Firearms Owners Association
Gun Owners want all aspects of the 1995 Firearms Act Repealed
18 February 2012
The Hill Times OnLine
NDP MP Charlie Angus is absolutely correct in his statement that gun owners want all aspects of the 1995 Firearms Act repealed. Where he goes astray, intentionally or not, is in his statement regarding stiff ownership screening. That screening requirement predated the Act.
Mr. Angus does everyday Canadians a great disservice in classifying those gun owners as "fanatics". MP's, like himself, rightfully rejected the Conservative's warrantless searches assault on civil liberties contained in their Bill C-30 Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act. Yet he is unopposed to this same treatment that the Firearms Act will continue to extend to gun owners after the passage of C-19. The Firearms Act's disregard for Charter and civil rights in a number of areas has failed to raise the concerns of the vast majority of MPs in the house regardless of which way they voted on C-19. Conservative MP Cheryl Gallant, while doing a commendable job in outlining those infringements in her speech leading up to the House vote, never the less attempted in the same speech to convey the false impression that the passage of Bill C19 would correct these injustices.
Given the continued existence of these injustices after the passage of C-19 it would be totally unreasonable to not expect continued resistance on the parts of those that are so adversely affected by the Firearms Act. In fact, it should be the continued hope of all Canadians that resistance to such offensive Acts does not pass out of vogue.
The Firearms Act created a new criminal class, owners bent on retention of property that was legally possessed in many cases for decades, who through accident or design failed to ask the government for permission to continue to retain that property. That the government would so thoroughly mistrust formerly trustworthy citizens to the point of criminalizing them stands as testimony to the malicious nature and content of the remaining portions of the Firearms Act.
PARLIAMENT HILL-Diehard gun owners who despise the federal long-gun registry won't stop until all elements of the 1995 law are dismantled, including the national licensing system and stiff ownership screening, opposition MPs say. "The gun lobby is not going to stop," NDP MP Charlie Angus (Timmins-James Bay, Ont.) told The Hill Times as Prime Minister Stephen Harper's (Calgary Southwest, Alta.) majority government was poised to vote on House of Commons passage Wednesday on Bill C-19, Eliminating the Long-Gun Registry Bill, legislation that would dismantle the registry and destroy all its records. "I've dealt with them, these guys are fanatics on guns, so I think the message to the backbenchers is 'yeah, we are going to go for stripping the licensing, as far as possible,' that's coming," Mr. Angus said.
Liberal MP Francis Scarpaleggia (Lac Saint Louis, Que.) agreed the battle is not over, despite the final stage in what has been inevitable since Mr. Harper won his majority in the federal election last May after making elimination of the registry one of the Conservative Party of Canada's central campaign planks. Mr. Scarpaleggia, a member of the Commons Public Safety and National Security that held a string of hearings into the effects of Bill C-19 last fall, said witnesses opposing the registry made it clear they will not be satisfied until all elements of the program's founding legislation, the 1995 Bill C-68 introduced by then Liberal Justice Minister Allan Rock, are gone. "A lot of them who came to the committee argued that neither licensing nor the registry was effective," Mr. Scarpaleggia said, "so I would imagine there would be a push in some quarters to get rid of licensing."
Meanwhile, the timetable Conservative Senators expect for Bill C-19 suggests that after the legislation's relatively slow progress through the Commons, compared to other bills on which the government has either imposed closure or time allocation to cut short debate, the government is not in a hurry to get the bill through the Senate. Because of the timing of the vote, the legislation will only reach the Senate on Thursday this week and, because next week is a Parliamentary recess, the government will not have an opportunity to move second reading and begin debate until Tuesday, Feb. 28. A Conservative Senator said the debate in the Senate chamber might stretch, intermittently, into mid-March, meaning the bill might still be under consideration by the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs committee as the NDP elects a new leader on March 24.
The issue is sensitive for the NDP and potentially divisive, as at least three of the leadership candidates have indicated an NDP government would reinstate the registry. Two NDP MPs, Bruce Hyer (Thunder Bay-Superior North, Ont.) and John Rafferty (Thunder Bay-Rainy River, Ont.) have already voted in favour of Bill C-19 and said they intended to support it on the final vote, despite punishment NDP Interim Leader Nycole Turmel (Hull Aylmer, Que.) imposed on them for their earlier votes.
Opposition MPs say the Conservatives have also dragged their feet on Bill C-19 because the gun registry has been a monumental fundraising tool for the Conservatives over the past seven years, likely responsible for a $1-milllion surge in donations to the party in late 2010 as debate raged over a previous Conservative bill to scrap it. "I think they are going through a huge grieving process now," Mr. Angus said. "They've lived off the gun registry, they've set off the gun registry, and now they're in the final dying moments, so they're stretching it out as far as they can."
Mr. Angus denied the registry is still divisive for New Democrats. "I'm not finding anything divisive for us, I think they've shot their load on this ages ago," he said. "I see these backbenchers, guys who I don't even know their names, they're all chuckling about how I'm going to be defeated in the election, I mean I'm sorry I just went through an election and we killed the Conservatives by a huge margin and they won on guns." Mr. Angus won his riding in the last election with 50.4 per cent of the vote. The Conservative candidate, Bill Greenberg, received 31.7 per cent of the vote.
Past statements by Mr. Harper and Conservative MP Garry Breitkreuz (Yorkton-Melville, Sask.) suggest expectations there will be pressure from gun owners to dismantle the remainder of the system, including licensing, are justified. One MP recently told The Hill Times: "Believe me, it will happen."
On Dec. 15, 2006, Mr. Breitkreuz wrote in a letter to supporters: "We have been united in our 12-year fight to repeal Bill C-68. I will never give up and I hope you will stay with us until it is dead and gone."
The letter was posted on the Canadian Unlicensed Firearms Owners Association website, along with a past promise from Mr. Harper to eliminate the provisions of Bill C-68.
The Hill Times