Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, claims Bill 4, the Firearm Violence Prevention Act, will miraculously stop criminals who routinely ignore the Criminal Code of Canada.
I think he’s drunk too much of his own KoolAid.
“Gang members will have fewer options to buy, transport or possess real and imitation firearms under new legislation devised to make British Columbia’s streets safer,” the BC Government press release cries.
“We are putting expert advice into practice to reduce shootings related to gangs and the drug trade. These new measures targeting illegal and imitation firearms will give police additional tools and help make our communities safer,” Farnworth claims.
I’ll give him credit for a virtue-laden press release, but beyond that, all Farnworth accomplishes with Bill 4 is to make existing crimes ‘even more illegal’ tomorrow than they already are today.
The press release cites the following ‘benefits’ below which I add the existing law that already covers the so-called ‘benefit’.
- penalize drivers who transport illegal firearms;
Criminal Code Section 94 (1) Subject to subsections (3) and (4), every person commits an offence who is an occupant of a motor vehicle in which the person knows there is a prohibited firearm, a restricted firearm, a non-restricted firearm, a prohibited weapon, a restricted weapon, a prohibited device, other than a replica firearm, or any prohibited ammunition…
The maximum penalty under S. 94 (1) is already ten years in prison. Will tacking on another 18 months of provincial time really dissuade anyone bent on a life of crime?
I doubt it.
- authorize the impoundment of vehicles used to transport illegal firearms or flee police;
This builds on Section 251 of the BC Motor Vehicle Act, which allows police to impound your vehicle for impaired driving, driving without a license or while suspended, excessive speeding and street racing.
When an offender potentially facing 10 years in federal prison for the illegal firearm, are criminals really going to worry that their vehicle will be impounded?
Again, I doubt it.
- prohibit people from having real or imitation firearms in specific locations, like schools and hospitals, where they have no legitimate purpose. These restrictions will complement existing laws concerning firearm possession, use, handling and storage;
The Firearms Act and Criminal Code already cover firearm possession, use, handling and storage. See the Storage, Display, Transportation and Handling of Firearms by Individuals Regulations.
The federal government already announced its intention to ban imitation/replica firearms via Bill C-21’s update to Section 84 of the Criminal Code. Duplicating an anticipated Criminal Code provision with a provincial one seems redundant.
- stop the sale of imitation and low-velocity guns to youth and make it illegal for youth to fire or display these weapons anywhere a provincial, federal, First Nations or municipal law prohibits discharging firearms;
Bill 4, Section 9, prohibits for an adult or youth from possessing a low-velocity firearm or imitation firearm if they are already subject to federal firearms prohibition order, which is a crime under Criminal Code Section 117.01(1):
Subject to subsection (4), every person commits an offence who possesses a firearm, a cross-bow, a prohibited weapon, a restricted weapon, a prohibited device, any ammunition, any prohibited ammunition or an explosive substance while the person is prohibited from doing so by any order made under this Act or any other Act of Parliament.
Bill 4, Section 11, prohibits anyone from selling, renting or supplying a minor with a low-velocity firearm or imitation firearm or ammunition for it with an exception (See Section 12) for anyone who is fooled by ‘credible false identification or false federal licence.’
I can’t make this stuff up. Seriously.
- curtail gang members’ use of shooting ranges and strengthen user-related record keeping;
Bill 4 seeks to add additional layers of record-keeping to federally-approved shooting ranges because Minister Farnworth apparently believes the existing mandatory range record requirements – see below – aren’t adequate.
Section 6 of the Shooting Clubs and Shooting Ranges Regulations (SOR/98-212) states:
6 No person may use a restricted firearm or prohibited handgun at a shooting range unless the person is
(a) a member or an officer of an approved shooting club;
(b) a guest of a person referred to in paragraph (a); or
(c) an individual who ordinarily resides outside of Canada who is either a member of a recognized shooting organization or a guest described in paragraph (b).
Section 14 of the Shooting Clubs and Shooting Ranges Regulations states:
14 (1) The operator of an approved shooting club shall keep records, with respect to the following users of restricted firearms or prohibited firearms, that include
(a) with respect to a member or officer of the club
(i) his or her name, address and phone number,
(ii) his or her membership card number, and
(iii) the number of his or her licence to possess firearms or, if one does not exist, his or her date of birth; and
(b) with respect to a guest of a member or officer of the club
(i) the information required in subparagraph (a)(i), and
(ii) the number of his or her licence to possess firearms, if one exists.
(2) Every record made under subsection (1) must be maintained for at least six years.
(3) At the chief firearms officer’s request, the operator of the approved shooting club shall submit to the chief firearms officer a report containing all or any requested part of the information described in subsection (1).
It should come as no surprise the RCMP is totally on board with making criminal acts ‘more illegal’ than they already are.
“These recommendations targeting illegal and imitation firearms will provide police with the necessary tools to advance investigations and combat gun violence in our communities,” said Dwayne McDonald, assistant commissioner, BC RCMP Criminal Operations – Federal, Investigative Services and Organized Crime.
“Denying criminals access to these weapons, as well as further regulating armoured vehicles, body armour and aftermarket compartments, are key steps in enhancing public safety.”
Because BC’s Body Armour Control Act does not already make it a crime to possess body armour without a license, nor does the Armoured Vehicle and After-Market Compartment Control Act strictly regulate these vehicles.
Shiny New Laws like Farnworth’s ridiculous Bill 4 gives politicians the two things that enforcing existing laws can never provide:
- A Shiny New Press Release
- A Press Conference where the Minister can assure us he is ‘doing something‘ that will ‘keep us safe‘
In this wildly nonsensical COVID Fear era, those two mantras and the press opportunities they provide are everything.