FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — The federal government added new amendments to its proposed firearm bill after its second reading, and it’s creating a buzz in northern communities.
“An Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms),” better known as Bill C-21, is currently in its consideration phase on Parliament Hill. The original act was meant to further restrict handguns in Canada.
After its second reading was completed in June 2022, the Liberal government added amendments to the bill that saw harsher restrictions added — restrictions that, after scrutiny, were found to impact other types of guns such as hunting rifles, shotguns, and antique guns.
There are four main amendments that seem to be getting the most attention when it comes to long arms and hunting rifles.
The first is the proposed amendment that would see rifles that could hold a magazine clip of over five rounds banned. The second is guns that produce more than 10,000 joules of energy. The third looks to ban guns with muzzles wider than 20 millimetres.
The fourth amendment is a list of named semi-automatic rifles that do not have removable magazine clips.
These new amendments spell disaster for many business owners, hunters, and sport shooters across Canada, including residents up in the Peace region.
Kody Mann works at Backcountry in Fort St. John. A outdoors store that also sells hunting
Mann said that the new amendments were disappointing, and said he struggled to see how targeting current, responsible gun owners would help improve safety in Canada.
Mann also said that he was worried about the impact these amendments would have on not only businesses like Backcountry, but also on traditions and sports across the country.
“Not only is C-21 curtailing many shooting sports across the country, [but] it will also make many traditions passed down from generation to generation a memory,” Mann said.
The negative feedback also came from inside the House of Commons. Conservative MP for the Prince George, North Peace, and Northern Rockies area, Bob Zimmer was among the more vocal Conservative MPs against the amendments.
Zimmer spoke with Energeticcity.ca, and said that placing harsher restrictions on rifles isn’t going to fix the problem.
“I think the responsibility is really on the Prime Minister and the minister to stop its attack on law-abiding firearms owners and go after the real problem,” Zimmer said.
According to Zimmer, the issue is a lack of border control. Something he says could be helped with the money the federal government would spend confiscating newly banned guns, should this bill come to pass.
“$5 billion will go a long way in equipping our border agents with better equipment and more manpower.”
When it comes to Bill C-21, it isn’t just Conservative MPs like Zimmer and Raquel Dancho that see problems with it, nor just folks from northern British Columbia.
NDP MP Charlie Angus represents the Timmins-James Bay riding of Ontario. A massive riding that encompasses much of northern Ontario. In a Facebook post on December 2nd, Angus expressed his disappointment in the direction the bill had gone.
“The bill is supposed to deal with handgun violence,” Angus said. “The provision on rifles, shotguns, removable clips is a huge overreach that will impact rural, northern and Indigenous people.”
Bill C-21 has yet to be passed. The bill has to finish its consideration phase before being given a report, read for a third time, and then finally passed to the Senate for its consideration.
Currently, the House of Commons is adjourned until the new year. Until the house sits again on January 30th, 2023, we won’t know which direction Bill C-21 will head.
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