Bill C-71 Should Fail With Real Answers to Senator’s 8 Questions — Canadian Senator Pierre Dalphond proposed eight questions for the Senate committee reviewing Bill C-71, the planned law seeking new prohibitions and penalties for hunters and sport shooters. If the goal of the bill is greater public safety, honest answers to his questions will sink the bill.

Dalphond, a member of the Independent Senators Group, presented his list of questions on Oct. 16 after citing comments by the Supreme Court of Canada on the potential danger of the criminal use of firearms and the absence of rights to own them. (Read the transcript or listen to the audio starting at 16:31:31.)

He didn’t mention:

  • that firearms are used to protect more often than to attack, and that more than 90,000 Canadian men and women, mainly police, are required to carry firearms for personal and public safety.
  • that Canada’s tradition of arming and training private citizens for national security is almost as old as Confederation (since at least 1868).
  • that target shooting is one of Canada’s safest and most popular sporting activities.
  • that more adults have a firearm licence than play hockey.

The government of Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau proposed Bill C-71 in March. The House of Commons approved it with amendments last month. The bill itself proposes to amend the Firearms Act and Criminal Code.

Also in March, a public-relations firm that advises the government said new restrictions on shooters present an “untapped opportunity” for the Liberals to win votes in the next election.

Read: Anti-Gun Laws Would Help Liberals Win Election, PR Advisor Says

“My review of the proposed amendments contained in Bill C-71 convinces me that the bill in pith and substance is directed to regulating access to firearms through restrictions, prohibitions and penalties,” Dalphond told the Senate in Ottawa on Oct. 16.

The Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs will review the proposed legislation.

Dalphond, a lawyer named to the Senate by Trudeau in June and a member of the standing committee, invited the group to consider his questions as well as the testimony of experts and public comments including The Bill C-71 Book, which the Canadian Shooting Sports Association sent to each senator.

The Bill C-71 Book Cover Canada Firearms

 The Bill C-71 Book
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Dalphond’s Eight Questions for Bill C-71

With Responses by (See also The Bill C-71 Book.)


1. “What are the problems that the bill wants to solve?”

Our Response: The pollsters are right. The bill will help the Liberals win votes from centre-left voters who are unfamiliar with Canada’s regime of police-controlled firearm registration and owner licensing. The government says Bill C-71 is about public safety, as if threatening 2.2 million lawful hunters and sport shooters with more ways to go to prison will magically get wife beaters, gangs and terrorists to stop being bad.

Senator Yonah Martin, the deputy leader of the opposition in the Senate, asked Dalphond: “This legislation seems to address restricting and regulating the legal firearms owners who already are very, very restricted. … Can you explain why there aren’t any provisions in this legislation that address either the criminal use of firearms or the problem of gun and gang violence?”

2. “What are the factual elements upon which the government is relying?”

Our Response: Not much. The government is relying on half-truths and cherry-picked statistics. The flaws are facilitated by Statistics Canada and major police departments presenting “firearm-related crime” that includes non-firearms and non-crimes. (Reports of unreliable stats here, here, Global News, CBC News, CBC News, Gary Mauser.)

The Senate review is a good time for Canadians to get clean data in full context.

  • Why do people act violently?
  • Why this obsession with firearms as a tool of violence? Fatal stabbings have exceeded fatal shootings in 7 of the past 10 years. Are we going to require car dealers and rental companies to validate driver’s licences with the RCMP in case it thwarts vehicle attacks? “If it saves just one life …”
  • Who commits violent crime? (It isn’t men and women who ask for permission from the federal police to invest thousands of dollars on precision machinery.)
  • How does the government monitor violent criminals? (Federally licensed gun owners have to report a change of address to the federal police within 30 days. Convicted sex offenders don’t.)
  • Why does the government spend more resources tracking the proven “good guys” (men and women with a firearm licence) than the proven “bad guys,” the 430 known gangs, or the half-million or so people who are deemed too risky to own guns?
  • What is the percentage of crime where the offender used a firearm? (StatsCan says it’s less than 0.5 percent of police-reported crime.)
  • How safe are men and women with a firearm Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL) compared to the general population? (If your daughter is going on a date with one of two identical twins, one of whom has a PAL, the PAL is her pal.)
  • How risky are guns? (Your insurance company cares if you smoke cigarettes or own a car, not if you own guns. The most dangerous part of a day at the range is the drive.)
  • How has past legislation affected the rate of violent crime with firearms? (When was the last time a mugger or assassin asked you for the latest edition of the Criminal Code to make sure they were in compliance?)
  • Bottom Line: Canada’s costly experiment with firearm licensing and registration hasn’t done a thing to prevent violence, but it has provided decades of data showing that licensed gun owners are safer than the general population. (The same result could have been achieved with far less cost and far less hassle, but that’s for another day.)
  • Statistically speaking and other things being equal, a Senator without a firearm Possession and Acquisition Licence is a greater threat to public safety than a Senator with a licence and with guns.
  • We have a more complete list of relevant data that should be reviewed.

