The introduction of Bill C-21, An Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms), in the House of Commons on February 16 included a provision that would allow municipalities to establish handgun bylaws.
The creation of a mechanism for municipal handgun ban doesn’t come as a surprise, as the federal government has been signaling the desire to do this since the last election.
What we didn’t know, however, was how they would actually bypass provinces to make it happen.
The reality is that they didn’t – and it’s because they couldn’t. The Canadian Constitution gives the provinces control over municipalities, so the powers of a municipality are completely dependent on what the province allows them to do. This includes bylaw-making authority.
HOW COULD MUNICIPAL HANDGUN BYLAWS ACTUALLY WORK?
The federal government has proposed to enable the municipal bylaws prescribed in Bill C-21 to be recognized as a condition on a federal firearms licence.
Those bylaws are: Prohibit storage at home (i.e. owners must store handguns at a licensed business); or, prohibit storage anywhere in a municipality, and transport to or from certain places in it.
After a municipality establishes one of these handgun bylaws, all impacted licence owners in the municipality would have 180 days to comply (from the time the federal Minister sends notice to confirm the bylaw as being consistent with the provisions of the Firearms Act). That’s assuming, of course, that the municipality is able to make AND enforce the bylaw under provincial law in the first place.
In Saskatchewan, the provincial government pre-empted this move at the federal level by passing legislation in 2020 that limited municipal bylaw-making authority to what the province allows through regulation. In Alberta, there is a Private Member’s Bill that would require provincial approval for any firearm-related bylaws.
SO, WHAT DOES THE HANDGUN BYLAW PROVISION OF BILL C-21 MEAN FOR ONTARIO?
To our knowledge, Ontario doesn’t have the legislative guidance that Saskatchewan has enacted or the oversight that Alberta is considering in order to prevent handgun bylaws. As of right now, The Municipal Act, 2001 in Ontario gives bylaw-making authority to municipalities, and public safety is one of the reasons that can be used. It is our understanding that the current legislation would allow for these handgun bans to be established and take effect in Ontario. We are working to confirm this with the Government of Ontario, and at the same time we are also making recommendations for how they can address our broader concerns with municipal firearms bylaws. More on that later.
WHAT IS OFAH DOING ABOUT IT?
We’ve taken a preliminary look at the municipal bylaw section of Bill C-21 and developed a backgrounder that is intended to help firearm owners understand what is being proposed and also guide our advocacy on Bill C-21. This will include advocacy during the parliamentary process for Bill C-21, as well as continuing discussions with the province about municipal firearms issues. And, that dialogue with the province didn’t start with Bill C-21 last week.
For decades, the OFAH has been the lead, and often only firearms stakeholder, when issues arise at the municipal level. Whether it is discharge of firearms bylaws, noise bylaws, or Sunday Gun Hunting discussions, the OFAH has been there for hundreds of firearms-related discussions with municipalities to debunk myths and clarify misconceptions that are all too common. The challenges we’ve faced with a lack of guidance or oversight over the years are now raising their ugly head again with the potential for Bill C-21’s handgun bylaws to contribute to an already inconsistent patchwork of overreaching municipal firearms rules. As the OFAH staff person responsible for most municipal policy issues, I have seen this time and again.
WHY IS THE OFAH TALKING ABOUT HANDGUNS?
We are often asked why the OFAH is involved in discussions about handguns and restricted firearms that can’t be used for hunting in Ontario. In short, handgun issues are often more than just handgun issues. It is difficult to disentangle restricted and non-restricted firearm interests in policy discussions. Even if the policy discussions are distinct, the public’s lack of knowledge about firearms (and associated policy) often brings the discussions back together. The most common example I have experienced is when public sentiments (including at municipal councils) call for semi-automatic bans without any concept of the connection to common hunting shotguns and rifles. The current proposal may be limited to handgun bylaws, but you can be sure that municipal discussions won’t stop there. Many councils will discuss other ways to restrict firearms at the municipal level and this will affect more than just handgun owners.
