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Team CSSA Bill S-223 Update – April 18, 2016: Departing senator’s bill looks to give restrictive gun registration

GUNTER: Departing senator’s bill looks to give restrictive gun registration



Is Senate Private Bill S-223 a parting shot by a retiring Liberal senator or a trial balloon being launched by the Trudeau government to see whether there is any taste for a new gun registry?

Hard to say. What is clear is that if S-223 ever became law, it would be even more restrictive than the 1995 long-gun registration bill, C-68. 

Introduced earlier this month by Quebec Liberal Senator Céline Hervieux-Payette, the bill may die when Hervieux-Payette retires from the Senate at the end of this week. The former Pierre Trudeau cabinet minister turns 75 – the mandatory Senate retirement age – on Friday.

The bill also faces some significant procedural hurdles. For one, to get past first reading the bill requires both the Liberals and the Conservatives to speak to it. While the Liberals have scheduled their statements for as early as Tuesday, the Conservatives have no plans yet to address the bill. And since the Tories still hold the majority in the upper chamber, S-223 could languish on the order paper a long, long time. 

So maybe this is just Hervieux-Payette’s last kick at the can; one more chance to make a clattering commotion on her way out the door.

Hervieux-Payette, who was secretary of state for fitness and amateur sport back in the early ’80s, has long been a fierce opponent of private gun ownership. She is also rabidly anti-American. 

A decade ago when an American tourist wrote Canadian senators to tell them she and her family would not be coming to Canada out of protest for the seal hunt, Hervieux-Payette told the woman “the daily massacre of innocent people in Iraq, the execution of prisoners – mainly blacks – in American prisons, the massive sale of handguns to Americans, and the destabilization of the entire world by the American government’s aggressive foreign policy,” was far worse than the seal hunt. 

But there is also some reason to think the bill is more than just the fading dream of a radically anti-gun senator.

For one thing, it’s more than 70 pages long and appears to be the work of several, professional lawyers and legislation drafters. Tony Bernardo, executive director of the Canadian Shooting Sports Association, says S-223 looks as if “it took a number of Department of Justice lawyers a few months of work to create.” 

If Justice lawyers did help in the bill’s creation, that would indication S-223 is a stalking horse – a false front the Trudeau government is hiding behind to gauge reaction and see whether they could get away with new gun controls. 

The key provisions include the reclassification of all firearms, except “hunting firearms” as “circumscribed firearms.” 

Firearms in this new category – close to half of all firearms in the country – could not be stored in private homes. They would have to be kept locked up in government-approved vaults at authorized gun clubs or even police stations. 

And they could only be removed from these facilities by licensed “transporters.” No word yet whether individual owners could get license to transport their own guns. 

And while guns would not have to be “registered,” they would have to be “inscribed.” 

Explaining the difference, Hervieux-Payette said, “We simply thought that using the term ‘inscription’ would eliminate some anxiety. I think that using the term inscription does not evoke feelings of fear” that a new registry is on the way. 

Let’s hope when the good senator packs up her office this week, she packs up this dangerous bill along with her paperweight and letter opener. 

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