Liberals, Tories spar over scope of proposed assault-style firearms definition
OTTAWA — The Liberals say their proposed definition of a prohibited assault firearm only applies to guns that belong on the battlefield.
But Conservative MPs on Thursday insisted the federal move would ban large numbers of regular shotguns and shotguns.
The Liberal government wants to include an evergreen definition of an assault-style prohibited firearm in gun control legislation being studied by the House of Commons’ public safety committee.
The measure, introduced Tuesday during the bill’s clause-by-clause review, would build on a May 2020 legal ban of more than 1,500 models and variants of what the government considers assault-style firearms, such as the AR-15 and the Ruger Mini. -14.
Among other technical specifications, the proposed definition includes a center-fire semi-automatic rifle or shotgun designed to accept a detachable magazine that can hold more than five rounds.
Speaking at a committee meeting Thursday, Liberal MP Pam Damoff said the Penal Code definition would codify the types of firearms banned in 2020, and provide a “clear definition of the specifications of these weapons designed for war. “
“I just want to make it clear that we’re not going after fighters,” Damoff said. “We are trying to remove weapons designed for the battlefield from our society.”
She said the amendment would prevent gun manufacturers from modifying designs of banned firearms to make them available again in Canada. “Codification and clear definitions in the Penal Code will ensure that manufacturers cannot attempt to trick the system into continuing to sell weapons that would be banned under any other name.”
Conservative MP Glen Motz said the definition would effectively ban hundreds of thousands of firearms, many of them non-restricted firearms.
“I think it was a deliberate attempt to mislead the Canadian public and parliament,” he said.
Conservative public safety critic Raquel Dancho said the proposed definition casts a very wide net — the “most significant shotgun ban in Canadian history.”
“If the Liberals had any integrity they would have put this in the original bill, it could have been discussed in the House,” she said.
“But of course they didn’t.” During the hearing, the Liberals released an updated list of about 300 pages of the various models and variants of firearms that would now be banned.
In response, the provincial ministers of Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan issued a joint statement denouncing the move from Ottawa.
The federal effort to define an assault-style firearm responds to pleas from advocates for stricter gun laws who wanted such wording included in the law.
Gun control group PolySeSouvient called the proposed change “another critical step toward a comprehensive and permanent ban on assault weapons in Canada.”
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on November 24, 2022.
Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press
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