The federal Liberal government has introduced a Bill which tightens laws on gun ownership and use. Gun control lobbyists say it doesn't go far enough, gun owner advocates say it will do nothing to curb gangs and gun violence and create more hurdles for law-abiding owners. PHOTO: Sean Kilpatrick-CP

Canadian Government introduces new gun restrictions

Citing an increase in gangs and gun crime, yesterday the federal Liberal government introduced new restrictions and obligations for gun ownership in Canada, called Bill C-71.

Tony Bernardo is the executive director of the Canadian Shooting Sports Association (CSSA), a gun owners advocacy group.


With its proposed new legislation (Bill C-71) the federal government has insisted it would not, and has not ,re-introduced a so-called “long gun registry” (LGR)  of rifles and shotguns, which has been highly controversial in the past.

Tony Bernardo is the executive-director of the gun owner advocacy group, the Canadian Shooting Sports Association.. PHOTO: CSSA

.While every legal owner of firearms is themselves registered” through the licence system, and while all guns listed as restricted are also registered, the majority of rifles and shotguns were not, until the implementation of the LGR.

The original LGR was instituted as a way to better track long guns and thus increase public safety.  Thousands of gun owners, and many critics said it did nothing to increase public safety but was astronomically costly and potentially placed many law-abiding owners into a criminal situation for very minor mistakes. It was extremely controversial from the beginning and was cancelled by the previous Conservative government.

The federal Liberal Minister of Public Safety has strongly insisted that the new law does not constitute a renewal of the LGR.

The Hon. Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety PHOTO: CBC TV

However, many firearms owners and advocates say the Bill is simply the LGR through the backdoor. The Liberals have also helped the province of Quebec as it establishes its own LGR as a replacement to the federal one.

Bernardo also points out that the common use of the term “assault rifle” to describe modern sporting rifles is deliberately wrong. He says that although they may look similar to military rifles, they simply are not.

Three civilian variants of the AR-15 style of rifle. Commonly referred to as “assault rifles” the versions sold in Canada are not, they are merely modern semi-auto sporting rifles, but have been classed as “restricted” in Canada requiring additional licence and mandatory training to purchase. PHOTO: Rich Pedronelli- AP

He also notes that the oft-repeated criticism that such rifles are no good for hunting and only good for killing people is also deliberately wrong. He notes that in the US and elsewhere they are widely used for hunting but aren’t good for hunting in Canada only because the government has decided they cannot be used for hunting.

Tony Bernardo says the proposed new laws once again pose difficulties and unnecessary restrictions on legal gun owners, and again will have virtually no effect on gang violence and illegal gun possession.

He and other gun owner advocacy groups say this will only serve to incite controversy in Canada once again.

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