OTTAWA — The Trudeau government is making it even more difficult for Canadian citizens to buy guns.
In legislation introduced Tuesday, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale is mandating more extensive background checks that will attempt to discern any evidence of mental illness in a potential gun owner’s personal history. When asked what kinds of mental illness are associated with gun violence, Goodale explained that he would “have that conversation with a variety of groups and organizations.”
The minister said he hopes to address the theft of guns in future legislation with his provincial and territorial counterparts.
Goodale called it “sensible, practical package.”
Bill C-71 will also force sellers of firearms to maintain their own registry of everyone who purchases a gun in their shop. Law enforcement authorities can demand the list at any time, with judicial approval.
At a news conference, Goodale admitted it has been a tough bill to sell to Liberal Members of Parliament (MP) from rural Canada who pushed back on the bill.
“We have had ample, extensive, some would say exhaustive — certainly exhausting consultations and that’s how democracy works,” he told reporters.
When asked if the Liberals would “lose seats over this,” Goodale repeated that the government had “worked very, very hard to listen to Canadians, to listen to our own caucus, to listen to the firearms advisory committee on this topic.”
Bill C-71 will also make it make it more difficult to transport firearms anywhere except to a firing range.
The legislation also seeks to repeal a decision by the previous Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper that allowed the federal government to decide which guns should be deemed “restricted” or “prohibited.” That decision would be given back to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
Goodale prefaced his remarks on the bill by describing “the steady increase in gun violence over the past five years” throughout Canada.
“Crime rates generally in Canada have been on the decline for decades; but offenses involving firearms are bucking the trend…there were almost 2,500 criminal incidents in Canada involving firearms in 2016: that was up by 30 percent since 2013. Gun homicides are up by two-thirds,” he said.