Monday, October 25, 2010

BILL C-580: Fixing the gun registry, or fixing gun owners?

Courtesy of the Don’t tread on me blog and the CSSA
BILL C-580: Fixing the gun registry, or fixing gun owners?
Bill C-580 was tabled on October 8, 2010 as a private members bill by NDP M.P. Charlie Angus to address potential fixes to the long gun registry. Its stated purpose was to “respect the concerns of rural Canadians while enhancing public safety.” It does not accomplish either purpose.

Let’s examine the goals in detail, along with other aspects of C-580 that the NDP have chosen not to publicize.

Providing a first-time exemption from criminal penalty for not registering a long-gun:
C-580 provides this exemption for “first time offenders” only if charged under Section 112 of the Firearms Act, a little used section that can already result in a fine for the offense of possession of a non-restricted firearm without a registration certificate. The usual charge laid by police is a Section 91 offense under the Criminal Code. Bill C-580 does NOT address Section 91 offenses.

Mandating the Auditor General to provide financial oversight of the registry:
Auditor General Sheila Fraser stated to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security in May 2010 that she could not possibly conduct any financial audit for the next three years due to prior commitments. It is only a good idea if it is tied to a cost/benefit analysis. The Auditor General is not mandated to perform a cost/benefit analysis.

Protecting the privacy of gun owners’ identifying information:
C-580 permits any records of any individual to be released to any person, inside or outside Canada, “in the interests of public safety.” Bye, bye privacy. This maintains the shopping list for criminals.

Creating a legal guarantee to uphold Aboriginal treaty rights:
While C-580 states an offense under any of sections 90, 91, 93, 97, 101, 104 and 105 may have the effect of abrogating or derogating from any existing aboriginal or treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 may not be proceeded with, it places the onus upon the Defendant to prove his or her treaty rights were violated. This process will cost the Defendant tens of thousands of dollars to prove a violation. A decision favourable to the Defendant would almost certainly be appealed by the Crown. In net effect, there is little difference over what currently exists.

Establishing permanently free registration
Not quite. C-580 only eliminates the fees for Non-Restricted firearms. Owners of restricted and prohibited firearms will still be subject to an, as yet, undefined fee. This serves to create a two-tier system. Given the rest of the provisions in this bill one can assume this is deliberate. The fees for registering any firearm were eliminated in 2003 and registration has remained free since. These provisions in C-580 are a step backward, not forward. And remember, the Canadian taxpayer will end up stuck with the tab. Nothing is free.

Allowing military and police to share important information with the Canadian Firearms Program, including mental health concerns
This section should read “Requiring military and police…” It requires that Canadian military and police personnel must disclose whether they have ever served with the Canadian Forces or have ever served as a police officer. In doing so, all their service records become open to the Chief Firearms Officer without their consent. It is appalling that someone who has served Canada with honour should be subject to “criminal suspicion” because of their former occupation. This is precisely the issue that ordinary Canadians have bitterly complained about for so long. If, as C-580 implies, these individuals present a risk by virtue of their service to our country, perhaps we should be examining whether they should be given firearms in the first place? This section is offensive to those who serve and certainly does not indicate any “fix” of the long gun registry. On behalf of all gun owners, we are ashamed this made it to First Reading.

The following sections are not publicized in the NDP releases.

Ripping off widows and families
(2) Paragraph 112(2)(b) of the Act is replaced by the following:

(b) a person who comes into possession of a firearm by operation of law and who, within 90 days or such longer period as may be granted by a chief firearms officer under subsection (2.1), lawfully disposes of it or obtains a registration certificate for it; or

This is the section of the Firearm Act that pertains to firearms placed in the possession of an Executor for the purposes of lawful distribution under the Inheritance Act. Currently, the sentence states the person has a “reasonable time” to fulfill their obligations under the two Acts. This current wording is appropriate. Larger collections may be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and require months (or years) to sell at fair market prices. Bill C-580 removes that option from an executor of an estate, forcing very valuable firearms to be sold off at bargain basement prices within a 90-day period. Literally, this section rips off widows and families by forcing the sale of valuable estate property. This grossly unfair.

Bill C-580 does allow for the extension of the 90-day period by permitting a single 90-day extension. In order to obtain that extension however, the widow must go, hat in hand, to the Chief Firearms Officer and be granted permission to extend. Simply put, another basic right subject to an arbitrary decision made by an appointed bureaucrat.

Gun bans – fasten your seat belt!
4. Section 117.15 of the Act is amended by adding the following after subsection (2):

(3) The Governor in Council may make regulations requiring a manufacturer or importer to provide information for the purpose of establishing that the thing in question is reasonable for use in Canada for hunting or sporting purposes.

This section is a Canadianized version of the infamous British “Sporting use test” where all firearms are subject to bureaucratic interpretation as to what justifies a hunting or sporting firearm. This has been used to prohibit most of the firearms in Great Britain. It places enormous power in the hands of the bureaucracy to ban firearms. It is obvious that this is the intent of this section. Charlie Angus spoke of “closing the loopholes” in order to prohibit the popular Ruger Mini-14 Ranch Rifle, a common sporting and hunting firearm used by tens of thousands of Canadians. As the Mini-14 is no different than many other hunting rifles, this would be the start of wholesale confiscation.

It is very clear that this legislation does little or nothing to address the problems inherent with the long-gun registry of the Firearms Act. It is “smoke and mirrors” legislation which will certainly lead to further prohibitions of firearms, increased bureaucratic authority and more regulatory hoops firearms owners will have to jump through. Bill C-580 proves Canadian firearms owners cannot turn to the NDP party for relief from this oppressive legislation. Whether intentional or not, C-580 is proof positive: They just don’t get it.

The CSSA believes all responsible firearms owners should strive to ensure Bill C-580 never sees the light of day.


  1. this could make people very upset in the very near future. but then again politions always seemed to be braindead. how do we tell them to leave us alone and we have not hurt anyone. i hurt myself more often with my wrench and they are both tools. then again your susspose to have a license to run a chainsaw go figure ;}

  2. Don’t worry as soon as they dealt with the gunowners, they will be going after chainsaw users, you will be restricted to electric only and you can’t have a cord longer than 50’ Not to mention the trigger lock and storage requirements!

  3. I am not psychic, but I see a LOT of hidden, unregistered firearms in the future of a lot of Canadians. Myself included.
    If this bill isn't put to sleep like a mad dog, then we as Canadians should hang our heads in shame that we dropped the ball on it.

  4. I would say from what I see is at least 1 out of every 3 gunowners did not comply with the PAL requirement and I think the registry compliance is far less than that. If you have any registry horror stories make sure you post at;