NDP's Bill C-580
CSSA's Press Release and Analysis of the Bill.




For Immediate Release

October 21, 2010

NDP's Bill C-580 gives gun owners
renewed energy for election fight.

Sport shooters show disgust at feeble ploy to "fix" gun registry.

(Vaughan ON – October 21, 2010) Private Members' Bill C-580 tabled by NDP MP Charlie Angus earlier this month is ill-conceived and leaves firearms owners to conclude it is nothing more than a confiscation tool.

Bill C-580 is highly flawed legislation that tightens the screws on sport shooters by promoting gun bans, more bureaucracy and more red tape without contributing to public safety. The bill is designed to punish without cause sport shooters who enjoy Canada's heritage activities, says Tony Bernardo, Executive Director of the Canadian Institute for Legislative Action.

"This bill was designed to be a wolf in sheep's clothing, and it took Canadian sport shooters about two seconds to figure that out," says Bernardo. "It's the worst kind of insult to Canada's two million firearms owners because it pretends to compensate for the shortcomings in the wasteful long-gun registry. Instead, it drives a stake deeper into the collective heart of the sport shooting industry."

Angus's attempt to market his bill to "respect the concerns of rural Canadians while enhancing public safety" is being ridiculed by gun owners. The bill merely espouses New Democratic Party anti-gun dogma and plays to Canadians who aren't comfortable with guns in society.

"Bill C-580 tries to introduce a local version of Britain's ‘sporting use test,'" explains Bernardo. "It allows a biased bureaucracy to define hunting and sporting firearms so it can prohibit firearms they don't like from being imported into Canada. Angus admits he wants to close the "loopholes" on a common sporting and hunting rifle currently used by tens of thousands of Canadians. This is the slippery slope to wholesale confiscation.

"Angus has already angered gun owners by claiming that the fear of confiscation was created by paranoid conspiracy theorists," adds Bernardo. "He obviously knows too little about the gun file to be creating legislation to run it. Sport shooters use virtually every type of firearm available for target shooting, so by definition they are all sporting guns."

The NDP MP claims he consulted with interested parties prior to drafting the bill, but the bill shows no evidence that it took place. He did not contact the Canadian Shooting Sports Association (CSSA), which is Canada's largest firearms association, or the Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association, the industry body. Angus appears to have consulted only with anti-gun groups that don't understand the value of heritage sports to millions of Canadians.

"This bill wants to take away the guns that belong to good, law-abiding people who put safety first," he continues. "All we're asking is to leave us alone because responsible firearms owners are not the problem – go after the criminals instead. Does Angus even care that firearms have been an integral part of Olympic sports since 1896? Over 50 medals are awarded now for rifle, shotgun and handgun shooting. Why don't the opposition parties get it?"

Bernardo is also communications director of the CSSA. He predicts that Angus and the other opposition members of Parliament who flip-flopped on their support for Bill C-391 to scrap the registry will have a rough ride in the next federal election.

"The CSSA and many wildlife federations will remind voters loud and clear that they were abandoned in their time of need," says Bernardo. "The tabling of Bill C-580 is twisting the knife for gun owners. If Angus introduced this bill as a last-ditch effort to placate his constituents and other rural Canadians, he should be advised that he did just the opposite. He has given responsible gun owners a renewed reason to fight. For that, we thank him."

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For further information, contact:

Tony Bernardo
Canadian Institute for Legislative Action
905-571-2150

Larry Whitmore
Canadian Shooting Sports Association
519-254-7744

The CSSA is the voice of the sport shooter and firearms enthusiast in Canada. Our national membership supports and promotes traditional target shooting competition, modern action shooting sports, hunting, and archery. We support and sponsor competitions and youth programs that promote these Canadian heritage activities




Analysis

BILL C-580: Fixing the gun registry, or fixing gun owners?

Bill C-580 was tabled on October 8, 2010 as a private members bill by NDP M.P. Charlie Angus to address potential fixes to the long gun registry. Its stated purpose was to "respect the concerns of rural Canadians while enhancing public safety." It does not accomplish either purpose.

Let's examine the goals in detail, along with other aspects of C-580 that the NDP have chosen not to publicize.

Providing a first-time exemption from criminal penalty for not registering a long-gun:

C-580 provides this exemption for "first time offenders" only if charged under Section 112 of the Firearms Act, a little used section that can already result in a fine for the offense of possession of a non-restricted firearm without a registration certificate. The usual charge laid by police is a Section 91 offense under the Criminal Code. Bill C-580 does NOT address Section 91 offenses.

Mandating the Auditor General to provide financial oversight of the registry:

Auditor General Sheila Fraser stated to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security in May 2010 that she could not possibly conduct any financial audit for the next three years due to prior commitments. It is only a good idea if it is tied to a cost/benefit analysis. The Auditor General is not mandated to perform a cost/benefit analysis.

