Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024

Le Senate adopts Bill C-21 which strengthens the freeze on handguns

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The Upper House of Parliament.

The Canadian Press

Voice synthesis, based on artificial intelligence, makes it possible to generate a spoken text from written text.

Senators passed a bill that tightens restrictions on handguns, increases penalties for gun trafficking and aims to combat homemade ghost guns.

The bill introduces new measures to prevent firearms from falling into the hands of perpetrators of domestic violence and increases the maximum penalties for firearms smuggling and trafficking from 10 to 14 years.

The legislation, known as Bill C-21, also includes a ban on assault-style firearms that fall under the ;a new technical definition. It would apply to weapons designed and manufactured after the bill takes effect.

Under the bill, a prohibited firearm will also include any illegally manufactured firearm, regardless of the means or method of manufacture, a measure targeting homemade ghost guns.

Senators today voted 60 to 24 in favor of the bill on third reading.

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In a press release, the PolySeSouvient group applauded the expanded definition of domestic violence in the bill, to include domestic and intimate violence , including non-physical forms such as coercive control and suicide threats, and an expanded definition of a “protection order.”

Bill C-21 contains strong measures to improve the protection of victims of domestic violence from threats and gun violence through a series of measures addressing this often overlooked aspect of the gun control debate, said by voice by Nathalie Provost, who was injured during the mass shooting at the École Polytechnique de Montréal in 1989 and who is a spokesperson for PolySeSouvient.

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Nathalie Provost, survivor of the Polytechnique shooting and member of the PolySeSouvient collective (Archive photo)

She added that the measures represent concrete and effective progress that will save lives, among other things because of the automatic prohibition of possession of firearms for any individual subject to a protection order. This is a measure requested by PolySeSouvient since 2018.

When the bill was introduced last year, the Liberals announced a plan to freeze the importation, purchase, sale or other transfer of handguns in order to help reduce gun violence.

Federal regulations aimed at limiting the number of handguns in Canada are now in place force, and the bill contains provisions that would strengthen the freeze.

The House of Commons passed the bill 207 votes to 113 last spring with the support of Liberal, NDP, Bloc and Green MPs.

Conservatives and some gun owners have strongly opposed the bill, saying it penalizes law-abiding gun users instead of targeting criminal violence army.

In the Senate this week, Opposition Leader [Senator] Don Plett called the legislation an inherently bad and divisive bill for Canada.

If we are to be honest, colleagues, I think we have to accept the fact that this government actually wanted this bill to create discord, said the Conservative senator. This is because they consider this bill to be an obstacle for the Liberal Party in the next election.

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Conservative Manitoba Senator Don Plett says the bill is divisive for the country. (File photo)

Plett says the handgun freeze will do nothing to reduce gun crime. Instead, it will only destroy competitive shooting sports in Canada, with no benefit.

However, senators ultimately approved the plan of law without amendment.

Survivors and victims of some of Canada's worst mass shootings have welcomed the development.

Boufeldja Benabdallah, co-founder of the Quebec mosque that was the target of a deadly shooting in 2017, applauded the restrictions on handguns.

While not a total ban, we are very happy about the freeze on purchases of new handguns, as it is an important step in the right direction.

PolySeSouvient is saddened by the absence in Bill C-21 of a ban on assault weapons. Additionally, the new definition of a prohibited weapon only applies to models that have not yet been invented and is easily circumvented, according to the group.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">Hundreds of models of assault firearms remain legal, the group stressed.

PolySeSouvient cautioned that the potential benefits of most key public safety measures will depend on upcoming regulations that spell out the details.

Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc says the government will reestablish the Canadian Firearms Advisory Committee to independently review the classification of existing models that fall under the new definition of a prohibited firearm in the bill.

He told senators in October that the exercise would identify weapons legitimately used for hunting, which would be excluded from the ban.

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Federal Minister of Public Safety, Dominic LeBlanc (Archive photo)

Mr. LeBlanc said the government would also implement a long-planned buyback of 1,500 firearm models and variants banned by executive order in May 2020.

In addition, the government plans to adopt regulations to ensure a complete ban on high-capacity chargers.

Ms. Provost said she is optimistic regarding the government's commitments, but it remains on the lookout.

We know that the gun lobby will continue to use its considerable resources and influence to weaken, delay or block any meaningful progress, Ms. Provost said, adding that the fight is not over.

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