Skeena-Bulkley Valley NDP MP Taylor Bachrach. (Photo submitted)

Gun bill may not get Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP’s support

Bachrach says NDP will not support amendments banning semi-automatic hunting rifles

New firearms legislation is getting blowback even from traditional supporters.

Bill C-21 was advertised by the governing federal Liberal party as a set of advancements in gun control to protect the public. Its early form was centered mostly on handgun restrictions.

However, about a week ago a proposed amendment added an exhaustive list of semi-automatic firearms to the suggested list of prohibited guns. A great many of these would include common hunting rifles and shotguns.

The current government is a minority configuration requiring all parties to create alliances, from issue to issue, and the NDP has formed a coalition with the Liberals to ensure most legislation will pass.

It is not a rote promise, however, and local MP Taylor Bachrach of the NDP said his past support of gun control was not predicated on the current state of Bill C-21.

“I’ve always supported the ownership and use of firearms needed for hunting, ranching and other aspects of our northern lifestyle,” Bachrach told Black Press. “The Liberals’ last-minute amendment came out of the blue and appears to dramatically alter the scope of Bill C-21. While it is unclear when the vote at committee will take place, the NDP will not support amendments that ban firearms commonly used for hunting or predator control, or that infringe on the rights of Indigenous people.”

First reading of Bill C-21 was on May 30, second reading was June 23, then it was referred to the standing committee on Public Safety and National Security which is the stage at where it now stands.

“With regard to the original bill, the NDP has submitted numerous amendments to address concerns we’ve heard from constituents, including sport shooters, airsoft enthusiasts and others. Our public safety critic will be bringing these amendments forward as part of the committee’s current deliberations.”

The Canadian Coalition for Firearms Rights (CCFR) is a lobby group following the legislative changes. They issued a statement saying, “The amendment not only proposes to prohibit a vast array of rifles and shotguns (with no mention of compensation for current owners), it also includes changing the definition of a prohibited firearm in the Criminal Code to include: ‘a firearm that is a rifle or shotgun, that is capable of discharging centre-fire ammunition in a semi-automatic manner and that is designed to accept a detachable cartridge magazine with a capacity greater than five cartridges of the type for which the firearm was originally designed.’ This will effectively mean the end of all semi-automatic long guns in Canada, at least while the current coalition government remains in power.”

The bill has not passed third reading nor gone through the scrutiny of the Senate, as new laws require.