GROUNDHOG DAY

March 22, 2018

Hon. Kevin Sorenson, M.P., (Battle River-Crowfoot)
Parliamentary Report

If March 20th, 2018 felt like Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day, you wouldn’t be wrong as we certainly are reliving February 14, 1995 – a day I personally will never forget – a day that prompted me to run for Parliament. The grip the Liberal government is trying to put on law abiding firearms this time is not as tight but nevertheless it is still somewhat of a stronghold.

Last Tuesday, Liberal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodall introduced Bill C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms, and while many were ready to jump to compare it to the infamous Bill C-68, I reserved judgement. That reservation lasted all of about twenty seconds as it did not take long to see this legislation for what it really is – a backdoor attempt to bring back elements of the wasteful and ineffective long-gun registry.

The mid-1990’s Bill C-68 created the billion dollar long gun register and made criminals out of law abiding firearm owners who neglected to register their firearms. Many Canadians, particularly anglers, hunters and farmers, who had been in possession of their firearms for a long time, were made to retroactively, and at a cost, ensure the make, model, serial number, calibre and barrel length of their firearms were properly recorded and placed on the Firearm Registry. Failure to do so came at the expense of a criminal sanction and record.

Soon after forming government in 2006, Stephen Harper and our Conservative Caucus immediately moved to eliminate the long gun registry and to restore the respect law abiding firearm owners had been denied since former Liberal Justice Minister Allan Rock tabled Bill C-68 on Valentine Day in 1995.

Unfortunately, once again that respect is being stripped away and firearm owners will be made to feel like criminals under the “reference number” provision outlined in Bill C-71. Section 5 of the Firearms Act is being amended to include the requirement for anyone transferring a long gun to obtain a reference number from the Firearm Registrar. Before any firearm can be sold or given, the buyer has to show their license, and the seller – whether a retailer or private citizen, has to confirm it is valid with the Registrar. Currently, vendors are trusted to do a requisite license check without any confirmation. The Registrar will issue the reference number only if they are satisfied the person buying or receiving the firearm holds or is eligible to hold a license.

This provision raises serious concerns not only about the veiled attempt to keep records on firearm owners but also about the boondoggle it will create for vendors at gun shows. One can only imagine the bureaucratic nightmare sellers will encounter, especially at the large weekend gun shows we see throughout Battle River- Crowfoot, as they try to get through to the Registrar before they can legally sell a firearm. How many bureaucrats and at what cost will it take to give them reference numbers? And, what type of information will the Registrar collect in relation to those reference numbers?

Conservatives will never support this legislation and we will continue to fight for concrete actions to keep Canadians safe. We believe that the safety of Canadians should be the number one priority of any government – it certainly was our priority while in government from 2006 to 2015 as evidenced by the numerous justice bills we introduced and passed. Unfortunately, this legislation has no new measures to combat gang or gun violence in urban areas and escalating crime in our rural communities. Bill C-71 does nothing to protect Canadians. Given all the letters, phone calls and emails I have received in the last two days, I know how troublesome this is for many of you!

If you have any questions or concerns regarding this or previous columns you may write me at 4945-50th Street, Camrose, Alberta, T4V 1P9, call 780-608-4600, toll-free 1-800-665-4358, fax 780-608-4603 or e-mail Kevin.Sorenson.c1@parl.gc.ca