From the Hill

Dan Albas is the Conservative member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola

This week I will focus on the recently announced semi-automatic rifle ban from the prime minister.

Aside from strong personal opinions, I have also been hearing some confusion and misunderstanding that I will attempt to clarify.

From a misunderstanding perspective, many citizens have correctly pointed out that military assault rifles in Canada have long been illegal.

It has been suggested by many the Liberal government is intentionally attempting to mischaracterize certain semi-automatic rifles, selected for this ban, as being “military grade” or “assault style” and using other terms that have no legal definition in Canada.

This is true many of the terms used to describe the rifles chosen for this ban do not exist within the Canada Firearms Act.

Another point of confusion has been the claim the government has been 1,500 types of ‘assault-style’ firearms.

There are essentially 11 different types of semi-automatic rifles that have been selected for this ban.

Because these 11 types of rifles are manufactured by several different manufacturers, and in multiple different configurations, there are potentially 1,500 different variations of these core 11 rifle designs.

As for why these 11 rifle designs were selected, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has stated: “These weapons were designed for one purpose and one purpose only: to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time. There is no use and no place for such weapons in Canada.”

CBC also reported the PM has “acknowledged that most firearms owners are law-abiding citizens (and) he said hunters don’t need this sort of firepower.”

The semi-automatic rifle ban is not being done through a bill nor being debated and voted on in Parliament.

Instead the PM has decided to carry out this ban through an order in council.

Having now read this particular order, buried at the bottom is this sentence:

“Recognizing that some Indigenous and sustenance hunters could be using previously non-restricted firearms for their hunting and may be unable to replace these firearms immediately, the Amnesty Order includes provisions for the limited use of these firearms for such purposes.”

This statement clearly acknowledges that these rifles are used for hunting and provides an amnesty to allow Aboriginal hunters to continue to use them accordingly.

The government has yet to explain this contradiction.

The rifle ban also proposes a “buy-back” plan where owners of these restricted rifles will, at some point be able to receive financial compensation for “selling” these rifles to the government at a currently unknown rate. There is also a two-year amnesty for owners of these restricted rifles, while the government determines how the buy-back will work.

This issue should come before Parliament where it can be studied at committee stage. Committee stage review is a critically important part of a bill’s progress, where experts and other affected groups can provide evidence on the proposed piece of legislation.

Ultimately, evidence can lead to amendments and that is how legislation can be improved.

It also allows democratically elected MPs the opportunity to vote on such a bill, so citizens can hold us to account.

This order in council allows none of these things to occur and that is not how our Parliament should deal with this topic.

Dan Albas is a Conservative member of Parliament representing Central Okanagan Similkameen Nicola,