Withdrawal of amendments only a temporary relief to gun owners

By Vivian Collings

The federal Liberal government withdrew two amendments to Bill C-21, which would have banned thousands of firearms, on Friday, Feb. 3.

Among those to be banned were rifles used by some hunters. So the withdrawl may have offered some temporary relief to hunters and sport shooters, but many are still apprehensive about the future.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said the decision came after he and his team had pressured Justin Trudeau’s government to temporarily back down from their proposed amendments.

Leader of the Government in the House of Commons Mark Holland said in a statement Friday, “More work had to be done to hear from Indigenous communities and Canadians across the board. It is absolutely critical that this bill get adopted and that they take handguns off our streets and assault-style weapons, and there are a couple of items that we still need to have conversations about that were contained in the amendments.”

The two amendments were unexpectedly announced in November of 2022 and faced strong opposition from hunters, shooters, the Assembly of First Nations, New Democrats and western provinces.

Canada’s Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said they will attempt to reintroduce the prohibitions in either more amendments to C-21 or a new law, meaning gun owners may not be in the clear for long.

Among millions in the country are plenty of local hunters and shooters including Keith Cunningham, retired Canadian Forces military captain, and Linda Miller, both owners of MilCun Training Centre in Minden.

The Bill was created to be a “comprehensive strategy to address gun violence,” states the Canadian government, but the avid sport shooters said it has not made an impact on street crime.

“Banning hunting rifles that have been used for a hundred years does not contribute to the safety of Canadians,” Cunningham and Miller said in an email to the Echo. “Yes, of course we can use another firearm that’s not on the banned list, but why would we need to? There are nearly three million law abiding gun owners in Canada. If we were the problem, it’d be obvious.”

Bill C-21 proposes a number of amendments to the Firearms Act in the Canadian Criminal Code and originally focused on handguns before the introduction of the amendments to prohibit certain rifles.

“We have the same comments for all the other firearms in C-21 and the 2020 Order in Council (OIC) firearm bans as we do for withdrawing of these two amendments: this hasn’t diminished crime in the big cities,” Cunningham and Miller said.

They said those who will be impacted most if new restrictions go forward in the future, are hunters and other law-abiding gun owners. It has strained Cunningham and Miller’s business along with those who attend their courses or have similar operations.

“We run marksmanship courses for both law-abiding gun owners and police/military. We are a centre of excellence for developing marksmanship skills. The OICs and the legislation are strangling our business. Not only are there fewer courses we’re able to offer to competitors, we are also at risk of being able to maintain a centre of excellence for police and military,” Cunningham and Miller said.