Senate passes contentious handgun ban Bill C-21 without amendments
Senate passes contentious handgun ban Bill C-21 without amendments

The Liberals’ controversial Bill C-21, which cements a handgun ban and expands authority to seize firearms from licensed gun owners believed to pose a risk to others, passed in the Senate on Thursday without changes and is now set to become law.

The gun control legislation was introduced by the Trudeau government and passed the House of Commons in May. It solidifies the Liberals’ previous Canada-wide “freeze” on the purchase, sale or transfer of handguns. 

The bill was heavily debated in the House for some time before a version of it made it to the Senate, which had been dramatically expanded from what the Trudeau government had initially tabled the year before. 

Bill C-21 includes plans to make stricter gun laws to include “red flag” and “yellow flag” provisions about gun owners who may pose a risk to themselves or others. 

Other changes that will affect gun owners under the new legislation will be a prospective Criminal Code “technical definition” of what constitutes a prohibited assault-style firearm so that a permanent ban on future models will be cemented into law once the bill comes into effect. 

A series of other provisions are included to make the purchase of ghost guns illegal as well to reduce gun smuggling.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre argued that the legislation goes after law-abiding gun owners, while then-public safety minister Marc Mendicino said the Liberals were prepared to go further “than any government in the history of this country” in pursuit of gun control.

Firearms advocates say they are “deeply disappointed” by the bill.

“The most egregious part of this deeply flawed bill is the position police will be put in upon the death of every legal handgun owner. Imagine attending the homes of grieving widows and children to confiscate and destroy property that meant a lot to the people who owned them, and who’ve done nothing to warrant this,” said a statement from the Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights. “If only this much effort and vigor was applied to the misuse of illicit guns by violent, repeat offenders.” 

The CCFR said the Liberals are focused on the “wrong target.”

After the bill passed to the Senate, many gun rights advocates wondered if amendments would be made to the legislation prior to it being potentially passed. 

It remained in the Senate for six months to be analyzed by the Senate National Security, Defence and Veterans Affairs Committee, which heard from 66 witnesses.

However, ultimately, it passed without a single amendment.  

Some senators did submit several observations regarding the bill, like how the government should address concerns around implementing a nationwide database to collect data on all gun-related injuries and death, as well as having further consultations with sport shooters.

Conservative senators said that the reason that no amendments could be made to Bill C-21 was because of pushback from the “government majority,” noting that it will be incumbent upon a future government to correct the “serious errors” that are contained within such an “extremely divisive bill.”

“Today really is a historic day,” reads a statement from members of the Coalition for Gun Control in response to the legislation being granted royal assent “unscathed,” according to CTV News

“The game-changing bill reflects more than thirty years of advocacy… to make Canadians safer from gun violence. The legislation responds to the concerns of experts, community groups and Canadians from coast to coast, and proposes measured but effective solutions,” it continued.

The legislation is expected to receive royal assent on Friday, prior to the holiday break for the House of Commons and the Senate.

Bill C-21 passed by a vote of 60 to 24.

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