Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Yellowhead.
This is a real opportunity to speak against Bill C-21. The premise of my whole talk today will be that Bill C-21 would actually make Canadians less safe, as it spends sparse resources in ways that are ineffective and targets law-abiding firearms owners instead of the real problem, which is gangs and guns in our inner cities.
In 2018, Public Safety Canada put forward a paper, “Reducing Violent Crime: A Dialogue on Handguns and Assault Weapons - Engagement Paper”. It starts off by explaining what I am trying to explain today:
The vast majority of owners of handguns and of other firearms in Canada lawfully abide by requirements, and most gun crimes are not committed with legally-owned firearms.
It goes on:
Recent estimates indicate that there are about 900,000 handguns registered to individuals in Canada. In most cases, individuals own handguns either in the context of sport shooting activities or because those handguns form a part of a collection.
Later it states:
Any ban of handguns or assault weapons would primarily affect legal firearms owners....
It is not just Conservatives who are saying this; the former public safety minister himself actually said that he knows that handgun bans would not work. In a 2019 interview with The Globe and Mail, he said that months of consultation have led him to the conclusion that banning handguns would be costly and ineffective. Again, that is from the Liberal former public safety minister across the way:
I believe that would be potentially a very expensive proposition but just as importantly, it would not in my opinion be perhaps the most effective measure in restricting the access that criminals would have to such weapons, because we'd still have a problem with them being smuggled across the border.
I could not agree more. That is why I find it strange that the government has not imposed a handgun ban previously and has admitted that it is going to be ineffective and very expensive. Again, the premise is very expensive, and I do not even necessarily want to speak to that, because how can we quantify the life of one of our children? We cannot. They are priceless. Instead, let us actually deal with the problem in a way that would actually save lives on our streets instead of prolonging the problem.
This is a quote from a police officer. Staff Superintendent Sean McKenna of Peel Regional Police recently tweeted:
Another illegally owned firearm seized by Peel Police. This is becoming a far too common occurrence in our community. A municipal, provincial or federal ban on firearms will not stop criminals from carrying them. Root cause issues need to be addressed.
Exactly. Here is somebody who sees the problems on the streets daily and knows where the real problem lies.
Another police officer, Ron Chhinzer, tweeted, “In my time in the integrated gun and gang task force, I don't recall ever seizing a legally owned firearm from any of the investigations that I was involved in.
“The law-abiding population should never suffer or pay because of the unlawful criminal.”
Again, here is someone who is actually on the streets, seeing this first-hand. What I am going to talk about later is how we should give those police officers better resources to deal with the root problems, like recidivism. Criminals get to walk free and commit crimes all over again. We are also not dealing with some of the root causes that cause violence in the first place.
Here is another quote from another police officer, Steve Ryan, who tweeted, “I investigated 150 homicides—never seized one legally owned gun as a murder weapon. In my opinion, it makes more sense to ban legally owned kitchen knives and scissors! Those I have seized as murder weapons. Banning legally owned guns won't decrease violence. Root cause will!”
There is a consistent message coming from our police officers today: The focus should be on the problem instead of on the diversion, the law-abiding firearms community.
Chris Lewis, a former OPP commissioner who works for CTV, is a crime specialist who has been a very vocal opponent of wasting resources on gun bans. Here is a quote from Mr. Lewis: “They aren’t legally owned handguns, nor are they shotguns and hunting rifles. Taking more guns from lawful owners and putting a toothless municipal handgun ban in place will do the square root of sweet”...nothing, I will say, because he uses another word, “to impact violent crime.”
There it is. Even the former commissioner is saying the same thing.
I will go on. I have a few more quotes, and then we will get into more discussion. I am sure there will be questions.
The deputy chief of the Toronto Police Service, Myron Demkiw, stated, “The City of Toronto's experience is that guns are not from law-abiding citizens that are being used in crime. They're guns being smuggled from the United States. Those engaged in handling those firearms are not law-abiding, licensed gun owners; they are criminals with no firearms licence.”
I am a firearms owner. I have my RPAL. I know that it is a very rigorous process to purchase a firearm in Canada, whether it is a non-restricted firearm or restricted. It is very difficult. There is training that is involved and there is a vetting process that is involved, and every day they look at our records to make sure that we can still legally and safely own our firearms.
I will go on to a quote from somebody who is very important. This was part of the recent public safety study. It is from Marcell Wilson. He is the founder and president of the One By One Movement, an organization founded by former gang members, extremists and organized crime members to help identify, address and research strategies on effective social programming for youth outreach.
...when speaking on gun control, when we hear the phrase, it should always be synonymous with illegal gun crime and illegal gun trafficking as over 80% of the gun violence we [witness is] committed with illegal firearms smuggled in from the USA.
It has not just been me. I always like to quote other individuals with expertise a lot of better than my own, such as actual police officers on the streets. This is from Marcell Wilson, former gang member, who is really trying to fix the root problem of the issue of kids dying on our streets as the result of illegal firearms.
I think that as Conservatives, this is where we take quite a different position from the Liberals across the way. We Conservatives actually support dealing with the real problem. We saw a Liberal long-gun registry that cost $2 billion the last time. We have another bill, Bill C-21, that is part of resurrecting another long-gun registry and a confiscation regime too. It is going to be in the billions.
My argument is always to just take even a fraction of that money and put it into places where it is going to be effective, such as giving border agents better resources to inspect containers as they cross the border. I do not even want to say the percentage of the containers that are actually inspected, but how about we triple that, or even increase it times 10 to an exponential number of inspections to actually deal with these firearms and stop them right at the border? How about we give inner city police the tools to crack down on illegal firearms and gang activity? How about we give resources to help these police officers deal with these young gang members and try to get them out of those gangs and into productive lives?
We support stopping the revolving door. We even saw recently, with Bill C-5, that the Liberals want to let people who are convicted of firearm crimes out the door sooner than they should be, just to recommit those crimes. Why do we not deal with all of those situations? That will actually cause a real effect, a real, positive change in safety in our inner cities and on our streets.
At the end of the day, I started off by saying that the bill actually makes our country less safe. What the Prime Minister is touting is a bait and switch. Just because he is talking about guns and getting rid of them does not mean he is talking about the right guns to get rid of. He needs to get rid of the illegal firearms on our streets. Once he starts tackling that and stops misleading Canadians about what really will make a change, my hope is that he will finally realize what that is, but I think he uses this issue to divide Canadians. I would rather see us tackle the real problem with illegal firearms on our streets.