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Democracy sidestepped in ban on assault-style firearms, say Conservative MPs in B.C. Interior

One Conservative MP for B.C., told Global News “we have a lot of firearms groups and hunters that are legitimately questioning why certain guns are on there and why certain ones are not.”.
One Conservative MP for B.C., told Global News “we have a lot of firearms groups and hunters that are legitimately questioning why certain guns are on there and why certain ones are not.”. Megan Turcato / Global News

A B.C. online petition against Canada’s newest gun ban has gathered more than 25,000 signatures since its inception just three days ago.

The petition says the ban, introduced this month by the federal Liberals, will strip law-abiding Canadians of their legally-purchased property.

The petition, found here, also says the ban will not be effective in preventing crime, and is asking the federal government to repeal the Order in Council made on May 1.

READ MORE: ‘Enough is enough’: Feds unveil ban on 1,500 ‘assault-style’ firearms

On that day, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the ban, stating today’s teenagers “are growing up in a world where gun violence is normalized. It needs to stop.”

He then said, “we are closing the market for military-grade assault weapons in Canada. We are banning 1,500 models and variants of these firearms by way of regulations.”

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Trudeau continued, saying, “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.”

He then announced that, effective immediately, it was no longer legal to buy, sell, transport, import or use military-grade assault weapons, adding there will be a two-year amnesty period and that legislation will offer fair compensation.

Another online petition, this one based out of Alberta and featuring more than 150,000 signatures as of Saturday morning, can be found here.

Ottawa bans assault-style firearms
Ottawa bans assault-style firearms

Conservative politicians have railed against the ban, calling it unjust, including Dan Albas, the MP for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.

Albas’ argument against the ban isn’t about firearms; rather, it’s how the government is proceeding with the ban.

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“The government is utilizing terminology that is inaccurate,” said Albas. “It’s referring to military-style assault weapons — military weapons are not legal in Canada.

“And when you look at the list that they have produced of firearms that are affected by this order, there are hunting rifles that are commonly used.”

Assault-style firearms ban controversial in the Okanagan
Assault-style firearms ban controversial in the Okanagan

According to Albas, the federal Liberals have admitted that in their statements.

“We have a lot of firearms groups and hunters that are legitimately questioning why certain guns are on there and why certain ones are not,” said Albas.

“This isn’t about whether about someone supports firearms or not, being as there’s different views on that, this is more about how the government is proceeding. And it’s creating a lot of consternation because people don’t know which guns, and for what rationale, are being used.”

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READ MORE: COMMENTARY: Tories are lining up to condemn Trudeau’s assault weapon ban — and it’s a trap

The MP added this hot-topic issue should have been allowed parliamentary debate instead of being railroaded through by the Prime Minister.

“This didn’t go through a parliamentary process,” said Albas.

“Had it gone through a parliamentary process, we would have been able to bring in technical experts. We would have been able to hear both sides. We would have been able to point out which firearms were overlooked or which firearms were put on inadvertently.

“We would have been able to provide some accountability. And what I’m hearing most of all [from my constituents] is how do [opposition MPs] hold the government to account because this hasn’t gone through a parliamentary process?”
New federal ban on assault weapons gets mixed reviews in B.C.
New federal ban on assault weapons gets mixed reviews in B.C.

Earlier this week, the Conservative MP for North Okanagan-Shuswap, Mel Arnold, told Global News “they are side-stepping the democratic process. They did this through an order-in-council, ignoring the opportunity for parliamentarians to discuss the changes.”

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Global News reached out to other B.C. federal politicians, including Richard Cannings (NDP MP for South Okanagan-West Kootenay), Todd Doherty (Conservative, MP for Cariboo-Prince George), Tracy Gray (Conservative MP for Kelowna-Lake Country), Paul Manly (Green Party MP, Nanaimo-Ladysmith) and Nelly Shin (Conservative MP for Port Moody-Coquitlam).

Shortly after the ban was announced, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the “order by Ottawa does little to target criminals,” adding the money used to implement the ban would be better used “to pursue the smugglers and drug gangs that plague our society.”

READ MORE: New assault weapon ban does little to target criminals: Alberta premier

In an email, Doherty, who is sponsoring the petition, said “as an elected Member of Parliament who has the privilege of representing a large rural riding, it is my job to stand up and advocate for the interests of my constituents.”

“Cariboo-Prince George is home to countless law abiding and responsible firearms owners,” continued Doherty. “The Order in Council announced by Justin Trudeau last Friday arbitrarily reclassified over 1,500 firearms as restricted; and by definition, reclassified law abiding Canadians as criminals with stroke of a pen.

“This announcement once again demonstrates Justin Trudeau’s fundamental lack of respect and understanding of rural Canada.”

Technically, the Order in Council changed the wording from:

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“Regulations prescribing certain firearms and other weapons, components and parts of weapons, accessories, cartridge magazines, ammunition and projectiles as prohibited, restricted or non-restricted”

To:

“Regulations prescribing certain firearms and other weapons, components and parts of weapons, accessories, cartridge magazines, ammunition and projectiles as
prohibited or restricted.”

To view the list of firearms affected by the ban, click here and here.

A spokesperson for Green Party MP Manly said on Friday afternoon that he was unavailable for an interview at this time.

Gray, meanwhile, echoed her Conservative colleagues.

“The changes on May 1st to firearm rules made by the Liberal government by Order in Council means there was no input from experts at a committee, no debating, no opportunity for amendments by opposition parties, and no voting in the House of Commons,” she said via email.

“The change in rules affects law-abiding citizens and does nothing to stop illegal firearms. The government’s focus should be on illegal firearms getting in the hands of gangs and criminals, as well as putting more resources into anti-gang units, mental health, targeting rural crime, and combating illegal cross border firearm smuggling.”

NDP supports Liberals on military weapons ban, but ‘government should be clear’: Singh
NDP supports Liberals on military weapons ban, but ‘government should be clear’: Singh

— With files from Megan Turcato and Adam MacIvar.

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