With these newly proposed bylaws, handgun interests fully intersect with the broader firearms bylaw-making concerns that continue to be a core issue for the Federation. Every year, the decisions at municipal councils affect all firearms owners and club firearm ranges, and we have long sought more consistency through provincial oversight. This is just one more example of a bigger issue we are facing as a firearms community.
The federal government has landed municipal firearms issues on the province’s doorstep, so we fully intend to use the heightened provincial awareness to expand the conversation beyond handguns. We are asking the Government of Ontario to fully examine municipal bylaw making authority under The Municipal Act, with an intent to provide more structured guidance and/or provincial oversight of decision-making for all firearms bylaws (not just handguns).
For more details, check out the OFAH Backgrounder: What the ‘municipal’ section of Bill C-21 could mean for Ontario.
Thank you for defending our rights.
One thing that seems obvious to me is that allowing municipalities to create a patchwork of criminal laws, (Firearms are a federal responsibility per SCC), is a violation of the guarantees of equality before and under the law for all Canadians. Criminal law applies to the whole country. How can we then defend creating disparate laws across the country depending on where you live?
Requiring firearms to be stored at a central place is sheer idiocy. Who is going to pay for security? Can you think of a bigger target for thieves? What are a couple of rent-a-cops going to do when vans of men with automatic weapons show up to empty the storage facility?
These political zealots cannot be reasoned with. They are fanatics who have no regard to the facts. The only way to fight them is through the courts.
I couldn’t agree any more to your comments Darryl I was thinking the same thing about security of a central storage place. It is pure idiocy for a FACT. What a way to give thieves a much broader amount of arsenal.
I disagree with a ban on fire arms. I am a senior who has hunted all my life.. I enjoy going to the range that I am a member of and fire off a few rounds at a target.. All I have seen is the LIEBERALS go after honest gun owners. I have not seen anything being done about criminals. Turdo. And big mouth Blair are afraid of the criminals. It is time to go after the right target. ,CRIMINALS..
I TOTALLY agree with you Robert. TruDUMB and his LIEberal cohorts have virtually NO knowledge of the legal sport shooter and hunter. We are just an easier target than criminals, and they are trying to impress people who don’t know any more than they do to vote for them at election time. I pray God will help us crumble the Liberals when the next election rolls around. I have been a long time member of OFAH, and also support the Canadian Coalition for Firearms Rights (CCFR) in their court battles against the government. Cheers…!!!
To say the least, I am very disappointed that the OFAH has not taken a stronger stand AGAINST Bill C-21. As outlined in Brian McRae’s article I don’t think it is necessary to reiterate the reasons why this legislation is wrong. I do not believe OFAH is doing enough to fight this legislation and am considering withdrawing my membership to put my money into groups that are strongly fighting Bill C-21.
Very good to see that OFAH is finally realizing that they have to defend Restricted firearms owners.
More support from OFAH for sport shooters before and during C71 would have been nice though.
Or is this because the May 1st 2020 is now affecting hunters with previously non restricted rifles ( Ruger Mini-14 comes to mind) ?
Please make sure all Ofah members become fully aware that once handguns and semi auto centerfire rifles are banned the semi shotguns, bolt action mag fed rifles and pump guns are going to be next.
Once it gets to that point there are no sport shooters around to help in that fight!!
Keep the pressure on don’t let the city dwellers destroy the hunting and firearms culture in Ontario/Canada!
Another obvious reason for OFAH to be involved in the handgun legislation is that the proposals in C-21 will have a very low probability of having any impact on public safety which is something we should all be concerned about. Given that most handgun related homicides are with smuggled handguns and criminals do not register their guns it is very unlikely that there will be a reduction in handgun related homicides. An apparent driver for this legislation were the mass shootings in Montreal, Quebec City, and Nova Scotia. These are rare events and as such cannot be predictably prevented because illegally acquired guns will still be available to someone determined to commit mass murder. Furthermore, if the government intends to make those of us who are currently legal gun owners criminals by passing this legislation then they should be willing to predict how many lives will be saved after the legislation is passed. The way it stands now is that they are making a political statement only with this bill and will not be accountable if lives are not saved as a result.
