OPINION: Liberals take aim at responsible gun owners

E-petition against Bill C-71 is largest in history of Parliament

The Liberal’s gun-control legislation, Bill C-71, is an attack on responsible Canadian firearms owners.

It’s already passed the House of Commons and received second reading in the Senate, but it’s not too late to tell the Trudeau government what you think.

Bill C-71 revokes former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s relaxing of rules over authorization to transport restricted firearms. The proposed changes to transporting restricted firearms reverses Harper’s “tweak” that attached an authorization to transport (ATT) document to a person’s license. This eliminated a lot of paperwork, meaning gun owners didn’t have to get police approval every time they wanted to transport their firearm for activities like taking their weapon to the range for target shooting, taking it to a gunsmith or a gun show.

Bill C-71 also wants to overhaul the background check system meaning instead of just looking at the last five years of someone’s life it would consider the person’s entire life. The proposed background checks are too extensive and invasive and would result in legitimate prospective gun owners not getting a license. Bill C-71 would also allow the chief firearms officer in each province to review a person’s online activity and refuse them a license based on that.

Bill C-71 also incorporates new record-keeping requirements for retailers, which is nothing more than the Liberals reviving the long-gun registry that the Conservative government dismantled. In addition, those records – landing in the wrong hands – could make lawful firearms owners a target for theft by criminals.

The Liberals are giving the RCMP the power to re-classify firearms without political approval, which means the government is abdicating its legislative responsibilities. Bill C-71 reclassifies two types of firearms to prohibited meaning owners would have to have their rifles grandfathered or have them taken.

Clearly, the Liberals newly appointed Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction isn’t addressing the border and gun problems and instead is going after law-abiding gun owners.

Canada already has some of the strictest guidelines for residents to buy firearms. Before getting a firearm’s license, a Possession and Acquisition License (PAL), the person has to pass a safety course for long guns. If they want to own restricted firearms they have to take an additional course and restricted firearms must be registered and can only be used for shooting sports at ranges. After passing these courses the RCMP conducts a thorough background check on the individual, including any criminal or mental health history in the last five years.

Only sportsmen – and target shooting is a popular Olympic sport – shooting targets at ranges, and collectors, are allowed to own handguns in Canada. In addition, all legally owned handguns in Canada – which are registered – can only be sold to someone with a valid license and it’s required by law that the seller look at the buyer’s valid license. Legal handgun owners aren’t selling handguns to criminals and gang members. They aren’t the problem. It’s the criminals because they don’t obey the laws of our land.

So instead of taking aim at law-abiding gun owners, the Trudeau government should fight gang and organized crime and work towards stopping firearms from being smuggled into Canada from the United States.

Almost 100,000 Canadians have signed a petition saying Bill C-71 shouldn’t go through. This is one of the largest e-petitions in the history of Parliament. You can have your say with the federal government from Oct. 11 to Nov. 10 at www.canada.ca.

Lisa Joy is editor of the Stettler Independent newspaper and writes a regular column for the paper.

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