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Bob Zimmer, MP for Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies, introduced Private Members Bill C-346 on April 6, 2017, to help protect firearm owners from SWAT team raids should their firearm license expire.
The first case that popped into my mind was Alberta's John Rew. Instead of the RCMP calling Mr. Rew to remind him to renew his firearms license they sent three SWAT teams from two different jurisdictions to assault his home instead. The flashbang sent through his bedroom window almost burned his house down. All because his firearms license expired.
“This is something that is important to me and to many of my constituents and I’m very proud to be able to take this crucial step forward on this issue,” said Mr. Zimmer. “The purpose of this Bill is, ultimately, to make sure that no law-abiding firearms owner can be criminalized for an expired firearms licence.”
This is a rational and reasonable goal. Why waste police resources and send in SWAT teams to take down unsuspecting gun owners just because a piece of paper has the wrong date on it. It's ridiculous but, unfortunately, it is also a reality across Canada. I applaud Mr. Zimmer for his attempt to solve this ongoing problem.
Naysayers will, of course, say you should just renew your license on time.
Sure. Absolutely. I agree.
However, have you ever forgotten to renew your driver's license on time? I have. The kind female RCMP constable smiled at me, suggested I turn around and go to the insurance office down the street and return within the hour and she would rip up the ticket. I did and she did and we both went our merry ways. She even wished me Happy Birthday.
Try that with an expired firearms license. There will be no polite discourse between you and the police. If you are permitted to speak at all it will be after a SWAT team raids your home, arrests you at gunpoint and hauls you away to jail. They will also search your home and confiscate everything you own that is remotely firearm-related.
All because, by the letter of the law, the second your firearm license expires you are a criminal, no different than the drug dealers and gang thugs shooting up our major cities. Police treat us exactly the same.
If that sounds far-fetched, if I didn't own guns I'd probably think the same thing. It can't happen. Unfortunately I've been involved with far too many gun owners in exactly that predicament.
There are many points to this issue that non-firearm owners do not understand.
First, it is a crime to own or possess a firearm in Canada. That crime comes with serious criminal sanctions, including lengthy prison terms. The legal defense for committing the crime of owning or possessing a firearm in Canada is called a Possession and Acquisition License. Without a valid license you will go to prison. Yes, even if your guns are locked up in your gun safe just like the law demands but your license expired yesterday.
Second, licensed gun owners are the most-scrutinized segment of Canadian society, bar none. Through Access to Information requests filed by ex-RCMP member Dennis Young, we know every licensed firearm owner is background-checked DAILY through CPIC. Daily. If they bothered with violent criminals and sex offenders as well, I probably wouldn't have much to say about it, but since they do not track violent criminals or sex offenders AT ALL, I'm understandably upset by this practice.
Third, the RCMP and the Chief Firearms Officers of every province are determined to interpret every firearm law and regulation in the most harmful way for firearm owners. This is a long-standing tradition that only intensified after they lost the long gun registry.
Bob Zimmer's Bill C-346 is a reasonable, rational attempt to stop this from happening. Gun owners across the country ought to support it. There are a couple of really easy ways to do this.
First, write Bob Zimmer and thank him for introducing this bill. Let him know you support him in this effort. Trust me, he'll appreciate that A LOT.
Second, write your own MP, regardless of political stripe, and politely insist they support Bill C-346 when it comes up for a vote.
Third, write to Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and politely ask him to support Bill C-346. As an alternative, ask him to include Bob Zimmer's proposed changes into his upcoming bill on the Firearms Act.
Fourth, write Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and politely request he support Bill C-346 when it comes up for a vote.
Fifth, if you are in any of the following ridings, your MP won the last election by 5% or less of the vote in your riding. There is a reason The Hill Times said rural Liberal MPs are nervous in advance of Minister Goodale's upcoming changes to Canada's gun laws. Write and call these MPs and express your willingness to ensure they do not get re-elected should the decide against supporting Bob Zimmer's Bill C-346.
- Liberal MP Alaina Lockhart, St. John’s East
- Liberal MP Alaina Lockhart, Fundy Royal
- Liberal MP Matthew Dubé, Beloeil-Chambly
- Liberal MP Denis Lemieux, Chicoutimi-LeFjord
- Liberal MP David Graham, Laurentides-Labelle
- Liberal MP Jean Rioux, Saint-Jean
- Liberal MP Bryan May, Cambridge
- Liberal MP Mike Bossio, Hastings-Lennonx and Addington
- Liberal MP Bob Nault, Kenora
- Liberal MP Deb Schulte, King-Vaughan
- Liberal MP Marc Serré, Nickel Belt
- Liberal MP Kim Rudd, Northumberland-Peterborough South
- Liberal MP Jati Sidhu, Mission–Matsqui-Fraser Canyon
- Liberal MP Dan Ruimy, Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge
- Liberal MP MaryAnn Mihychuk, Kildonan-St. Paul