On Monday, November 6, CSSA Executive Director Tony Bernardo addressed Bill C-21 before the Standing Senate Committee on National Security, Defence and Veterans Affairs (SECD).[i]
“You have been listening to firearms experts and they have told you the problem and have given you the science to reduce gun crime. What I don’t understand is why is the government not listening to them?” Bernardo asked.
“Why is this government directing its efforts against the law abiding, as opposed to directing them against the criminal misuse of these objects?”
“It seems clear the government is engaged in a witch hunt against millions of lawful Canadian citizens, yet expert after expert have told you the same things, from Marcell Wilson to the former OPP Chief Chris Lewis, [Bill] C-21 will not stop or lessen gun crime and is totally focused on the law abiding.”
“Clearly, this 30-year-old approach doesn’t work.”
“What I am asking from the government, on behalf of the Canadian communities we represent, is to simply say it like it is,” Mr. Wilson said.
“This bill is to remove legal firearms from legal firearm owners, not to prevent violence or make our country significantly safer. Please stop exploiting people who have already been through enough for a political agenda.”
Former OPP Chief Chris Lewis was equally clear that Bill C-21 is focused on the wrong target in an interview with CTV News.[iv]
“The people who are using guns aren’t the lawful owners that have registered guns and have had the background checks, have been trained and safely store them. That’s not who’s committing the violent crimes. It’s people who are using smuggled guns from the United States. That’s the vast majority of guns used in crime: handguns.”
“Adding more laws to the lawful owners isn’t going to impact the criminals who don’t care about laws. They commit them all [crimes], including murder,” he said.
“Banning lawfully owned handguns is not going to solve the problem,” Lewis said.
As questioning continued, Senator Donna Dasko tried to suggest that because gun owners who don’t own handguns are okay with the government seizing and destroying them, citing stats from an Environics survey of Canadian gun owners commissioned by the Liberal government.[v]
“Canadian gun owners, as a whole, seem to support this,” said Senator Dasko. “So I’m suggesting that perhaps the members of the organizations that have come here to represent their members, but they don’t represent gun owners, as a whole, in Canada.”
“Certainly handgun owners are in a minority amongst the overall community of firearms owners,” Tony Bernardo replied, “but I would also remind you that democracy is two wolves and the sheep deciding what to have for lunch.”
“We have people who have committed no crime and they have jumped through every hoop the government has laid before them,” Bernardo said.
“And now we’re going to punish them because they’re in a minority where the object of government, at least democratic government, is to protect minorities from intrusion.”
Government must always be seen to be doing something.
Bill C-21 is the Trudeau Liberal government’s attempt to be seen to be doing something about criminal violence.
That their something be rationally connected to preventing that violence is, it appears, entirely beside the point.
The Standing Senate Committee on National Security, Defence and Veterans Affairs hearings on Bill C-21 continue.