Bill C-21 Issues of Concern For Firearms Owners

There are a number of implications this Bill has that we as firearms owners should be concerned with. I’ve outlined as best I can the portions of the Bill that are specifically aimed at licensed gun owners and do not address concerns of public safety. The following paragraphs (bold) are from published explanation of Bill C-21 by the federal government:

  • Chief Firearms Officers (CFOs) would have the ability to suspend an individual's licence for up to 30 days if there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the individual is no longer eligible to hold a firearms licence, and to investigate whether that individual continues to be eligible to hold a firearms licence.  
This is very vague as to what the “reasonable grounds” are. For example it could leave the door open to a situation where an individual simple does not regularly attend an accredited range. We have many such members. 
  • The federal government would create conditions on an individual's federal firearms licence to restrict handgun storage and transport in those municipalities that pass bylaws to these effects. 
  • Any municipality has the option to pass bylaws related to handgun storage and transport in their jurisdiction, such as prohibiting storage at home or prohibiting storage anywhere within municipal boundaries, and limiting transport to or from the municipality, if allowed by their province/territory.
  • Breach of the federal firearms licence condition would carry a maximum penalty of two years' imprisonment, as well as possible revocation of a firearms licence or a registration certificate. 
It will be a condition of your license that your handguns will be subject to municipal bylaws. In other words, if a municipality does something like ban handguns or require central storage, you must comply or be in violation of your license conditions. It also creates a lot of inconsistency in firearms regulations, Here St. John's, Mount Pear, Paradise and CBS could all have different rules! This is specifically aimed at licensed handgun owners who will be at the whim of municipalities who will be able enact any restrictions they wish which will in turn become federal law in that jurisdiction. Obviously Criminals will not adhere to such restrictions as they are are obviously not licensed firearms owners. How does this promote enhanced public safety?
  • Update the Criminal Code to ensure that any device, including an unregulated air-gun that looks exactly like a conventional regulated firearm (i.e., shoots over 500 feet per second), is prohibited for the purposes of import, export, sale and transfer.
  • Current owners may keep their 'replicas' but cannot transfer them to anyone else.
  • No further 'replica' firearms could be imported into, or sold/transferred in Canada.
  • This amendment does not affect other types of airguns that do not exactly replicate a conventional regulated firearm.
Although this does not likely affect our members directly is seems very unfair to prohibit low velocity guns (non firearms) that simply resemble firearms. Examples air-soft guns.
  • Establish a non-permissive storage possession regime that would offer lawful owners of firearms (and variants) prohibited on May 1, 2020 the option to keep their firearm; however possession would be subject to strict conditions including no permitted use, no import, no further acquisition, no sale and no bequeath. 
  • Owners who choose to retain these firearms would be required to comply with additional requirements including successfully completing the related Canadian Restricted Firearm Safety Course and upgrading to a Restricted Possession and Acquisition Licence (with all associated course and licence fees), registering the firearm(s) with the Firearms Registrar, complying with enhanced storage requirements, and periodically providing information on storage of the firearm(s) to ensure compliance. 
Owners of firearms targeted by the May 1 OIC will essentially have two options:
1. Turn in your firearm for confiscation and compensation for a value still unknown.
2. Retain your firearm under a prohibited class, under very strict conditions and with the provision that they can never be used at the range, sold or transferred, passed to a heir through your estate, etc.
This actually flies in the face of the government’s stated reason these firearms were banned.  It these firearms were of such a danger to the public that they had to be taken out of the hands of licensed Canadians why are the individuals licensed to purchase, possess and use these firearms now being permitted to retain them under yet undisclosed requirements. 
  • Review firearms classification, including whether to prohibit assault-style firearms by definition in the Criminal Code instead of by make and model in regulations, to be initiated by the Minister of Justice.
  • Modernise language in the regulations and the Criminal Code with respect to prohibited weapons, prohibited devices and prohibited ammunition to close gaps in law. 
  • The classification review would begin once the proposed legislation is reviewed by Parliament.
These provisions pave the way for further prohibition orders (such SOR 2020/96) and I will take this opportunity to point out the many of the firearms banned by the May 2020 Order in Council neither function as, nor resemble in any way, a so called assault “style” firearm. 
This Bill is cause for great concern to our membership and to the rights of all Canadian gun owners. The Bill does address some aspects of Criminal gun violence but clearly it is also unduly focuses on licensed sport shooters. We need to be heard, contact your MP immediately by email or letter mail to voice your concerns. 
Gerry Carr
Action Shooting Committee


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