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...

Bill C-42 signed into law today

The “Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act” granted Royal Assent

June 18, 2015 - The Harper government's legislation to rid Canada of some bureaucratic burdens inherent in the Firearms Act is a welcome step in the right direction for responsible firearms owners.

The Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association (CSAAA) has been working with the Conservative party for many years to achieve increasing degrees of firearms fairness. Tony Bernardo, government affairs director of the CSAAA, says the new legislation has been a long time coming.

“Getting rid of the Authorization to Transport and merging Possession-Only Licenses with Possession and Acquisition Licenses is an important step that demonstrates the government has been listening to the people,” says Bernardo. “This legislation shows us, once again, that this administration can be trusted. This is further proof that the government is making good on its intentions to overhaul the onerous Firearms Act that the former Liberal government created. Their reams of red tape failed to improve public safety one iota, but they did succeed in demonstrating their contempt for trustworthy Canadian firearms owners.”

Bernardo, a long-time adviser to the federal government, said while the firearms community stands to win from the new bill, the bill is a progressive move for all Canadians. He notes that taxpayers have long paid for two almost identical licensing systems and hundreds of thousands of handwritten transport permits that did nothing. Bernardo states, “ Even the Chief Firearms Officers acknowledge that the Authorization to Transport permit is very rarely refused and almost never revoked. That begs the question, why issue it at all?”

The CSAAA has long advocated changes that would lighten the legislative burden legitimate businesses face every day.

“This is another significant step forward and a cause for celebration among all responsible firearms owners,” says Bernardo. “We have spent many long hours on Parliament Hill and C-42 addresses several irritating stones in the shoes of lawful businesses. When this government stands to reject legislation designed only to harass the law-abiding, every Canadian should rejoice in the new-found fairness and freedom for the sporting firearms industry.

“This government promised to pass this bill before the end of the session and they have fulfilled that commitment,” explains Bernardo. “Like the ending of the long gun registry, the sky will not fall. Public safety will be just as intact as before. Just as Canadians came to realize that the registry was a waste of time and money, we believe they will come to accept additional cuts in red tape in the spirit of fairness to responsible firearms owners. These are changes that the general public would never even notice, but responsible Canadian sport shooters will be much better off.”

Bernardo says while the Harper government has acted in good faith so far, he is looking forward to additional legislative progress to roll back the damage done to sport shooters from previous governments. He says the $6+ billion that changes hands in the Canadian firearms industry annually is an important source of revenue, jobs and taxes. The government’s willingness to treat responsible gun owners with the respect they deserve will be a boon for the Canadian economy as a whole.

CSAAA President Wes Winkel said the associations’ members applaud the new legislation. “Our business owners have been supporting this initiative for some time. We are grateful for the nine years of work Mr. Bernardo has put in representing us in this process and very supportive of the outcome.”

For further information contact:

Alison de Groot

Managing Director