When it comes to issues like firearms legislation, it's vitally important the debate over how to keep our communities safe while respecting the rights of responsible firearms owners is based on facts. It's far too easy to make emotional decisions and to implement rules that do nothing to make communities safer and instead target law-abiding Canadians.
We have seen this time and again with this Liberal government, whether it’s the introduction of their firearms bill or opening the door to a complete ban on handguns.
Recently, I came across a great article by Senator Don Plett in which he highlights many important firearms-related facts and backs this information up with statistics and evidence.
For example, according to Statistics Canada, only “a small portion of police-reported violent crime involves firearms.” In fact, in 2016 a firearm was used in only 2.7% of police-reported violent crime incidents and a handgun only 1.6% of the time.
While firearms-related homicides did increase by 20% between 2013 and 2016, according to Statistics Canada, this was “driven by a substantive increase in gang-related homicides.” It's also important to note that firearms-related homicides have been trending downward since 1974.
Another statistic I believe needs to be highlighted is the fact that very few people are charged with violating the Firearms Act. In 2017, the rate of persons over the age of 12 charged for violating the Firearms Act was .22 per 100,000 persons or just over two people for every million. This has also been trending downward for more than 15 years.
This means that the vast majority of firearms owners continue to follow the law, despite ongoing targeting by the Liberal government.
We must keep facts like these in mind when we are debating the issues surrounding firearms legislation. As lawmakers, we must base any future firearms-related legislation on evidence, rather than emotion. We must focus on those actually breaking the law, rather than those who have always followed it.
That's why I was so pleased to see Senator Plett’s informative article and why I am proud to support our Conservative plan to help to keep firearms out of the hands of violent gangs and criminals, while respecting our country’s lawful firearms owners.
Bob Zimmer is the Member of Parliament for Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies.