Gordon Zealand | Special to the News
The Yukon Fish and Game Association are opposed to Bill C-71.
In our opinion the bill targets lawful gun owners with additional red tape and regulations that do not address the issues of gun violence and gang crime cited by the Liberal government as a justification for this bill. We do not have a justice system. We have a legal system protected by the constitution.
Somehow we need to ensure the RCMP and other authorities are provided the funding and ability to target the criminals. We support more effective ways of fighting criminals who use guns completely outside of any legal framework.
The main points of the bill will do the following:
Background checks: Instead of looking back five years into your mental/criminal history you can now be evaluated on data from your entire lifetime.
Licence verification: Businesses and individuals will be required to call in and verify a person’s licence each time they want to sell a firearm. This includes non-restricted firearms. We’ll need to get a transfer number before we can sell a firearm and will have to provide a serial number, make, model, etc. This will add extra hassle without adding to public safety and will unnecessarily complicate sales between people who are already licensed to possess firearms. We don’t know how this will be managed. Our fear is that we will only be able to transfer during regular business hours and in addition may cause an undue delay in allowing a transfer. This bill does not establish any timeframes for the reference number to be provided.
Legislated record keeping for 20 years: Gun retailers will have to keep records for 20 years on all gun sales. Most retailers already do this. In our mind this creates a legislated back-door gun registry and puts the burden on private retailers.
Changes to the authorization to transport (ATTS): Currently restricted firearm owners can transport guns to gunsmiths, gun ranges, gun shows, border crossings, and to or from a gun store for appraisal or sale.
The new bill gets rid of everything but an approved range. Now we will have to call in each time we want to take our restricted firearms to a gun show, a gunsmith for work or to a border crossing for competition. These changes, combined with the licence verification changes mentioned above, will negatively affect gun shows and competitions.
Moves certain firearms from non-restricted to prohibited: They are moving some semi-automatic non-restricted firearms to the prohibited class, including the Swiss Arms Classic and the CZ-858 rifles. This will turn these rifles into paperweights and eventually will have to be surrendered once the license holder passes on or lets their licence expire.
We personally enjoy target shooting, competing and hunting with semi-automatic firearms and would be very unhappy if this was no longer a possibility.
Removes ability of government to oversee the RCMP in their classification of firearms: If or when the RCMP make a mistake on a classification the government will no longer have any power to reverse the classification.
We’re not sure why less oversight is better. Everyone makes mistakes, including the RCMP, and the general fear among firearms owners is that the RCMP will do what they can to reclassify certain firearms into a more prohibitive classification without any recourse.
Transfers old long gun registry data to Quebec: This was ordered deleted by the Supreme Court so it seems odd they still have a copy.
Consultation: At no point did the government or our MP consult our organization on proposed changes.
Gordon Zealand is the executive director of the Yukon Fish and Game Association.