Weiler defends firearms bans

West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country MP Patrick Weiler says the guns covered under a recent addition to the prohibited list are weapons that “do not have a place in society.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the government would ban 1,500 models of firearms on May 1, two weeks after 22 people were killed in Nova Scotia. The ban covers models of gun the government describes as military-style firearms and assault weapons, making it illegal to sell, use, import and transport those guns.

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“The heartbreaking truth is [mass shootings] are happening more often than it once was… It needs to stop,” Trudeau said while recognizing some Canadians use firearms as part of their livelihoods or lifestyles for hunting.

“You don’t need an AR-15 to bring down a deer,” he said.

Two petitions launched through the House of Commons E-petition system shortly after Trudeau’s announcement claim that many of the 1,500 firearms covered by the order-in-council are, in fact, legitimate hunting and sport-shooting guns and the list is “arbitrary and not based on functionality.”

One of the petitions also points out that, under current Canadian law, an order-in-council cannot be used to prohibit firearms if they are “reasonable for use in Canada for hunting or sporting purposes.

The two petitions had topped a combined 255,000 signatures as of May 20, about 47,500 of them from British Columbia residents.

Weiler was questioned about the bans during one of his regular conference calls with the Sunshine Coast business community to update them on the government’s COVID-19 strategy.

The question was framed as being “on behalf of all of the licensed firearm owners in your region.”

“Why is the government considering enacting even more regulations to be the solution to a problem that could be better solved by simply providing the resources and assets that experts are asking for and adequately funding the judiciary and providing much needed social supports?” asked Sechelt Chamber of Commerce member Jesse Waldorf. “This enactment will only serve to disenfranchise gun owners like myself, increase partisanship in our nation and consume taxpayer dollars that are better spent elsewhere.”

Weiler responded: “This isn’t restricting gun ownership writ large. This is simply restricting ownership of guns that are only made to kill people as fast as possible.” 

Weiler also defended the description of the newly prohibited firearms as military-style assault weapons.

In a later interview for Eastlink Community TV’s Parliamentary Talkback program, Weiler said orders-in-council have been used to add and remove firearms from the restricted and prohibited lists since the 1990s.

He also said the government is still working on measures to stop illegal guns from coming into the country, more resources for law enforcement to deal with organized crime, and other initiatives that will be brought before Parliament.

“This is just the first step – there will be other measures to support this, to look at areas like the buyback program,” Weiler said. “We’re also looking at areas like the challenges that having handguns in cities pose. We’re going to be bringing in further measures, related to that, that has to be brought in through new legislation.”

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