3. “Which citizens will be affected by this bill?”

Our Response: How many gang members and terrorists have written to their Members of Parliament and Senators to oppose Bill C-71? How many hunters, sport shooters and firearm collectors have written to share their concerns?

4. “What are the anticipated benefits of the proposed measures?”

Our Response: For Liberals: A page in their 2019 election booklet: “We promised to do something about guns, so we passed Bill C-71 to crack down on hunters and sport shooters, Bill C-75 to ease up on gangs, and Bill C-45 because prohibition is good for guns but bad for bud.”

For Conservatives: Many former Liberal voters hoping to avoid becoming former gun owners.

5. “What are the impacts on lawful firearm owners?”

Our Response:

  • Beyond the specific measures, it is vicious slander to suggest licensed gun owners need more restrictions, prohibitions and penalties to dissuade us from illegality or immorality. Several members of the House of Commons and the Senate have shown deep ignorance of and disrespect to Canada’s community of firearm users and the seriousness with which we take our freedom, our power and our responsibility.
  • Bill C-71 will result in the immediate prohibition of legally owned rifles from as many as 15,000 owners and the confiscation of those rifles after the owners die. The total of lost wealth for those 15,000 families from the firearms and related gear could total roughly $20 million.
  • It will stop athletes from showing up at competitions with functioning gear in cases where they needed a gunsmith but couldn’t get police permission to go.
  • Lifetime background checks will mean people will lose their guns. Remember that fight you got into when you were 19? Or those anti-depressants you took 10 years ago after you lost your job or your girlfriend dumped you?
  • It’s a serious violation of personal privacy to require individuals discussing a private commercial transaction to share that information with the federal police. There is no justification to force a prospective buyer and seller to share that they are in negotiation with each other, as would be required under Bill C-71’s sections on licence verification prior to a purchase. If licence validity is a concern, each licence could be validated independently. (But if licence validity is a concern, it means the entire multi-billion dollar firearm-licensing system doesn’t do what its promoters said it would do.)

6. “What are the impacts on Aboriginals?”

Our Response: Heather Bear, the vice chief for the Saskatchewan Region of the Assembly of First Nations, told the House of Commons Committee reviewing Bill C-71 that the proposed law raises serious constitutional concerns” and that it is possible the Assembly of First Nations would initiate a constitutional challenge.

7. “Is there a proportionality between the sought-after benefits and the imposed obligations?”

Our Response: Is it worth inventing new crimes for millions of honest people so the government can pretend it is improving public safety?

8. “What will be the cost of the measures for the Canadian treasury, and for firearm owners?”

Our Response: Please be very skeptical of any financial estimates. The current government and the political party it represents have a track record of failing to meet financial projections in general, and for firearm licensing and registration in particular.

Update at 08:15 Toronto time: Adds Yonah Martin comment.

Correction 1 at 09:25 Toronto time: Corrects to say that tradition of arming citizens is almost as old as Confederation.

Correction 2 on Oct. 17 at 09:45 Toronto time: Corrects headline and article to show speaker was Senator Pierre Dalphond. See also notes at bottom.)

Correction 3 on Oct. 18 at 21:00 Toronto time: Deletes point in Question 5 related to ATTs for a shooting range.

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