In a surprising move by the Trudeau Liberals, they withdrew controversial amendments Friday to Bill C-21 that targeted rifles and shotguns popular with hunters, sport shooters, and gun collectors.
Liberal MP Taleeb Noormohamed announced the decision during a public safety committee meeting, taking MPs present by surprise.
The committee of MPs gave unanimous consent to revoke the amendments.
At a recent Yukon town hall, former deputy minister Bill Klassen told Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino he would purposely indulge in civil disobedience and not surrender his Parker shotgun, Weatherby rifle, or Ruger.
"I intend no offence, Minister Mendicino, but I can't agree with your description of the laws," said Klassen. "I've obeyed the law."
"As a former deputy minister at the Yukon government, I've enforced the laws. And I recognize a bad law when I see it."
Despite the rollback, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said his government remains committed to reviving its ban on assault-style rifles.
The Trudeau Liberals futilely spent months defending the amendments, accusing the Conservatives of misinforming Canadians about the law — even after the Bloc Québécois and NDP withdrew their support for the bill.
The amendments "really derailed" progress on Bill C-21, said NDP MP Alistair MacGregor at committee Friday.
"I’ve never seen such a groundswell of opposition come from everywhere, all at once," he said.
In a separate conference, Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre took credit for the government’s reversal, claiming his party "forced Justin Trudeau into a temporary but humiliating climbdown."
According to the Procurement Canada website, the Trudeau Liberals plan to commence their buyback program in the spring of 2023. They added 1,500 firearms to the prohibited schedule on May 1, 2020, a few days after the deadly Nova Scotia mass shooting.
In May 2022, the feds introduced Bill C-21 — just days after the mass shooting at a Texas elementary school.
The legislation intended to freeze the sale of handguns, crack down on gun smuggling from the US and automatically revoke firearms licenses from domestic abusers.
But the plan hit some hurdles, with Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and New Brunswick opposing the federal government’s "misguided" plan.
The feds also backtracked recently on their pilot project in Prince Edward Island to test the firearms buyback program. Public Safety spokesperson Audrey Champoux stated the pilot was "one of many options on the table" but is now "out of date."
Bill C-21 initially targeted handguns, but in late-stage amendments, the Liberals expanded the law also to target assault-style rifles.
On November 22, after witness testimony on Bill C-21 before the House of Commons public safety committee had wrapped, the government tacked on amendments that expanded the bill to cover assault-style firearms.
They tabled them in two sections, including a list of thousands of banned firearms and language that would automatically ban future weapons before they come on the market if they constitute 'assault-style' firearms.
As a result, the feds faced considerable backlash on the legislation for not explaining the amendments to the public when tabled in November. They pledged the amendments would not affect hunters — but later acknowledged they would.
Thus, Mendicino spent much of January in damage control, meeting with stakeholders, including hunting groups, across Canada.
In a statement released Friday, Mendicino's spokesperson Alexander Cohen said the federal government would work with Opposition parties to "craft a clear solution that will keep assault-style weapons off our streets" by drafting new language on an assault-style firearm ban that most MPs would support.
The National Firearms Association (NFA) condemned the Trudeau Liberals for failing to define 'assault-style' and devising a scheme that demonizes law-abiding firearms owners and targets the firearms they claim are designed to 'kill the most amount of people in the least amount of time.'
"They haven't defined 'assault-style' weapons yet, and they keep saying weapons, but these are firearms that law-abiding Canadians have gone through the process of getting an operator's license and going through red tape to appease the government to possess [them] legally," said Jordan Vandenhoff, communications director to the NFA.