Firearm legislation only beginning of fight against gun crime, minister says
The newly proposed tightening of gun laws in Canada is only one step to solving firearms-related crime, the public safety minister says.
Ralph Goodale tabled Bill C-71 on Tuesday, which included enhancements to existing background checks for those seeking a firearms license.
Those checks will now give authorities the power to examine a person's entire life history for potential red flags, instead of being limited to the previous five years.
The bill is also proposing changes to how vendors document the sale of firearms. If the bill passes, retailers would be required to maintain adequate records of all inventories and sales.
The records will be owned and maintained by the retailers themselves, and will only be accessible to police if they obtain a warrant. Many retailers, including the country's major sporting goods stores, already track sales of firearms. The legislation will require that these records be kept for a 20-year period.
Some gun rights advocates maintain the provision will simply lead to the establishment of a long-gun registry by another name. The Liberal platform vowed not to recreate it.
However, the legislation wouldn't require individuals who sell firearms to keep records of transfers.
It places a "heavy burden" on individuals to keep those records, Goodale told The House.
"We're taking the requirements for records to the extent that we think is reasonable and practical and realistic."
He also said the legislation will not directly address trafficking of illegal firearms.
Traditionally, illegal guns came mostly from the U.S., he explained, but they are increasingly coming from within Canada.
In order to combat that, Goodale said border control needs to be looked at. Additionally, conversations must happen between the federal and provincial governments about how to tackle gun-related crime.