Expanded Gun Control Legislation Introduced In Parliament
TORONTO (AP) _ Justice Minister Kim Campbell introduced expanded gun control legislation into the House of Commons Thursday to ban military style assault weapons, require a 28-day purchase waiting period and impose other restrictions.
Pro-gun and anti-gun lobbyists both expressed disappointment, but opposition members of Parliament appeared ready to support the bill.
″Basically, it’s trash,″ said David Tomlinson of Edmonton, Alberta, president of the National Firearms Association. ″We are for better firearms legislation and better protection for women. This is not it.″
Iain Main of Canadians for a Safer Canada said there was nothing new in the proposed legislation. ″It is piecemeal and I’m pretty disappointed.″
The bill is similar to one that died in the last session of Parliament after members from the governing Progressive Conservative Party could not agree on its provisions. This version tries to appease legitimate gun owners and those who flooded Conservative members of Parliament with mail opposing the earlier bill.
″It is a better bill, it is a tougher bill, one that places public safety first,″ Campbell told a news conference in Ottawa. ″That is not to say that those who legitimately use firearms have been ignored.″
Warren Allmand of the oppositiion Liberal Party said: ″On the whole, this is a very good bill. We will generally support this bill. We will have a serious examination of the bill in committte. We will try to tighten certain provisions in the bill.″
Ian Waddel of the socialist New Democratic Party called it ″a very modest bill″ and rued the fact ″the guts of the bill will be done by regulation.″
In fact, the measure makes few major changes to the legislation that died in the last session, but it included several significant adjustments to address the complaints of gun-control advocates as well as hunters and sport shooters.
″This package brings Canada’s gun control system up to an acceptable standard, in line with today’s reality,″ said Ms. Campbell.
The proposed measure would ban assault weapons such as the Soviet-designed AK-47 and the Israeli-made Uzi. It was not clear if it would prohibit or restrict the .223 caliber Ruger that Marc Lepine used to kill 14 women at the University of Montreal in December 1989.
That massacre spurred the current widespread call for tighter gun control in Canada.
The justice minister says her bill, which she hopes will be passed before summer, will require the purchaser of a gun to wait 28 days before he can be issued the required ″firearms acquisition certificate.″
Presently, anyone 16 or over can buy a gun unless a police check reveals a criminal or violent record. The new bill would require parental consent for young people 16 and 17 to purchase guns.
It also would restrict the capacity of magazines to five rounds for rifles and 10 rounds for handguns. Exception would be made for competitive shooters, the justice minister said. Lepine used two 30-round magazines in his 1989 shooting spree that shocked this nation of 26 million people
″We are proposing new sentences for illegal possession of prohibited weapons,″ Ms. Campbell said. ″The current maximum of five years will be increased to a maximum of 10 years for that offense.″
Courts may now issue orders prohibiting certain people from owning firearms, such as those who use a gun in the commission of a crime.
″Increases in mandatory firearms prohibition orders would rise from the present five to 10 years for a first offense and up to life for subsequent ones,″ she said.
Instead of spelling out exactly which guns will be banned, the legislation leaves the decision to an advisory committee of experts set up last year.
The bill was introduced just two days after Statistics Canada issued its latest crime figures showing violence hitting record highs in Canada, jumping 7 percent in 1990 over 1989. About 270,000 violent crimes were committed in Canada last year, the 13th straight year the figure has increased.
Tomlinson of the National Firearms Association said Campbell’s bill would do little to stop such crime.
He noted the last firearms legislation was passed in 1978 was supposed to slow violent crime.
″From 1979 to 1989, violent crime went up 69 percent. Last year it went up another 7 percent. This is the wrong legislation.″
He wondered rhetorically which parts of the proposed bill were going to reduce armed robbery, rape and other violent crime.
″Public safety is paramount,″ said Ms. Campbell. ″At the same time, there is flexibility. The government recognizes legitimate uses for firearms. The package allows for this.″