Bill C 21 amendments could impact rural farmers, hunters

By Lacie Nairn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

THE DRUMHELLER MAIL

The Liberal federal government brought forward several proposed amendments to its gun control legislation, Bill C-21, in late November which could potentially lead to many rifles and shotguns commonly used for hunting prohibited.

One major change in the proposed amendments would add a definition for “assault-style” firearms, which is currently not defined in Canadian law, and would also include a clause to ban any long gun capable of accepting a detachable magazine able to hold more than five rounds of ammunition.

“Bill C-21 is deeply problematic in and of itself,” Battle River-Crowfoot MP Damien Kurek tells the Mail.

He adds there were significant problems with the bill, even before the proposed amendments were “dropped on the table in the eleventh hour,” and says the proposed amendments are a “backhanded, undemocratic approach” by the Liberal government.

“A bunch of firearms meant for hunting and farmers to protect their property, and sports shooters-these are important activities; for hunters and farmers, it’s integral to their livelihoods,” stated Alberta’s Minister of Justice Tyler Shandro during a virtual roundtable with rural media on Friday, December 9.

Bill C-21 was initially meant to ban handguns in a bid to reduce violent gun crime, but critics say the proposed changes are a significant departure from the original intention.

Both Minister Shandro and MP Kurek share concerns the federal Liberal government is using the image of “scary-looking” firearms to take them out of the hands of legal gun owners in Canada.

Conservatives are not the only ones with concerns around the proposed amendments to Bill C-21, either.

The amendments are also facing opposition from NDP and Liberal MPs, and the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) also publicly stated it could not support the bill as it is currently presented due to the impact it would have on Indigenous hunters and communities, many of whom currently use firearms on the proposed banned list.

Minister Shandro noted the Liberal government was previously accused they would use Bill C-21 to “eventually go after hunters and sportsmen,” and says this is exactly what is being proposed with the amendments to the bill.

MP Kurek acknowledges there is a rise in violent crimes and gun violence in the country, but says the proposed amendments do not address the real problem; he adds, in most cases, guns used in violent crimes are often illegally obtained through means such as cross border smuggling.

He also expressed concerns over “softened penalties” and reduced mandatory minimums for some firearms offenses outlined in Bill C-5, which received royal assent in November.

Minister Shandro shares similar sentiments, noting the fact Canada does not currently track illegal gun crime-an issue he says he has brought up to federal Minister of Public Safety Marco Mendicino.

He worries the proposed changes are not focused on safety, but rather on politics and targeting law-abiding Canadians.

Lacie Nairn is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter with THE DRUMHELLER MAIL. The LJI is a federally funded program.

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