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Third Reading of Bill C-42 - Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act

Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

2nd Session, 41st Parliament,
Volume 149, Issue 153

Hon. Lynn Beyak moved third reading of Bill C-42, An Act to amend the Firearms Act and the Criminal Code and to make a related amendment and a consequential amendment to other Acts.

She said: Honourable senators, I am pleased to rise today to support Bill C-42, the common sense firearms licensing act.

Hunting, sport shooting, angling and trapping are a multi-billion-dollar industry in Canada today that is responsible directly or indirectly for tens of thousands of well-paying jobs. As a tourist resort operator and owner myself for many years, and a hunter and sport shooter, I can personally attest to the economic benefits this industry brings. It is an important part of our shared Canadian heritage as well, and something we are all proud to promote.

This is the spirit with which the Minister of Public Safety introduced the legislation before us today. The common sense firearms licensing act takes an important step in the right direction, I believe, further protecting public safety while removing ineffective and unnecessary paperwork for law-abiding firearms owners like myself. It removes useless red tape, but it also takes several important steps to improve public safety. Many have divided this bill into two sections, the "safe" and the "sensible."

I would like to start with how this bill improves the safety of Canadians. First, it will impose strengthened firearms prohibition orders on those who have been convicted of domestic violence offences. Second, it will allow for more information sharing between CBSA and the RCMP on the importation of restricted firearms. And third, it will make firearms safety training mandatory for first-time firearms owners. I believe it is a very important step.

The bill also takes several measures to make our firearms laws more sensible. It merges the Possession Only Licence and the Possession and Acquisition Licence, which gives the right to buy and update their firearms to nearly 600,000 experienced gun owners.

It creates a grace period at the end of the five-year licence so that individuals do not become criminalized overnight for paperwork errors. It allows the authority of the chief firearms officers to be addressed for uniformity across Canada, subject to limits imposed by regulation. It ends needless paperwork around the authorization to transport restricted firearms, and it will allow the government to reverse the incorrect reclassification decision made by the RCMP regarding the CZ858 and the Swiss Arms family of rifles.

This bill is widely supported by Canadians from many walks of life. Tony Rodgers of the Nova Scotia Federation of Anglers and Hunters had this to say:

We strongly support the passage into law of Bill C-42, the common sense firearms licensing act, and look forward to its implementation. . . .

. . . The amended Criminal Code to strengthen the provision relating to orders prohibiting possession of firearms where a person is convicted of an offence involving domestic violence is a step in the right direction. . . .

It is important to both Canada Border Services and the RCMP to share information on newly imported restricted and non-restricted firearms into Canada. So the change to authorize firearms importation information sharing when restricted and prohibited firearms are imported into Canada by Canadian businesses is good.

. . . these changes will go a long way in fostering a positive relationship among the firearms community, government, and police."

Professor Gary Mauser of Simon Fraser University said:

I do not think that any of the changes in Bill C-42 would increase the danger to women or children through guns. At the present time, only 2% of accused murderers have any kind of a firearms licence. That's a PAL, POL or the old FAC. So this is very small group of people and nothing would change.

As a law abiding firearms owner, hunter and shooter, I believe that this legislation will benefit all Canadians while maintaining public safety and ensuring common sense requirements for all law-abiding firearms owners, and I look forward to your support.