Proposed Liberal gun buy-back program gives criminals a ‘free pass’, say Tories

The Liberal government’s proposed gun buyback program will benefit criminals and punish law-abiding gun owners, the Conservative Party says.

In May, the government announced it would introduce a mandatory gun buy-back program, coupled with new legislation proposed in Bill C-21, which would tighten gun restrictions announced in 2020 that banned more than 1,500 types of “assault type” firearms.

Raquel Dancho, Conservative Shadow Minister for Public Safety, and Pierre Paul-Hus, Shadow Minister for Public Services and Procurement, said in a statement that the Liberal buyout program gives criminals “a free pass”.

“Instead of targeting gangs and smuggling guns, Justin Trudeau is introducing a gun buyback program that punishes legitimate gun owners,” the statement read.

“The fact is that hobbyists, collectors, sport shooters and hunters are not responsible for the increase in gun crime in Canada – gangs, criminals and the guns they smuggle illegally from the United States are.”

Dancho and Paul-Hus estimate that the buyout program will cost Canadian taxpayers between $400 million and $600 million and that enforcement will be the responsibility of local police departments.

“Conservatives remain concerned that this burden will fall on local police, whose resources are already stretched as they fight real crime on our streets,” the statement said. “Offloading this costly and ineffective policy onto the police would only further compromise public safety by exhausting the limited policing services in our communities.”

Liberal MP and Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino explained the government’s proposed buyout plan in a recent Tweeter and declaration. Mendicino said the 2020 gun ban was not enough because many illegal firearms remained in circulation in Canada.

“Weapons of war like the AR-15 have no place in Canada,” he wrote. “That’s why we’ve banned them and will be running a buyout program to get them out of our communities.”

On July 28, the government released a list of proposed prices the government would pay gun owners for the surrender of their now illegal firearms. The list includes 11 different prices for different models, with $1,337 compensation for AR-15s and $2,600 compensation for M-14 rifles.

“Today’s proposed price list represents another step toward removing these dangerous firearms from Canadian communities while ensuring that current firearm owners are fairly compensated,” Mendicino said.

If passed, the law introducing the buy-back program would require Canadian owners of the now illegal firearms to sell them to the federal government, render them “unusable at government expense,” or dispose of them legally, according to Mendicino’s statement. .

Owners will have until October 2023 to take any of these actions; there is an amnesty order in place protecting them from criminal prosecution for possession of illegal weapons until then.

The government is seeking responses on the buy-back price list, saying it ‘welcomes views and ideas from gun owners’ on the proposed price list in an online survey available through August 28 . The survey is anonymous.

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Peter Wilson is a journalist based in Ontario, Canada.

Christy J. Olson