This is what we’ve waited so long for?
by Dennis E. Florian
Gun Owners’ Resource
As you’ve probably all heard by now, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney announced on Wednesday that the CPC would be introducing what they call the “Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act” this fall when Parliament resumes. You may also have noticed that there hasn’t been any story on it here yet.
The reason for the absence of commentary here is simple: I haven’t read the thing yet and until I do, I mean to keep my lip buttoned (or at least try to). But considering it has the word “licensing” in it, I’m probably not going to be overly impressed. But I’ll wait and see. Maybe I can get a nice surprise for a change.
Just because I’m clamming up, though, doesn’t mean that everybody else is. Both the CSSA and the NFA have fired off their own responses. Here they are:
Harper government introduces firearms bill to cut red tape
July 23 2014
Powassan ON – The Canadian Shooting Sports Association (CSSA) is pleased to support the Harper government’s introduction of new laws that are both fair to firearms owners and safe for all Canadians.
The CSSA is committed to promoting heritage shooting activities and maintaining public safety across Canada. Our association has consulted with Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney who has introduced new legislation to cut red tape for responsible firearms owners.
While seeking a more permanent solution, the minister has passed an amnesty to permit trustworthy Canadians to own, transport and use Swiss Arms and CZ-858 rifles that were lawfully purchased. Minister Blaney also announced the Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act to alter unfair and useless laws introduced by previous anti-gun governments. CSSA and the Canadian Institute for Legislative Action (CILA) executive director Tony Bernardo says the minister’s initiatives are an excellent interim step toward fair and safe gun laws in Canada.
“The CSSA is pleased that Minister Blaney has taken a direction to introduce fair play for all Canadians,” explains Bernardo. “The shooting sports community has grown impatient waiting for positive legislation that stops treating responsible firearms owners like potential criminals. These changes reaffirm that legal firearms owners are worthy of the public’s trust. Canadians should be proud to restore these rights instead of treating firearms owners as villains.
“The Minister understands that firearms ownership is a right and a responsibility,” adds Bernardo. “Meanwhile, lawful gun owners have been paying the price for the actions of a few bad people who used guns for evil. Draconian laws only affect the law abiding, and merely pretends to increase public safety. We are a breed far apart from those criminals who commit gun crimes and this new Act recognizes that difference.”
The new Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act is poised to:
- Merge the Possession Only License (POL) and the Possession and Acquisition license (PAL)
- End the Authorization to Transport system for target shooting
- Restrict the ability of Chief Firearms Officers (CFO’s) to make arbitrary decisions
- Create a grace period at the end of a five-year license expiry to prevent criminal charges for expired paperwork
- Create mandatory firearms safety courses for first time gun owners
- Strengthen firearms prohibitions for those who are convicted of domestic violence offences
Bernardo says proponents of gun controls will try to suggest that any changes will somehow threaten Canadians, but as usual, they will not be able to explain why. “The anti-gun groups said the sky would fall if the government scrapped the useless long-gun registry,” explains Bernardo. “As we all know, gun crime has continued its decades-long decline since the registry was abandoned more than two years ago. As well, reducing the arbitrary power of CFOs is a huge win for gun owners because we won’t have to endure whimsical rules conjured up by these unelected, anti-gun civil servants.
“Gun owners comprise the most safety-conscious community in the country,” he adds. “That’s why insurance at shooting ranges costs next to nothing. Every study shows that gun control laws do not reduce crime because criminals ignore them. With the federal election looming next year, parliamentary debates will show that other political parties want to take our firearms freedom away. Once these new laws receive Royal Assent, the choice for gun owners should be easier. If passed, this proposed legislation will represent a significant step forward for Canadian firearms owners.”
Firearms Law Reform Proposals Welcome, But Offer No Lasting Solutions
July 24 2014
“The Conservative Government’s firearms law reform proposals recognize many of the problems with Canada’s broken firearms control system, but ultimately do not solve them” said National Firearms Association Executive Vice President Blair Hagen.
“Reforms are welcome and a step in the right direction, said Hagen, but the government must understand the current Firearms Act is basically misdirected and punishes law abiding gun owners, and these changes are merely housekeeping.
The proposed extension of the amnesty for reclassified Swiss Arms/ CZ 858 rifles allows owners to lawfully transport and use their property but fails to reverse the effects of prohibition. Prohibition destroys the value of property and essentially enacts a slow-moving confiscation. Under these proposals, owners of these firearms still cannot legally sell or transfer this property to family members or other law abiding individuals.
“What is the ultimate fate of this property?” asked NFA Executive Vice President Blair Hagen
Most Swiss Arms and CZ 858 rifles were non-restricted and did not require registration at the time of the reclassification, this complicates the terms of the amnesty. The RCMP should not know who owns these rifles, nor can many owners prove when they acquired their rifles to claim protection under the amnesty. By allowing their lawful transport and use, it seems that the government is indicating that Swiss Arms/CZ 858 rifles are less of a risk to public safety than other rifles owned by Canadians and prohibited under the Firearms Act.
“This confuses the entire issue and makes the government’s intent unclear” continued Hagen.
The combining of Authorizations to Transport (ATT) with restricted firearms licenses makes practical sense in reducing red tape however the ATT regulation itself has no benefits for public safety. “Separate authorizations are still required for other legitimate activities and purposes. Firearms bureaucrats will find new ways to target firearms license holders” says Hagen.
The announcement that the government intends to address Section 58(1) of the Firearms Act is more significant. “Many of the problems associated with the 1995 Firearms Act stem from this section and the unlimited and arbitrary powers it grants to provincial Chief Firearms Officers and firearms bureaucrats. Canada’s National Firearms Association is extremely interested in the details of this proposal” said NFA Executive Vice President Hagen.
Licensing reforms in the form of ending the Possession Only License in favour of the Possession/Acquisition License and grace periods for license renewals are long overdue housekeeping and will ultimately only have a benign effect on streamlining and reducing the bureaucratic firearms regime. “This is still a mandatory license for simple ownership or possession of a firearm. Proposed Conservative licensing reforms merely soften the blow”.
Canada’s National Firearms Association appreciates Minister of Public Safety Steven Blaney’s announcement and the government’s apparent attention and good will in acting on these matters, but reminds them that the only solution to fixing Canada’s failed firearms control system is new legislation from this Conservative Government to replace the 1995 C-68 Firearms Act completely.