Bill C-71 – a Backdoor Attempt to Bring Back the Long-Gun Registry

April 02, 2021

On March 20, 2018, the current Liberal government introduced Bill C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms. The government claims this proposed legislation, “prioritizes public safety and effective police work, while respecting law-abiding firearms owners.” However, the reality is something entirely different, as the legislation does nothing to address violence in urban and rural communities. Canadians will see this Bill for what it truly is – a backdoor attempt to bring back the wasteful and ineffective long-gun registry.

We, the Conservative Official Opposition, believe that the safety of Canadians should be the number one priority of any government. Unfortunately, Bill C-71 has no new measures to combat gang violence in the GTA and escalating crime rates in our rural communities. The current Liberal government cannot be trusted when it comes to firearms legislation because they fail to tackle criminals who use guns to commit violent crime, while treating law-abiding firearms owners as criminals.

More specifically, the proposed legislation targets law abiding firearms owners by requiring the firearms “Registrar” to issue a “reference number” for firearms transactions, including non-restricted firearms. This can be viewed as constituting a “backdoor gun registry.” The legislation would require commercial retailers to maintain records of their inventories and sales. As with Clause 5, these records will be kept by the “Registrar” and the transactions will include “reference numbers.” Such records would be accessible to police officers if they obtain a warrant. It’s also noteworthy that in Clause 7 of the Bill regarding the destruction of records, the prescribed official only “may” destroy the records; it does not say “must” or “shall.”

Another point of concern with Bill C-71 is that it will repeal parts of our previous Conservative government’s old Bill C-42, the Common Sense Firearms Licencing Act that put the power to classify weapons in the hands of Parliamentarians rather than RCMP bureaucrats. However, at the same time, the proposed legislation also grandfathers in many of the Czech and Swiss rifles which are popular amongst sport shooters. This raises the question of how dangerous these firearms could possibly be if the current Liberal government is willing to grandfather in current owners.

Bill C-71 also requires that whenever a non-restricted firearm is transferred, the buyer must show their licence and the vendor must verify it is valid (currently the law states that it is an offence to sell firearms to anyone who does not have a licence, which in reality this means firearms vendors always check an individual’s licence). The current Liberal government is being disingenuous when they try to suggest that people can easily buy firearms in Canada without a licence.

We, the Conservative Official Opposition, will never support legislation that targets law-abiding firearms owners and treats them like criminals. We will continue to fight for concrete actions to keep Canadians safe and focus our efforts on the criminal element behind firearms violence, just like we did when we were in government and passed important pieces of legislation, such as: the Tackling Violent Crime Act, the Organized Crime and Protection of Justice System Participants Act, as well as support for the National Crime Prevention Strategy, and the creation of: the Northern and Aboriginal Crime Prevention Fund, the Youth Justice Fund, and the Youth Gang Prevention Fund.

Bill C-71 does nothing to address violence in urban and rural communities. It amounts to the current Liberal government using a federal registrar to keep records on law-abiding firearms owners. Registrars keep registries. Canadians can easily see this is the current government’s attempt at resurrecting the wasteful and ineffective long-gun registry. We will continue to stand up for law-abiding Canadians and for measures that actually address the criminal element behind firearms violence.