Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison said he was ‘disappointed’ that a recent order by the federal Liberal government banning guns didn’t get a proper debate in the House of Commons.
The ban, which applies to approximately 1,500 firearms, assorted variant models and components, was made through an order in council, rather than legislation passed by the House of Commons. In addition to the ban, the federal government announced plans for a buy-back program with a two-year window for those firearms that now fall under the new prohibited regulations.
“Taking guns away from lawful firearms owners isn’t the problem, the problem has always been organized crime, gangs who are using illegal — stolen, or brought in illegally across the border — using those kind of weapons that could be prohibited anyways,” Morrison said.
The ban, which was announced last week, shifts some firearms and variant models from current classifications as non-restricted or restricted into a prohibited category. Addressing gun violence and implementing firearms restrictions on ‘military-grade’ assault rifles was a Liberal Party campaign promise in last year’s federal election.
“Because of gun violence, people are dying, families are grieving, and communities are suffering,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in a news release. “It must end. Assault-style firearms designed for military use have no place in Canada. By removing them from our streets, we will limit the devastating effects of gun-related violence and help make our country safer.”
The new regulations were announced in the wake of Canada’s worst mass shooting that claimed the lives of 22 victims in Nova Scotia in April. While authorities haven’t identified the specific calibre or firearm model used in the shooting, the RCMP has said the gunman was not licensed to posses firearms and are investigating how he obtained illegal weapons.
“What happened in Nova Scotia was just awful, but that individual didn’t have a license to own any firearms, everything he had was illegal,” said Morrison.
Anyone who wishes to purchase and own firearms in Canada must have a possession and acquisition license for both non-restricted or restricted weapons, which can be obtained following the completion of a training course and testing.
Non-restricted firearms typically include hunting rifles and shotguns, while restricted firearms typically include handguns or firearms that have a barrel less than 470 millimetres and are capable of firing centre-fire ammunition in a semi-automatic manner, according to the RCMP.
Restricted firearms are usually used in target shooting competitions.
Morrison blamed the majority of national gun violence on gangs or organized crime that do not legally acquire weapons or hold the necessary licensing. He added that more resources should be dedicated to stopping the flow of illegal weapons into Canada from places like the U.S., noting that there should be more collaboration between an RCMP integrated border enforcement team, the Canadian Border Security Agency and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Morrison also argued that the classifications of firearms as non-restricted, restricted and prohibited, should be made by an expert gunsmith, rather than the RCMP.
“A gunsmith will know what that firearm can do,” said Morrison, himself a former RCMP officer. “If that firearm can do more than what it’s reported can be done, then maybe it should move into a restricted category or maybe into a prohib [sic] category.”
Morrison said he had previously pressed Public Safety Minister Bill Blair in parliamentary committee meetings to identify calibres that would fall under the ‘assault-style’ defnition, but didn’t get clear answers.
The ban covers a number of carbines such as the ArmaLite AR-15 and SIG Sauer MCX models and variants formerly classified as either non-restricted or restricted, as well as pistols and other types of weapons. A full list of the new prohibitions be found here.
With files from the Canadian Press
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