Editor:

No family should ever feel unsafe in their home, but rural crime remains a critical issue across Alberta and certainly in Foothills.

My Conservative colleagues and I have brought forward several initiatives on rural crime including a study at the Public Safety Committee, established a Rural Crime Task Force and locally I partnered with MLAs, municipal councils, First Nation communities, RCMP and rural crime watch groups to share ideas.

However, our efforts are being stymied by nonsensical legislative changes by the Liberal government.

This has never been more evident than with the recent tabling of Bills C-21 and C-22. The first bill is an infringement on the rights of law-abiding firearms owners, while C-22 actually reduces sentencing on violent gun crime.

In contrast, Conservatives tabled alternative legislation (C-238) to target actual gun crime and smuggling to strengthen the criminal code. Liberals voted against that bill, showing they are not serious about stopping dangerous criminals from accessing illegal firearms

How does this make any sense? Why are the Liberals ignoring the data and experts when it comes to addressing rural crime, gangs and gun crime?

The Liberals are misleading Canadians when they claim Bill C-21 will curb gun crime because we know that is simply not true. This will not keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and gangs. The fact is most firearms used in criminal activities are illegal firearms smuggled into Canada from the United States.

In fact, C-21 also bans Airsoft guns which will be devastating to this industry including Foothills paintball parks like Millarville and Bragg Creek.

No matter how draconian the Liberal government gets with domestic firearms regulations, no matter how much they trample on the freedoms of law-abiding Canadians, the reality is criminals do not obtain their firearms legally, and they will never follow firearms laws.

Instead of targeting law-abiding Canadians and firearms retailers, the government should be investing in  anti-gang and gun units and the CBSA to provide law enforcement with the resources they need to stop illegal smuggling operations and get dangerous criminals and gangs off our streets.

However, the Liberals have gone backwards by introducing Bill C-22.

C-22 eliminates a number of mandatory minimums relating to gun crimes including: robbery with a firearm; weapons trafficking; unauthorized importing or exporting; discharging a firearm with intent; using a firearm in commission of offences; and possession of weapon obtained by commission of offence.

A majority of the above mandatory minimums were introduced under previous Liberal governments, contrary to the narrative from the Liberals they are undoing Conservative legislation.

To be clear, the Liberals are eliminating mandatory prison time for criminals who commit robbery with a firearm, weapons trafficking, and drive-by shootings. They’re doing this because they feel these laws are unfair. They are standing up for criminals instead of defending our rural communities.

Please know, we are doing everything we can to oppose both Bills including organizing petitions to ensure the Liberals understand the issue. The first petition, led by Conservative MP Glen Motz from Medicine Hat, was tabled with 175,000 signatures and Calgary MP Michelle Rempel-Garner sponsored another petition which garnered more than 230,000 signatures – a record number of petition signatures for the House. 

You can also express your opposition by writing directly to the Minister of Public Safety and Prime Minister at pm@pm.gc.ca and ps.ministerofpublicsafety-ministredelasecuritepublique.sp@canada.ca.

Also, speak with friends and family who do not own firearms to help them understand your concerns. We need to show Canadians we already have strict gun control measures in this country, this legislation will not address gun crime and you can help be a part of that movement.

John Barlow, Member of Parliament for Foothills

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