+ RMA Rural Municipalities
of Alberta

Resolution 17-23S

Negative Impact of Bill C-21 on Albertans

February 23, 2023
Expiry Date:
March 1, 2026
Active Status:
MD of Greenview
4 - Northern
Sent to Government
Vote Results:

WHEREAS the House of Commons has completed two readings on proposed Bill C-21: An Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms); and

WHEREAS the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security is currently reviewing and proposing amendments to Bill C-21; and

WHEREAS the current process for firearm control and licensing requires completion of a firearms safety course, a provincial license, and background checks, is sufficient for managing and regulating firearms; and

WHEREAS Bill C-21 will amend the current licensing process by not allowing a registration certificate for a handgun to be issued to an individual; and

WHEREAS the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security proposes to amend Bill C-21 by banning certain additional firearms and ammunition; and

WHEREAS this amendment will adversely affect the quality of life of rural residents by limiting their access to firearms for hunting and recreational shooting activities ; and

WHEREAS Bill C-21 would require enhanced background checks for all gun owners, which could create additional hurdles for rural residents who may not have access to reliable internet or other forms of communication needed to complete these checks; and

WHEREAS Bill C-21 could limit access to firearms for recreational and subsistence hunting in rural areas, leading to reduced income for those who rely on hunting as a source of food or income; and

WHEREAS this amendment will make it more difficult for rural residents to participate in hunting and recreational shooting activities, which are important cultural and recreational activities in many rural communities; and

WHEREAS this amendment will place additional financial burdens on rural residents who must now travel further and/or incur additional expenses to purchase firearms;

Operative Clause:

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) advocate to the Government of Canada to not proceed with any amendment to the Firearms Act that will unfairly restrict access to recreational or hunting opportunities for rural Albertans; and

FURTHER IT BE RESOLVED that the RMA advocate to the Government of Canada to review the classification of what constitutes a “prohibited firearm” to ensure that it balances safety with the access to firearms for rural residents to enjoy recreational activities.

Member Background:

Canadian gun legislation is frequently amended. In 2012 Bill C-19: Ending the Long-gun Registry Act came into force. This Act removed the requirements to register non-restricted firearms and destroyed existing registration records. In 2015 Bill C-42: Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act received Royal Assent. This Act requires a firearms safety course for all first-time licence applicants and provides stronger Criminal Code provisions relating to prohibiting the possession of firearms when someone is convicted of an offence involving domestic violence. As well, it granted authority to the Governor in Council to deem firearms to be non-restricted or restricted. In 2019 Bill C-71: An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms received Royal Assent. Bill C-71 strengthened the federal firearms regulatory regime , and law enforcement was provided tools to better  solve firearms-related crimes. In 2020 the Government of Canada prohibited over 1,500 models of what the government claims to be assault-style firearmsand imposed a new maximum threshold for guns with a muzzle energy greater than 10,000 Joules and with a bore diameter 20mm or greater. On May 18, 2022, additional regulations for licence verification and business record-keeping for non-restricted firearms came into force.

Bill C-21: An Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms) is a House Government Bill, sponsored by the Minister of Public Safety and given first reading on May 30, 2022. The original iteration of the Bill made handguns illegal, save for exemptions that include individuals who hold an authorization to carry handguns and those who compete or coach in a handgun shooting discipline on the Olympic level. The amendments discussed in Amendment G-46 by the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security go beyond the scope of the Bill and attempt to introduce legislation that will effectively make it illegal to use firearms  for hunting.

Residents of the Province of Alberta, and particularly those who reside in rural areas, are disproportionately opposed to laws that limit the ability of indivudals to hunt recreationally and for their livelihood. The Government of Canada aims to interfere with firearm collecting, airsoft sports, target shooting and hunting, all of which are pastimes that enrich the lives of rural Albertans. The proposed amendments to Bill C-21 places the onus of gun violence in Canada on highly trained, responsible and lawful gun owners when the Government of Canada needs to invest in a comprehensive strategy to address criminal behaviours resulting from a lack of mental health and socioeconomic support. A 2021 firearms and violent crime in Canada report by Statistics Canada claimed that “physical assault, robbery, and the firearm-specific Criminal Code violations of discharging a firearm with intent, pointing a firearm, or using a firearm in the commission of an offence accounted for 80% of all firearm-related violent crime in 2021”. Meaning that, the unlawful use of firearms commonly accompanies other illegal acts. This data reinforces the point that this Bill should be addressing those that use firearms to enact violent crimes, rather than impacting the lawful acts of hunting and sport shooting.

RMA does not currently have any advocacy efforts for the opposition of Bill C-21. The association has previously endorsed resolution 12-01S “Firearm Restrictions” in 2001, as well as resolutions 6-02S “Firearms” and 23-02F “Right to Own and Use Firearms” in 2002. All three oppose additional restriction of firearms through legislation implemented by the Government of Canada.

RMA Background:

RMA currently has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.

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