I came to Canada in 1967. I started working in the Markham area. To the north of the construction site, was farm and bush. There were two individuals who were working on the site, that brought their guns along with them. The guns were in their pickup trucks and even the doors were unlocked. After working hours, these individuals would go and do some hunting in these areas. Times have changed drastically. All safety protocals are important. Hunters and sports enthustists take all safety procedures in handling their firearms. Individuals that illegally use firearms for other means are the problem. We should not be put into the same classification.
It makes me really sad to see the federal government attacking law abiding firearm owners. What happened to the Canada I knew? The smoke and mirrors of this political game are disgusting. Our tax dollars are being used to assist the liberal re-election platform which has the appearance of making Canadians safer. I keep hearing about handgun bans. Existing legislation means I can only transport my handgun from home to range by the most direct route. The gun must be trigger locked in a locked case in the vehicle while ammunition must be in a locked case in the trunk. Who exactly is carrying loaded handguns on the city streets? Not lawful firearm owners. Handguns are already banned in a sense. Is this supposedly new policy under C21 not like banning drunk drivers? Why would something be banned that is already against the law? Unless of course, this is the deceptive way Trudeau/Blair are trying to appear to do something on gun control, in order to get elected? Why should the Canadian taxpayer fund Trudeau/Blair’s electioneering? Should this scurrilous legislation, without evidence at the base, not come out of campaign finances?
Ty OFAH for doing your part to protect Canadian History, Culture.
PM Justin Trudope and Bill Bliar have turned 2.2 million Canadian tax paying RCMP licenced/vetted, CSIS monitored 24/7 365 “DOTY” that provide $8.5 billion to the Canadian Economy and 48,000+ Jobs to individuals, and families, into Criminals overnight on a whim by way of Order in Council. Which by passes Parliament and the Democratic process not to mention proroguing Parliament for 6 months so as no one could challenge it or anything else this “minority government” who acts like they are a “majority” are doing.
This is why Canadian Firearm Owners, FA Organizations and Businesses are taking the Government of Canada / RCMP to Federal Court where they will actually have to answer questions under oath and provide facts and transparency, not hearsay and deceit. This is more than Firearms, this is about the theft of private property.
Please take the time to view the videos to learn the seriousness of the Gun grab and support the many legal challenges put forth by several Individuals, Organizations, and Businesses against the unlawful OIC/RCMP/FRT.
Thank you for your time, consideration, and support.
Gun Ban Pt2
Gun Ban Exposed Pt1
Gun Ban Exposed Pt2
Gun Ban Exposed Pt3
Gun Ban Exposed Pt4
Gun Ban Exposed Pt5
Banned Firearms Link / Lien sur les armes à feu interdites
Christine Generoux / Overturn the Unconstitutional GoC Gun Grab 2020
CCFR Legal Challenge
John Hipwell Judicial review
K.K.S. Tactical Judicial Review
Public Interest Litigants Judicial Review of Order In Council SOR/2020-96.
NFA Court Challenge
J.R. Cox Fight the OIC in Court
Class Action to reverse illegal RCMP FRT changes
Judicial OIC Challenge – John Hipwell & Ed Burlew
Trudeau is coming for us. And he won’t stop until all firearms are restricted. Exceptions could be, all firearms allowed to the Public be stored in a facility designated by the Municipality or Federal Gov’t. And retrieval of firearms by owners be retrieved to certain hours of specific days. See Firearm Policy in Zimbabwe as a model in place as I write.
