Bill C-21 demonizes gun owners. The Trudeau government misses the target with Bill C-21, which dramatically expands police powers in Canada. Prime Minister Trudeau claims the legislation will combat gun violence and keep communities safe, but none of the bill’s provisions directly address gun violence or violent crime.
Instead, Bill C-21 demonizes legal gun owners, who are not the problem, invents a variety of new administrative crimes and creates a “red flag” law that allows police to search and seize property (with a court order) on the grounds that a potentially dangerous individual has a firearm. Of course, the “red flag” provision is not new. Such a provision already exists and has for 20 years. Concerned individuals can dial 911 or medical doctors can call the Chief Firearms Officer.
Ottawa misleads Canadians by claiming that forcing law-abiding men and women to surrender their firearms—firearms that they have used responsibly—will somehow solve the problems of criminal gang activity or domestic violence.
On May 1 last year, the government banned, via the Order in Council, hundreds of thousands of legally owned firearms that had never been misused. Nine months later, Bill C-21 finally provides the legal framework justifying this precipitous action, although it remains vague on the details of how this will be accomplished. Perhaps surprisingly, owners of these supposedly dangerous weapons are allowed to keep them until the government gets around to dealing with them, and indigenous Canadians can continue to use them for hunting.
Ignoring criminal violence, Bill C-21 contains two other questionable provisions. It would allow municipalities to ban legal handguns within their boundaries, and streamline the confiscation of firearms from a lawful owner who is accused of posing a threat to themselves or to someone else. This is unjust because no violence need be involved—suspicions alone are sufficient to prompt a raid by police. Confiscating private property based solely on accusations is a slippery slope. Contrary to what the government claims, these provisions unjustly harm the law-abiding men and women who own and use firearms responsibly.
Allowing municipalities to ban lawful handgun ownership ignores criminals. Since legal firearms are rarely used in criminal violence, this will be ineffective in curbing either gangland shootings or domestic violence. Mayors and city authorities should realize that sport shooters aren’t the problem. Available data from Statistics Canada confirm that hunters and sport shooters are law-abiding and that legally purchased firearms are rarely involved in criminal violence, either through theft or “straw purchases.”