courses for all first-time gun owners, which means the abandonment of the challenge provision.
“It’s stupid, expensive and useless to mirror imposition on honest people. Most young people historically learn from their parents, aunts or uncles. This bill eliminates the possibility of challenging, which several of us in the Firearms Advisory Committee (FAC) pointed out could hurt young applicants in small communities around Canada,” Mr. Maser said.
A lack of firearm safety instructors has already proven to be a challenge, especially for isolated northern communities. Steven Blaney, conservative and minister of public safety, (the group spearheading the bill) has made comments to an unidentified source that he intends to eliminate these challenges.
Another part of the bill will make transportation of guns part of the licence.
Nathan Cullen, New Democrat MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley, says some aspects are a good idea, such as the mandatory courses, but is concerned about making it easier to transport the weapon.
“Legislation should not be in the hands of politicians but in the hands of the skilled. In all complicated pieces of legislation there will be some pieces we like and some we don’t but in the interest of public safety we should be listening to people in public safety, not publicize what guns mean what. Gunmen want what everyone else wants, laws enforced that keep the public safe and gives people lawful access to firearms. But with conservatives its all or nothing.”
Joyce Murray, liberal MP and Critic for National Defence, feels the bill should be split into two parts so the acceptable measures will be expedited through parliament faster.
“The provocative timing of this gun bill with aspects that put safety at risk, just at the time of the Dec. 6 anniversary of 14 young women gunned down at Ecole Polytechnique in Montréal, raises questions about the real motivation of this bill – is it another cynical attempt by the Conservatives to create divisions, as they did with their gun registry advert and fundraising campaigns for so many years?,” Ms. Murray said in an email interview.
Blair Haggin, executive vice president for Canada’s National Firearms Association (CNFA) says it’s time for an entirely new firearms act.
“The opposition party’s should look at reality instead of using fear mongering that less paperwork is going to create wrongdoing. Bill C-42 addresses many problems but doesn’t do it effectively. Getting rid of the challenge provision is a real step back and doesn’t solve many problems. Even if bill C-42 is passed the reclassification system will still be in the hands of politicians which is made not to law but to the agendas of civil bureaucrats. The government is trying to show good faith to gun owners and I suppose to some any reform is a good thing.”
If carried, the proposed bill will also strengthen firearms prohibitions for those who are convicted of domestic violence offences.
“The odds are good it will pass,” said Mr. Mauser of the BCWF. “I’ve spoken to Minister Steven Blaney and he is committed to the bill. Both the liberals and NDP oppose it, but their in a minority. The government has not excepted any recommendations from opposition so I think it will pass.”