Under the Liberal party of Justin Trudeau and Bill Blair, public safety has become a purely political issue. They rarely miss an opportunity to divide Canadians along cultural, political or ideological lines.
Reasonable Canadians should ask themselves if they think that anything in this bill will stop the shootings in downtown Toronto or Vancouver or the violence or property crime we see in rural communities.
In our opinion, this bill is simply electioneering. The real problem is that licensed gun owners are the fodder used to mobilize the liberal party’s base.
The red flag provisions in this bill can potentially be problematic. Red flag laws have existed in Canada since the 90s. Now, in this new bill, anyone at all can petition a judge to issue a firearm prohibition order without the gun owner having any say in the matter or even tell their side of the story. These prohibition orders include searches with and without a warrant. This change affects 2.2 million licensed gun owners in Canada.
The bill creates a new offense of altering a cartridge magazine. The law that makes possession of an over capacity magazine still exists. Apparently, it is now doubly illegal to have an over capacity magazine. It’s unclear how this is going to stop the shootings in downtown Vancouver or Toronto, suicide by firearm, or domestic violence.
Any provision that combats the illegal use or trafficking of firearms is welcome but in the case of increased trafficking penalties, the real problem is that the courts aren't addressing the already stiff penalties. This provision will likely yield no additional public safety benefit.
The Liberals are creating a criminal offense of not complying with a municipal bylaw. The idea that firearm-related violence will decrease because sport shooters cannot store their firearms at home is absurd and an attempt by municipal leaders to escape accountability for their failure on stopping violence in their jurisdictions. The most egregious part is that they are punishing specifically the people that are not involved in that violence.
Let's review the particulars:
Red Flag Law
The Criminal Code will be amended to allow anyone to apply to a judge, without notice to the firearm-owner, for an order to immediately remove firearms from an individual who may pose a danger to themselves or others, or from a third party who could provide firearms to such an individual, based on information provided from a complainant. This can be done without a warrant, where the information provided by the complainant suggests there isn’t time to get a warrant.
This creates obvious constitutional issues regarding warrantless searches, in addition to the obvious risks of abuse by, for example, vindictive former romantic partners.
Yellow Flag Law
A new provision in the Firearms Act will allow a Chief Firearms Officer (CFO) to temporarily suspend an individual’s firearms license if the CFO receives information calling into question their license eligibility. This runs up against the prohibition against being found guilty until proven innocent.
S. 74 “Turn In Your Guns”
A new provision requires the surrender of firearms during a legal challenge of license revocation under section 74, and allows for their destruction if required. Affected owners will no longer retain their firearms while appealing a revocation.
This creates a prohibition on importation, exportation and sale applies to all non-regulated airguns that look like modern firearms.
Deletion and Replacement of Grandfathering (s. 12.01)
The grandfathering provisions of s. 12(8) and s. 12(9) (the “Mystery Class”) are being deleted in favour of another grandfathering provision (s. 12.01), one that only allows for storage of the OIC guns without use.
This effectively destroys the value of hundreds of thousands of firearms that are caught by the recent May 1, 2020 OIC, and future bans as well, turning them into worthless "safe queens".
Note that no buyback has been implemented so as to compensate the owners of these firearms for their destroyed value.
It is not clear what dated they are going to use (the "prescribed date") for the possession of the gun or the possession or application of certs. They have messed that up before.
There will be no further acquisitions under this license. A corollary of this is that there will be no market for you to sell your affected guns. They will now be worthless.
Municipal Firearm Bans
The proposed creation of s. 58.01 allows for municipalities to create bylaws that in turn creates the criminal offence of the prohibition of the possession of a handgun other than at a licensed firearm storage facility (a range).
Transporting a handgun through such a municipality will also be criminal, other than for limited purposes such as leaving the country or going to the CFO's office. This moves dangerously close to allowing municipalities to create criminal law, and will unquestionably be subject to a constitutional review. Keep in mind that the "municipal handgun ban" is actually a storage bylaw that's attached to a legal owners license, which means unlicensed criminals are quite literally exempt.
Ammunition (s. 37)
Individuals without a license cannot obtain ammunition from abroad.
De Facto Long Gun Registry
Because of the requirement to register all of the newly prohibited guns, and all such guns that may be prohibited in the future, this creates a long gun registry for the new prohibs.
This also creates new requirements for continuous reporting as to where the guns are and how they are stored.
This provides a new penalty of up to 5 years for unpinning a magazine. Of course possessing a prohibited magazine is already illegal.
Mail Order Transfers of Firearms (s. 32)
there will be new prescribed conditions to be complied with, in addition to The previous requirements.
Centralizing Authorization to Carry Power (s. 54)
Where you want an authorization to carry to protect life, your local CFO will no longer be able to provide it. That must be requested from the central "Commissioner". Only the Commissioner will be able to provide ATCs.
This is clearly an anti-provincial-CFO maneuver.
The CCFR looks forward to engaging with parties from both sides of the House of Commons on this bill in committee. Expect full opposition to it.