On Monday, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino announced new amendments to Bill C-21 that would, if passed, add a definition of “prohibited firearm” to the Criminal Code.
This codified definition would provide clarity and certainty to the firearms community, Mendicino said.
“All of these steps align with the recommendations of the Mass Casualty Commission’s final report,” Mendicino stated.[i]
Yet neither the Commission’s recommendations nor Mendicino’s proposed amendments to Bill C-21 would prevent the Nova Scotia killer from obtaining the illegal guns he used to commit many of his atrocities.
- Gasoline remains legal. (as it should)
- Smuggling guns remains illegal. (as it should)
- Murder remains illegal. (as it should)
As gun owners, we knew we would not be happy with whatever nonsense Mendicino announced.
Others, who expected to be thrilled, were grossly disappointed.
PolySeSouvient and others demanded a total ban on all semi-automatic firearms.
They didn’t get it, so those groups who are normally supportive of Liberal grandstanding on the gun issue threw metaphorical Molotov cocktails at Justin Trudeau, Marco Mendicino and their proposed changes.
“I am extremely angry, extremely disappointed and feel betrayed,” said Nathalie Provost.[ii]
“This is a gift to the gun lobby and to Pierre Poilievre & his Conservative Party,” PolySeSouvient ranted on Twitter, “who will have an easy time reversing this less-than-half-measure. Tens of thousands [of] assault weapons remain legal and owners of models banned in 2020 will just take money to buy legal ones #WhatBan”[iii].
We hope PolySeSouvient is correct, that a Pierre Poilievre government will have an easy time undoing this mess. But that’s a discussion for another day.
“The net effect of this is the Liberals selling as courageous policy what is actually a near-total retreat,” wrote Matt Gurney.[iv]
This new definition would not be retroactive. Firearms legal today will not be subject to these restrictions, should this pass and become law.
It would only affect “firearms designed and manufactured after Bill C-21 comes into force; it would not affect the classification of existing firearms in the Canadian market.”[v]
As we noted in Monday’s CSSA Special Report, this creates a new level of confusion for gun owners, firearms businesses and law enforcement.
This is a real problem, and one that will likely cost a lot of good people their peace of mind (and small fortunes in legal fees) depending on how law enforcement deals with semi-automatic firearms and their owners – should this become law.
Police forces are already challenged to know what category a firearm falls under using the current classification system. Adding a cut-off date for legality only sows more confusion.
Too often in the past we’ve see police charge someone and “let the courts sort it out” and that is completely unacceptable.
Mendicino’s proposed amendments to Bill C-21 would:
- Amend subsection Criminal Code 84(1) to define “prohibited firearm” as “A firearm that is not a handgun and that discharges centre-fire ammunition; in a semi-automatic manner; and was originally designed with a detachable magazine with a capacity of six cartridges or more.”
- “Firearm part” would be modified to include barrels and slides for handguns.
- Illegally-manufactured firearms – presumably to focus on 3D-printed firearms and other “ghost guns” – would also be added to the definition of “prohibited firearms.”
- New magazine restrictions would require magazines for long guns be permanently modified to a 5-round maximum. Sales or transfers of standard capacity magazines would be prohibited.
The upside, as we see it, is that shooting sports like Trap and Skeet will continue to thrive in Canada. This is a great thing.
Firearms legal today (if Mendicino and the Liberals are to be believed) will remain legal, adding certainty to businesses and firearm users alike. This is also a good thing.
That the Liberals walked back their promises to anti-gun groups like PolySeSouvient is a wonderful thing. This decision makes it fairly clear that their internal polling is not telling them what PolySeSouvient wants them to hear.
All in all, these developments give us hope for the future of firearm ownership in Canada, our culture of safety and our commitment to wildlife conservation.
Will our hopes for the future of firearm ownership and use be realized under a future Pierre Poilievre government?
That will depend upon each and every one of us, both in the next federal election and after it.
It is our duty, our responsibility, to vote.
It’s also our duty and responsibility to hold those we elect accountable for keeping their promises to us, their employers.