ILA | Canada’s Liberal Government: More Gun Control!

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even though the term is legally and factually meaningless. Against this backdrop, a depiction of the gun alone may be enough, given the vague language of the bill.

Under the “red flag” confiscation provision in Section 4, any person may apply, ex parte, for an “emergency prohibition order” to prohibit another person from possessing “any firearm, cross bow, prohibited weapon, restricted weapon, prohibited device, ammunition, prohibited ammunition or explosive substance, or all such things,” provided the applicant has a belief, on reasonable grounds, that “it is not desirable in the interests of …safety” that the other person possess such things. The “not desirable” standard in the bill is far from demanding, and a court hearing these applications will only hear from one side – not only is this inherently unfair, but it makes it much more likely that an order will issue, even with baseless allegations.

A separate provision, Section 10, authorizes anyone to make an ex parte application for an “emergency limitations on access order,” against a person who has done nothing other than be an alleged cohabitant or “an associate of another person who is prohibited” by order from possessing firearms or other weapons. The court, in making this order, may impose “any terms and conditions on the person’s use and possession of any thing… that the judge considers appropriate” and subject them, like the individual under suspicion of being a danger, to warrantless searches by the police.

The bill would impose a new handgun license condition that makes lawful possession dependent on whether a municipality has enacted a bylaw (ordinance) on handguns and provided the appropriate notice to the federal government. The bylaw options in Section 26 include a bylaw that prohibits storage and almost all transport of a handgun within municipal boundaries. Under the constitutional division of powers between the provinces and the federal government, provinces have the exclusive authority to regulate municipalities and whatever powers are delegated to them.

One province, Alberta, has a pending bill that would prohibit a municipal council from passing “a bylaw respecting firearms.” As it happens, mayors of its two largest cities have rejected the city-by-city “patchwork” approach in Bill C-21, but Alberta’s Minister of Justice and Solicitor General, Kaycee Madu, has nonetheless indicated the province would “vigilantly defend its jurisdiction” should C-21 pass.

In a statement accompanying the introduction of Bill C-21, Prime Minister Trudeau emphasized that his government was “continuing to take every step necessary to combat gun violence and keep Canadians and communities safe.” As with the previous measures his government has put forward, the burden of these restrictions will fall most heavily on the already law-abiding firearm businesses and individual hunters, farmers, sports shooters, and competitors. To borrow the language of Alberta’s Kaycee Madu, the “federal government seems to be obsessively focused on duly-licensed Canadian firearms owners. Hundreds of thousands of Canadians purchased their property legally, and have used that property legally and safely for many years. These citizens should not be treated like criminals by their own federal government.”

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