Federal gun laws will affect law abiding owners, Island group says

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M’CHIGEENG – The federal government announced the introduction of new gun legislation this week, and while there may be good initiatives being looked at, it could have negative effects on those who own any of 1,500 makes and models of guns that are used by law-abiding gun owners, for hunting or sport shooting.

“No, it doesn’t make much sense,” Bill Elliott, secretary of the Manitoulin Small Handgun Association (MSHA), told the Recorder. “This includes shotguns and single shot firearms, for instance, and hunting and sport shooting (firearms) that are being prohibited as well. There are no reasons given for them being legislated. The closest they get to providing any clarification is that they are modern ones and they look like military weapons,” even though many are used by hunters.

National Newswatch reported on February 12 the long-promised bill would flesh out last spring’s ban of many firearms, propose stricter storage provisions and target gun smuggling. 

The government outlawed a variety of firearms by cabinet order last May, saying they were built for the battlefield, not hunting or sport-shooting.

The ban covers some 1,500 models and variants. The new legislation will toughen Canada’s gun laws, including allowing municipalities to ban handguns by restricting people’s ability to possess, store and transport them. New penalties would also include jail time for those that disregard municipal handgun bylaws. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau outlined Tuesday there will be a buyback program for a range of banned firearms, with owners having the option of turning in their guns for compensation or keeping them as long as the owners abide by strict conditions, including secure storage. There will also be tougher penalties for gun smuggling and trafficking, as well as increasing the capacity of police and border officers to combat illegal guns. 

The bill is expected to: include provisions allowing police, doctors, victims of domestic abuse and families to be able to raise a red or yellow flag and apply to the courts for the immediate removal of a person’s firearms, or to ask a chief firearms officer to suspend and review an individual’s licence to own firearms; target gun smuggling and trafficking by increasing criminal penalties, and boosting the capacity of the RCMP and Canada Border Services Agency to combat illegal importation of firearms; create new offences for altering the cartridge magazine component of a firearm and depicting violence in firearms advertising, and introduce tougher restrictions on the import of ammunition, and ensure the prohibition of imports, exports, sales and transfers of all replica firearms.

“The system needs to do a better job to prevent people who should not have weapons and then use them in gun violence,” said Mr. Elliott. “You always hear some people saying, ‘everyone knew the guy was bad and that there was the potential he would break but it never seems the system has a mechanism in place to help those unstable before they turn to violence.’ They are the ones that should not have access to firearms.”  

“Yes, the proposed new legislation is going to affect law-abiding hunters,” stated Mr. Elliott. “The problem with the whole legislation is that it is not based on either science or research. It is based on getting votes from a certain part of the population. What I would like to see is someone use some common sense.”