MP Karen Ludwig Speaks on Bill C-71 Firearms Legislation
Madam Speaker, I represent the riding of New Brunswick Southwest, a riding with many gun owners. We have at least 30 gun clubs. We also have one of the busiest gun dealerships in Canada.
For owners, guns can mean recreation and, sometimes, a way to put food on the table. For the clubs, sport shooting enhances socializing among those who admire craftsmanship in weapons and accuracy in targeting. For the dealerships, guns provide jobs.
I have discussed this legislation with owners, club members, dealers and other citizens all over my riding of New Brunswick Southwest. I also studied and completed a two-day course in firearms handling. I am proud to say that I now hold a firearms possession and acquisition licence.
I also talked with women's organizations, survivors of gun violence and law enforcement officials. I spoke with the Minister of Public Safety. I brought his parliamentary secretary to my riding to speak directly with gun club presidents.
Along the way, I discussed the bill with a good many members opposite. I enjoyed going to a shooting range near Ottawa with the outdoors parliamentary caucus. I have worked hard to fathom out this legislation and what it means for my constituents and other Canadians.
I conclude the following. I support responsible gun owners. I cannot see that Bill C-71 hurts them. Therefore, I support the legislation because it helps protect gun owners, as it does all citizens.
My riding, with its good, responsible gun owners, is considered a safe area. However, Fredericton and Moncton were also traditionally considered safe areas, too. We all remember the headlines about the tragic shooting in Fredericton in August of this year, and in Moncton in June 2014. It can happen so quickly when guns fall into the wrong hands.
Responsible people should be able to keep their guns without undue hindrance, but good people should be able to live freely in cities, towns and villages without undue risk from gun-carrying criminals or people who have threatened or inflicted harm on others.
Let us all remember the shocking number of tormented souls among us who, even though they were showing signs of mental difficulty, got hold of guns and committed suicide. Whether it is mental health, criminality or threatening behaviour, we should be able to double-check for dangers.
The bill is not a new handgun ban. It is not a long gun registry. In large part it is not new. There is a commitment in this legislation not to reinstate the long gun registry. A number of its main features existed before. We lived with those regulations for a long time, and they protected lives.
Then the previous government took them away. Since that time, for various reasons, gun-related deaths in Canada have sharply increased. So has the number of female victims of violent crimes with a firearm present.
Recreating and strengthening sensible legislation can put us back on a better track. For example, authorities will once again be able to require a permit for transporting restricted and prohibited weapons. This does not affect ordinary guns, only those on the higher side of danger.
In another restored regulation, the seller of a firearm will need to verify the purchaser's possession and acquisition licence. This will take a brief phone call. Responsible sellers and buyers will not object to that. Nor will they protest legislation that, as in decades past, required firearms vendors to record what they sold.
The existing law already enables those granting a firearms licence to consider an applicant's criminal offences or mental illness associated with violence or other history of violence, but only for the last five years. Bill C-71 allows taking account of the person's earlier history. That is a sensible change. It derives from a private member's bill put forward by a former Conservative MP.
The legislation incorporates other amendments from other parties in the House.
I hope we can continue to put public safety over partisanship. I am sure none of us want to hurt good people who own guns, but neither do we want guns in the wrong hands to hurt good people.
When all is said and done, this is a good bill for responsible gun owners. At times, strident voices from here and there have tried to paint too many responsible gun owners as villains. Sensible legislation can reassure the public that we are taking reasonable measures to keep guns in good hands and that common sense is prevailing.
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Oakville North—Burlington, and I support this proposed legislation.