An area hunting outfitter says that a new gun control bill tabled by the Liberal government won’t affect his business —or improve public safety. The wide-ranging bill requires that gun-sellers keep at least 20 years of sales records and says that buyers of shotguns and rifles must present a license when purchasing a gun.
But Paul Hilliard, owner of Woods N’ Water — a hunting and fishing outfitter in Burns Lake — told Black Press that provisions in the gun bill won’t affect his operations because he already practices rigorous record-keeping and checks licences.
Hilliard said his customers are legitimate gun-owners and that violent criminals would buy their firearms on the black market. “The people that I deal with are law-abiding citizens,” he said.
The hunting outfitter said he ensures that gun-buyers hold a Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL) when they purchase a firearm, and that he enters a record of every sale into his computer, along with the buyer’s name, PAL number and the gun’s serial number.
Bill C-71, which was tabled in Parliament on March 20 by Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, is intended to help police investigate gun-related crimes, but the records would be the property of gun-sellers — not a government registry — and police would need a warrant to access them.
Provisions in the bill also include roll-backs on some automatic authorizations that allow for the transport of restricted firearms.
The bill comes on the heels of a mass shooting that killed 17 people at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, the latest in a series of school massacres in the United States. But Hilliard said that the legislation misses its target and won’t improve public safety.
“There’s no issue with the honest gun-owner right now,” he said, arguing that criminals tend to buy their firearms on the black market.
“If somebody’s pissed off at a school and wants to grab a gun and shoot somebody, they’re not coming here to get the gun,” he said, adding that the process for getting a license takes months and involves extensive background checks.
The new legislation would expand these background checks, with personal history questions potentially covering the whole lifetime of the buyer, instead of the current five years before a license application.
The government unveiled the bill as part of a larger effort involving more than $327 million in spending over five years against criminal gun and gang activity.