Firearms ban amendments about votes, not safety, say P.E.I. gun owners

Amendments to Bill C-21 that expand the definition of banned firearms needed more consultation with hunters and target shooters, say two P.E.I. gun owners.

‘The whole process has been an attempt to divide us’

Eric Paynter dressed in camouflage with water in background.
P.E.I. hunter Eric Paynter says he owns about 10 guns that would become illegal under the current version of Bill C-21. (Submitted by Eric Paynter)

Amendments to Bill C-21 that expand the definition of banned firearms needed more consultation with hunters and target shooters, say two P.E.I. gun owners.

"This isn't a minor amendment to the law," Nelline Cronje, a member of Women Shooters of P.E.I, told Island Morning host Laura Chapin.

"It's a fundamental change which was not debated in the house. Expert witnesses did not get to speak to it. No consultations were done on it  It circumvents the whole democratic process."

Gun owners Eric Paynter and Nelline Cronje are not happy with the federal government amending the gun ban law — Bill C-21. They say there should have been more consultation before bringing forward an expanded list of guns that will be off-limits.

One gun in particular on the list, said Cronje, the SKS, is commonly used for hunting outside of P.E.I. The Canadian Shooting Sports Association estimates there are 500,000 SKS owners in Canada. Many of them have no idea their ownership of the gun could be criminalized, said Cronje.

The changes include many guns commonly used for hunting. Eric Paynter, an avid waterfowl hunter and hunting guide, said it would make about 10 guns that he owns illegal.

Semi-automatics easier to use

Some of the problems come down to a misunderstanding of the advantages of semi-automatic weapons, said Paynter.

These are not always designed to make shooting faster, he said. Sometimes the technology is used to reduce recoil on the weapons.

Nelline Cronje with rifle
Targetting legal gun owners will not make Canada safer, says Nelline Cronje. (Submitted by Nelline Cronje)

"People getting a little on in years, and smaller stature hunters, youth and our lady hunters, they like semi-automatics because there's less recoil," said Paynter.

Both Cronje and Paynter agree the changes are more about politics than safety.

"Let's be real here. It's all about votes, using the gun laws to divert attention," said Paynter.

Two SKS rifles
A proposal to ban the SKS rifle, designed in 1945 in the Soviet Union, is particularly problematic, says Nelline Cronje. (CBC)

"If [they want] to make this country safer put the money into policing, and also our health-care system, and particularly the mental health side of things. [They're] blaming the tool that people are using. Why not look after the people instead."

Cronje calls the bans virtue signalling.

"The big problem is cross-border smuggling of illegal weapons, and that is not being targeted," she said.

"I think they're coming for our guns. I really think the whole process has been an attempt to divide us. Firstly, sporting shooters like myself and my husband, we were targeted first. The hunters and the farmers believe that this doesn't affect us. Now, it does affect them."

Bill C-21 is far from becoming law in its current form, said Charlottetown MP Sean Casey.

The Public Safety standing committee is considering extensive amendments, and Casey doesn't expect the bill to be back before the House of Commons for weeks, if not months.


Kevin Yarr is the early morning web journalist at CBC P.E.I. Kevin has a specialty in data journalism, and how statistics relate to the changing lives of Islanders. He has a BSc and a BA from Dalhousie University, and studied journalism at Holland College in Charlottetown. You can reach him at

With files from Laura Chapin