One issue surrounding firearm ownership in Canada is mental illness, and the reluctance to seek help due to fear of loss of property. Once Bill C-71 comes into effect this stigma on a already heavily regulated segment of the population will only get worse.
It of course has to be said that if you are a firearm owner suffering from mental illness then please seek help. Under our current firearm laws you can have a friend, relative, or firearm organization temporarily store your firearm collection (so long as they're appropriately licensed) while you obtain the help you require.
Now if Bill C-71 comes into effect the ability to seek temporary storage and find the help you need could very well change due to the further mental health screenings that are required under this legislation.
Of course to someone not entirely educated into the topic of firearm law and ownership, this sounds like a good thing, because if you own firearms you should be of sound mental health for "public safety". However once you learn that licensed firearm owners in Canada are already statistically the safest segment of the population under current law, you can easily see that further mental health screening is a waster of taxpayer dollars. In fact licensed firearm owners in Canada are statistically the lowest risk to public safety under current law in any segment of crime. Meaning on average licensed firearm owners commit any type of crime far less than your average Canadian citizen, and this is under current law.
Bill C-71 will give the power to the Canadian Firearms Program to ask invasive questions with the terms of "have you ever.....". Currently to obtain a firearm license a prospective individual has to answer a series of questions that start with the terms "within the last five years...". Such as "within the last five years have you been diagnosed with mental illness". Where as under Bill C-71 that question will change to "have you ever been diagnosed with mental illness". This could very well violate protections placed on our youth, and make it so that firearm owners no longer have those protections under the young offenders act or their youth medial history. For example if a firearm owner was a hyperactive nutcase that drove their teachers crazy (also known as a young boy) and was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (which is vastly over diagnosed in young boys) the diagnosis and their prescription could very well be used against them if Bill C-71 becomes law. A diagnosis that carries a lifetime stigma shouldn't be used against an adult that no longer suffers from a illness they have been cured of.
Yes we agree that firearm owners should be of sound mental health, but what we disagree on is the approach to it. Firearm owners shouldn't be further stigmatized to the point that they may not seek the help they require due to fear of loss of property, which for some people can be an entire life's work. With so few mental health issues being a permanent threat to the firearm owner or to public safety a firearm owner should have the ability to seek help and not be permanently punished for it.
Where mental health does come into play with the licensed firearm owner is suicide. Now both sides of the debate can agree that suicide is bad, and now that's out of the way we can explore this a bit. We would want the firearm owner to seek help if they have thoughts of suicide, which in most cases are temporary thoughts brought on by a traumatic life experience. If a firearm owner can seek temporary storage with a licensed friend, seek the mental health help they require, and after they're cured obtain their property back they're far more likely to seek the help they require. Where as if a firearm owner seeks help and permanently loses their property by doing so they're far less likely to obtain the help they need. Neither side of the debate wants to see anyone commit suicide, but if Bill C-71 comes into law it's far less likely for firearm owners to seek the help they require. Even if their property is forfeited, without seeking the help they require they are still as likely to commit suicide by a different method than by a firearm. It just seems that there are some people in the debate that are fine with suicide so long as it's not statistically done by a firearm.
If Bill C-71 becomes law it would further stigmatize firearm owners and possibly force those who truly need to seek help to not obtain it. Bill C-71 is so badly worded and thought out that it has the potential to force people to carry a lifetime stigma even if they were misdiagnosed or are permanently cured of the illness. Furthermore it has the potential to breach protections that we have in place for our youth.
Bill C-71 is terribly thought out, terribly worded, and scrutinizes law abiding firearm owners to the point that they nearly become a second class of citizen with less rights than your average citizen. No matter if you're a firearm owner or not, ask yourself, is this the Canada you want to live in?