The Liberal government has withdrawn two controversial amendments to its gun control Bill C-21 during a meeting of the Commons committee on public safety on Feb. 3, after backlash from all opposition parties and various sectors of civil society.
The two amendments being withdrawn had been tabled in late November with no consultations and pertained to establishing an evergreen definition of what the government considers to be an “assault-style” rifle, as well as adding hundreds of rifles used for hunting to the prohibited list.
NDP MP Alistair MacGregor thanked the Liberal MPs on committee and said the amendments had “derailed” any progress that could have been made on the bill.
“And I’ve never seen such a groundswell of opposition come really from everywhere all at once,” he said.
He added with this development MPs could go back to a “constructive dialogue” and raised the issue of ghost guns that were covered in one of the amendments and need to be addressed some other way.
“I hope Canadians are heartened listening to the conversations around this table where all four parties are agreeing to work together and cooperate and actually listen and hear each other,” said Liberal MP Pam Damoff.
The Liberals are seeking to ban what they consider weapons designed for the battlefield, and have already partly done so through regulation adopted in 2020 leading to the ban of 1,500 firearms model.
Damoff showed some openness to listen to concerns from the gun lobby about the issue.
“Even the gun lobby has made comments about what is the definition of a military style assault weapon. I’d like to hear from people with suggestions on that, is there a way forward to make sure that we’re getting this right?” she said.
Rifles designed for the rigours of war and which can fire in fully automatic mode are already not available on the open market.
Liberal MP Taleeb Noormohamed also expressed a desire to work cooperatively with other parties going forward.
He said whatever the outcome, he hopes through the process people will have felt their “voices were heard and well represented in these conversations.”
Conservative MP Glen Motz welcomed Noormohamed’s words, but made a remark about why he thought they had gotten to this place.
“It’s because the Liberals did exactly the opposite. They failed to respect people’s rights, they failed to consult indigenous people, they failed to consult with farmers and hunters,” he said.
The public safety committee will now continue its work on examining Bill C-21 and members spent the rest of the meeting debating the future format.
Bill C-21 seeks to enshrine into law the current regulatory freeze on the transfer of handguns by limiting the ability to transfer to businesses and exempted individuals.
It also seeks to remove an individual’s possession and acquisition licence if he engages in an act of domestic violence.
Other provisions include increasing from 10 to 14 years the maximum penalty of imprisonment for some indictable weapons offences.