Some gun enthusiasts live in Slave Lake and area. For example, there is a Slave Lake Airsoft Group, the Slave Lake Rod and Gun Club, and the Kinuso and District Fish and Game Association.
On March 6, Peace River – Westlock MP Arnold Viersen held an online open house on Firearms and Public Safety. Medicine Hat MP Glen Motz did most of the talking, with Viersen and people from the public asking questions.
Motz is a retired Medicine Hat police officer and is on the Public Safety Committee and other related committees.
Both Viersen and Motz grew up around firearms and are registered gun owners. Motz also has a restricted firearms license.
“Firearm ownership in this country is a privilege,” said Motz. For years, Canadians have needed a license (PAL or RPAL) to buy firearms and ammunition. These have very strict conditions.
The discussion touched the May 2020 order in council and the proposed Bill C21.
Back in May, cabinet introduced an order in council which prohibited 1,500 firearms, said Motz. Since then, 450 more have been added to the list. The order in council used “misleading language to describe a problem that didn’t exist.”
Military grade assault rifles have been banned in Canada since 1978, says Motz.
“We don’t have a problem with legal firearm owners,” he adds.
Recently, Bill C21 was tabled in parliament, Motz said. It does nothing to combat gang violence or smuggling. Bill C21 includes three sections that Motz finds worrying:
One – it bans toy guns (such as airsoft and paintball), 0.22s, shotguns, and handguns.
Back in May, Motz specifically asked if these types of guns would be impacted by the order in council and was told they would not.
Two – it has red flag/yellow flag laws. These would allow anyone to go before a judge to have firearms taken away from their owner if they cause a threat to themselves or others. At the moment, the law is that people complain to the police, who investigate. If the investigation shows a threat, the police take their evidence to a judge.
The new law could result in vindictive and false accusations, said Motz.
Third – it allows municipalities to make bylaws banning handguns with criminal implications.
If the law passes, said Motz, a registered firearm owner transporting his or her gun safely to a gun range could be charged criminally based on a bylaw. For example, if a handgun owner from Wabamum wanted to go to a gun range in Sherwood Park, but Edmonton had a municipal handgun ban, he’d have to drive around it or risk criminal charges.
This is not a good idea, says Motz, “there’s a reason the federal government is responsible for criminal law.”