I do not agree that handguns need to be under lock and key anywhere else than at the home of the gun owner. We are the responsible gun owners and handlers. It’s the criminals that are not. All this will do is create a lucrative black market for hand guns. Even if I lived in the city I would not agree to this bylaw. What is it going to take before Canada needs a Second Amendment to their constitution so we can protect ourselves from our government!!
Background checks, mental health followups when someone is expected of having this, and medical checkups would be a better way to handle guns in the long run. In saying this, nothing will keep hand guns out of the reach of criminals. Black market will always sustain them. Education, not government restrictions are a better way to go.
Do you think this bill C-21 will pass Federal parliament without any way of stopping it? Is that why the OFAH think the best way is to lobby the province to stop the cities or counties from banning handguns if the council or mayors think it’s the way to stop gang/drug violence. It’s not going to do a damn thing to reduce crime on Toronto…..the general public haven’t got a clue when it comes to the regulations handgun owners have to abide by now to have sport shooting at a registered club now. This proposed bill is to make voters think the Liberal’s along with NDP and Green parties are going to make it much safer with less crime and crazy people not getting their hands on guns. The gun club I belong to has donated and will continue to donate to CCFR to challenge this bill in court even if it is an uphill battle. I wish the OFAH which I am a member would be more active in running ad’s on TV, Newspapers, the Mike Miller outdoors show, ect telling Ontario people why this bill is not going to make us safer, it’s going to cost millions that the federal government shouldn’t be spending and it’s all for hoping the Liberal party gets votes. I am not pissed at the OFAH I just wish they were more aggressive….Your going to have to pick a party.
You can bet your bottom dollar that Trudeau is pushing the full cost of GUN legislation onto the Municipalities so as to have them pay the full cost of this gun crap. Thus he has money for another slush fund.
When this is all said and done there should be no more criminal acts done with guns. Therefore the government should be held liable for any occurrence involving criminal acts with guns. Let’s not punish the criminal let’s punish the law abiding gun owner
This by law buy the Federal Government for Bill C-21 to let Municipalities in Ontario decide if they want hand guns in their. towns and cities. This is not what should be done .If the government went after the criminals that steal guns and bring smuggled guns in to Ontario this would help. legal hand gun owners have to take a course and back ground check buy the police. They have to be long to a gun club to carry hand guns and shoot them. All hand guns have to be registered also .Hand gun owners are checked twenty four hours a day seven days a week by The Royal Mounted Police.
Very well presented and an excellent argument for why it’s not just handguns.
We’ve talked before about the possibility of your addressing our club on this topic.
Realize you may not wish to do this in person, however we are holding a general meeting
Sunday March 14th. Is there a possibility you could meet with us to address this topic.
If possible we could do by Zoom if you can’t attend personally.
Madoc Sport Shooters, Madoc Ontario
Law abiding gun owners can not get into a debate about public safety…it’ll be back and forth forever. This has to go to the nine dinks and they have been born and raised confused …one way or the other…these questions always end up in front of the nine dinks..that always rule backwards..instead of for the magna carta and the charter the way they were originally written. IE: The rights and needs of the one always out-weigh the many…the nine dinks rule backwards, the rights and needs of the many outweigh the one. It defies logic and common sense……The rights and needs of the one are for everyone,including the many.
I think the Government has more important issues and or concerns then devising ways to disarm law abiding, licensed Firearm Owners. If the Gang Violence, Drug Related, problems stemmed from them utilizing legally owned Firearms while committing these Crimes, then I too, will be on board for change.
I think it is time to send or show the Liberals, once and for all, a message this election that Canadians are tired of their foolishness, hair brained ideas that waste a lot of money and achieve absolutely, nothing.
Whether you’re a handgun owner or not, this is another Liberal step in suffocating gun owner rights. Next will be long rifles and shotguns. We will have a central gun repository for all. Trudean Et Al will not stop. The only way is to get them out of office. The NDP will go even further than the Trudeauites. Will the Conservaties have the fortitude to even stand up for gun owners? It’s scary. Toronto rules. What has happened to my country?!!!