Protecting the privacy of gun owners' identifying information:

C-580 permits any records of any individual to be released to any person, inside or outside Canada, "in the interests of public safety." Bye, bye privacy. This maintains the shopping list for criminals.

Creating a legal guarantee to uphold Aboriginal treaty rights:

While C-580 states an offense under any of sections 90, 91, 93, 97, 101, 104 and 105 may have the effect of abrogating or derogating from any existing aboriginal or treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 may not be proceeded with, it places the onus upon the Defendant to prove his or her treaty rights were violated. This process will cost the Defendant tens of thousands of dollars to prove a violation. A decision favourable to the Defendant would almost certainly be appealed by the Crown. In net effect, there is little difference over what currently exists.

Establishing permanently free registration

Not quite. C-580 only eliminates the fees for Non-Restricted firearms. Owners of restricted and prohibited firearms will still be subject to an, as yet, undefined fee. This serves to create a two-tier system. Given the rest of the provisions in this bill one can assume this is deliberate. The fees for registering any firearm were eliminated in 2003 and registration has remained free since. These provisions in C-580 are a step backward, not forward. And remember, the Canadian taxpayer will end up stuck with the tab. Nothing is free.

Allowing military and police to share important information with the Canadian Firearms Program, including mental health concerns

This section should read "Requiring military and police..." It requires that Canadian military and police personnel must disclose whether they have ever served with the Canadian Forces or have ever served as a police officer. In doing so, all their service records become open to the Chief Firearms Officer without their consent. It is appalling that someone who has served Canada with honour should be subject to "criminal suspicion" because of their former occupation. This is precisely the issue that ordinary Canadians have bitterly complained about for so long. If, as C-580 implies, these individuals present a risk by virtue of their service to our country, perhaps we should be examining whether they should be given firearms in the first place? This section is offensive to those who serve and certainly does not indicate any "fix" of the long gun registry. On behalf of all gun owners, we are ashamed this made it to First Reading.

The following sections are not publicized in the NDP releases.

Ripping off widows and families

(2) Paragraph 112(2)( b ) of the Act is replaced by the following:

( b ) a person who comes into possession of a firearm by operation of law and who, within 90 days or such longer period as may be granted by a chief firearms officer under subsection (2.1), lawfully disposes of it or obtains a registration certificate for it; or

This is the section of the Firearm Act that pertains to firearms placed in the possession of an Executor for the purposes of lawful distribution under the Inheritance Act. Currently, the sentence states the person has a "reasonable time" to fulfill their obligations under the two Acts. This current wording is appropriate. Larger collections may be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and require months (or years) to sell at fair market prices. Bill C-580 removes that option from an executor of an estate, forcing very valuable firearms to be sold off at bargain basement prices within a 90-day period. Literally, this section rips off widows and families by forcing the sale of valuable estate property. This grossly unfair.

Bill C-580 does allow for the extension of the 90-day period by permitting a single 90-day extension. In order to obtain that extension however, the widow must go, hat in hand, to the Chief Firearms Officer and be granted permission to extend. Simply put, another basic right subject to an arbitrary decision made by an appointed bureaucrat.

Gun bans – fasten your seat belt!

4. Section 117.15 of the Act is amended by adding the following after subsection (2):

(3) The Governor in Council may make regulations requiring a manufacturer or importer to provide information for the purpose of establishing that the thing in question is reasonable for use in Canada for hunting or sporting purposes.

This section is a Canadianized version of the infamous British "Sporting use test" where all firearms are subject to bureaucratic interpretation as to what justifies a hunting or sporting firearm. This has been used to prohibit most of the firearms in Great Britain. It places enormous power in the hands of the bureaucracy to ban firearms. It is obvious that this is the intent of this section. Charlie Angus spoke of "closing the loopholes" in order to prohibit the popular Ruger Mini-14 Ranch Rifle, a common sporting and hunting firearm used by tens of thousands of Canadians. As the Mini-14 is no different than many other hunting rifles, this would be the start of wholesale confiscation.

Summary

It is very clear that this legislation does little or nothing to address the problems inherent with the long-gun registry of the Firearms Act. It is "smoke and mirrors" legislation which will certainly lead to further prohibitions of firearms, increased bureaucratic authority and more regulatory hoops firearms owners will have to jump through. Bill C-580 proves Canadian firearms owners cannot turn to the NDP party for relief from this oppressive legislation. Whether intentional or not, C-580 is proof positive: They just don't get it.

The CSSA believes all responsible firearms owners should strive to ensure Bill C-580 never sees the light of day.