The Liberal government will be introducing a new bill related to firearms on May 30, according to the House of Commons notice paper.
Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino will be presenting the bill, titled “An Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms).”
The content of the new bill is currently unknown but its title is identical to Bill C-21, which was presented in the last Parliament and died when the government called an election.
That bill included measures such as increasing from 10 to 14 years the maximum penalty of imprisonment for some indictable firearms offences, creating a new offence for altering the lawful capacity of magazines, and authorizing the chief firearms officers to suspend a licence if there is reasonable grounds to suspect the holder is no longer fit to have it.
The bill also sought to address cross-border criminality by amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and designating the public safety minister as responsible for establishing policies on “inadmissibility on grounds of transborder criminality for the commission of an offence on entering Canada.”
Trudeau’s mandate letter for Mendicino in December 2021 also sheds some light on what the new bill could include.
Mendicino was tasked with requiring the permanent alteration of long-gun magazines so that they cannot be altered to take more than five rounds and with banning the transfer or sale of magazines capable of holding more than the legal number of bullets.
The letter also included working for the introduction of “red flag” laws to remove firearms from individuals deemed a threat to themselves or others, and providing financial support to provinces or territories that want to ban handguns.
The Ontario Liberals have promised to ban handguns within one year of taking office in the current electoral campaign.
Some of the measures in Mendicino’s mandate letter have been announced in recent weeks, such as funding local-level programs to curb gun violence and asking businesses to keep records of firearms sales.
The Conservative opposition has criticized that last measure as a veiled resurrection of the long-gun registry, which transfers responsibility from government to businesses.
The Tories view Liberal measures as unfairly targeting legal gun owners while being soft on criminals.
The vast majority of gun crimes in Canada are committed by individuals who do not hold a firearms licence and who use stolen or illegal firearms.
According to Statistics Canada, 11 percent of those who committed murder with a firearm in 2020 had a valid firearms licence.
Toronto’s deputy police chief Myron Demkiw, who testified before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety on Feb. 8, said that 86 percent of handguns used in crime in 2021 in his city came from the United States.
While seeking to curb gun violence, the Liberal government is also pursuing a bill to reduce mandatory minimum sentences for some firearms offences like armed robbery.
The Liberals say Bill C-5 is a measure to address “systemic racism” by reducing the proportion of incarcerated blacks and indigenous people.