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Liberal Gun Control bill Passes Senate

On Thursday, the Senate approved Bill C-21, the contentious gun control legislation proposed by the federal Liberal government, without making any changes. This development paves the way for the bill to become law.

Following months of division and political discord, the bill had previously passed the House of Commons in May. The version that reached the Senate was considerably expanded compared to the government’s initial proposal from a year earlier.

Bill C-21 secured passage in the Senate with a vote of 60 to 24, and it was met with applause in the upper chamber.

The legislation includes measures to:

  •  Tighten gun laws to include “red flag” and “yellow flag” provisions related to a gun owner posing a risk to themselves or others;
  •  Impose a “freeze” on the sale, purchase or transfer of handguns in Canada;
  •  A prospective Criminal Code “technical definition” of what constitutes a prohibited assault-style firearm, meant to “cement in law” a permanent ban on future models once the bill comes into force;
  •  A series of provisions meant to make it illegal to make or buy ghost guns and to combat firearms smuggling; and
  •  Wording making clear the government’s intent to uphold Indigenous treaty rights.

Additionally, the bill includes a provision mandating a parliamentary review of the technical definition five years after its enactment, alongside other related measures that will be implemented through regulations.

Former Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino had defended Bill C-21, emphasizing the Liberal government’s commitment to achieving more extensive gun control measures than any previous government in the country’s history. In contrast, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre contended that the legislation unfairly targeted law-abiding gun owners.

As the bill progressed to the Senate, there was anticipation about potential amendments to the legislation. After six months of deliberation, including twelve days of examination by the Senate National Security, Defence, and Veterans Affairs Committee, which heard from 66 witnesses, Bill C-21 ultimately passed the Senate without any changes.

However, senators did offer several observations regarding the bill, suggesting that the government should consider additional policy measures. These suggestions included the establishment of a nationwide database and data collection process for all gun-related injuries and deaths, as well as further consultation with sport shooters.

Conservative senators attributed the inability to amend Bill C-21 to resistance from the government majority and asserted that future governments would need to rectify the perceived serious flaws within the highly divisive bill.

The Coalition for Gun Control celebrated the bill’s passage, describing it as a significant victory for public safety following a challenging and protracted parliamentary process.

PolySeSouvient, in a statement, acknowledged the importance of the Liberal-led gun control measures becoming law but emphasized that the battle was not over, as much of the bill’s impact would depend on accompanying regulations.

Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc expressed gratitude to Sen. Hassan Yussuff for guiding the bill through the Senate and announced that it would now be presented to Gov. Gen. Mary Simon for final approval.

The bill is expected to receive royal assent on Friday, ahead of an extended holiday recess for the House of Commons and Senate.

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