(Ottawa) The federal government will drop the list of prohibited assault weapons in its new amendments to Bill C-21. It plans to add a process for authorizing firearms before they arrive on the Canadian market, which would be managed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). This new tool had been requested by the Bloc Québécois.
“We will not bring the list back,” Public Security Minister Marco Mendicino said in a scrum after his appearance in parliamentary committee on Tuesday. However, the government intends to table a new definition of assault weapons that would take into account one of the recommendations of the Commission on the killings in Portapique, Nova Scotia, which killed 22 people.
“We believe the best way forward is to focus on an objective definition that will include the physical characteristics [of firearms] so that we can be clear, consistent, upfront with gun owners,” said he indicated.
The Mass Casualty Commission had recommended that the government in March include in the Criminal Code a ban on all semi-automatic weapons and shotguns that fire centerfire ammunition and are designed to accept detachable magazines with a capacity more than five cartridges.
“This way of doing it was clearly not the right one. Is the definition itself going to be satisfactory without a list? That’s another question, ”reacted Bloc MP Kristina Michaud.
“The list caused a lot of confusion,” recalled NDP MP Peter Julian.
Both amendments included an evolving definition to encompass both firearms already on the market and those to come, and a long list of prohibited models that ran to over 300 pages. This list had sown anger and confusion. In addition to the models already prohibited by decree, it included the SKS, a military-style weapon frequently used by hunters and Native people. The Assembly of First Nations had strongly opposed Bill C-21 in December, months before the government withdrew its amendments.
The future of the SKS is still not the subject of consensus.
The goal is to ban assault weapons that can be used for mass killings like the one at Polytechnique, where 14 women were killed and 13 others injured, or like the one that occurred in Toronto’s Danforth neighborhood in 2018 , which left 2 dead and 13 injured.
The PolySeSouvient group, which is campaigning for such a ban, said it was encouraged. “It is clear that there is now a firm and shared intention to find a legislative solution to include an assault weapons ban in Bill C-21, consistent with the recommendations of the Mass Casualty Commission,” reacted his spokesperson, Nathalie Provost, by press release.
The group advocated a two-pronged approach with a definition and a list of prohibited weapons because it is more comprehensive. However, he believes that other means could have the same effect, such as adding a safeguard in the law to prevent a government from changing the classification of a weapon prohibited by decree.
“What you see with the executive order are loopholes that manufacturers have deliberately or inadvertently used,” Julian said. The New Democratic Party (NDP) would like to target manufacturers.
The government intends to remedy this by proposing a mechanism for the authorization of firearms by the RCMP. “Manufacturers have a responsibility when it comes to classifying their firearm models and it’s not happening properly,” Minister Mendicino acknowledged. He would like manufacturers to work closely with law enforcement to have new models classified as prohibited or not before they hit the market.
The Conservatives are calling for the complete withdrawal of Bill C-21 on gun control. “Other elements in it are not supported by the targeted groups, such as the ‘red flag’ provision. We thought it would be good, but it’s not,” said Tory MP Raquel Dancho.
This section of the bill would allow anyone to apply to the court for an emergency firearms ban for up to 30 days when the holder is a danger to themselves or others.
The New Democrat leader had tried to dispel doubts at a press briefing on Tuesday. Jagmeet Singh spoke out for a ban on assault weapons and handguns and said his party would introduce amendments to Bill C-21 to target gun manufacturers.
“I want to make it clear that I, personally as a leader, and we as a party, are for a ban on assault weapons,” he said. We are for a ban on handguns. »
The groups PolySeSouvient in Montreal and Danforth Families for Safe Communities in Toronto had called on Mr. Singh the previous day to clarify his party’s position. They accuse some New Democrat MPs of having relayed the misinformation conveyed by the pro-gun lobby. The NDP, they say, is undermining gun control efforts during the study of Bill C-21 in parliamentary committee.
A coalition of 32 feminist organizations, including the Fédération des femmes du Québec, also wrote to the NDP leader asking him to “strongly” support new amendments to ban assault weapons and impose a the sale of new handguns. The coalition is calling on the NDP to “work urgently” to ensure that the legislation passes third reading before Parliament adjourns for the summer.