MPs want to hear from witnesses on government’s definition of assault-style firearm

Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press

Posted Thursday, December 8, 2022 6:20 pm EST

Last updated Thursday, December 8, 2022 7:31 pm EST

OTTAWA – Seven members of a parliamentary committee studying the liberal gun bill have called for two special meetings to hear witnesses on the government’s proposed definition of an assault-style firearm.

The definition, submitted by the government as an amendment, has generated confusion and controversy as lawmakers review Bill C-21 clause by clause.

The seven Liberal, Quebec bloc and New Democrat lawmakers want clarity on the amendment amid concerns the measure would ban many firearms commonly used by hunters.

In a letter to the committee chair, the members say they were unable to question witnesses about the amendment because the groups and experts had already completed their testimony.

“We believe it is in the public interest to untangle and clarify the impacts of this amendment on Bill C-21 and the future of firearms in this country,” the letter states.

Among other technical specifications related to barrel diameter and muzzle energy, the proposed definition includes a center-fire semi-automatic rifle or shotgun designed to accept a detachable magazine that can hold more than five rounds.

MPs are poring over the latest list of firearms that would fall under the definition, which is hundreds of pages long.

Although Conservative MPs on the committee were not involved in the request for more witnesses, they have spoken out against the proposed amendment, calling it an attack on law-abiding gun owners.

It was unclear Thursday when, or even if, additional meetings to hear from witnesses would take place.

“I want to make sure we do everything we can, and we are all committed to turning down the heat where we can, listening to whatever perspective there is and having a healthy, fact-based discussion,” said Liberal MP Taleeb Noormohamed. during a committee meeting on Thursday.

“Hopefully this will allow us to hear from witnesses to address any remaining issues that exist to improve the proposed law and give Canadians confidence that their government is listening.”

Noormohamed thanked committee member and bloc parliamentarian Kristina Michaud for coming up with the idea to hear additional testimony.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday that through some “tweaking” to the wording, the government wants to enshrine a ban on assault-style firearms in the bill and ensure it doesn’t go after shotguns and rifles that They are mainly used for hunting.

“The definition is something we’re very committed to, but the actual list that goes with it is something we’re looking at right now.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on December 8, 2022.

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