Senate Bill S-223 Update

Just received a briefing on Bill S-223 and wanted to share some updated information. While the bill is still being reviewed, here's some of the points to keep in mind.

1. This is a Private Member's Bill put forward by Senator Céline Hervieux-Payette, not by the Liberal Party. Senator Hervieux-Payette is a member of the Liberal Party however, and served as Leader of the Opposition in the Senate from 2007-2008. In 2015 she tabled Bill S-231 'An Act to amend the Firearms Act, the Criminal Code and the Defence Production Act', an earlier version of the current bill, which died in August, 2015 when Parliament was dissolved.

2. Senator Hervieux-Payette is scheduled to retire on April 22nd. It is not clear if the bill dies when its sponsor retires. Technically, the bill requires a sponsor to proceed.

3. We will know what support is coming from the Liberal Party today, as they are scheduled to speak to the bill sometime today. Following first reading, both the Liberals and the Conservatives have an opportunity to speak to the bill. The Conservatives have not yet been scheduled to speak.

Once both parties have spoken to the proposed bill, it will move to second reading in the Senate. It will then be voted dead or voted to a Senate committee for review. After the committee has reviewed the bill and made any recommended changes, the bill's sponsor can then put the bill forward for third reading with or without the committee recommendations. It is then voted on for the final time by the Senate. If the bill wins Senate approval at this point, it would go to the House of Commons and start the process all over again.

4. Senate bills rarely succeed. Private Member's Bills rarely succeed.

5. It appears the main objective of the bill is to carve out a minimal group of firearms suitable for hunting purposes and move everything else into the restricted or prohibited category. The restricted category is renamed "conscripted".

All "conscripted" firearms would be restricted to storage at a gun club or other approved federal facility and could only be transported by an authorized transporter.

The way the bill is currently written and being interpreted is that only smooth bore shotguns, except semi-automatic, and semi-automatic .22 calibre rifles would fit the definition of hunting firearms. Everything else would fall into the new "conscripted" or restricted category.

All firearms would be required to be "inscribed" which Hervieux-Payette has stated replaces "registered".

The Senator's earlier version, Bill S-231 had little or no support from the Liberal party. It's not clear what prompted her to introduce this new version just days before she is scheduled to retire.

More to come as this unfolds...