Last week the provincial government hurriedly passed Bill 4: the Firearms Violence Protection Act that ostensibly contained new measures to protect the public against gang-related gun crimes. While the bill did spur some debate in the legislature, as one of the Lower Mainland's largest rod and gun clubs we were greatly concerned about the lack of consultation given to legitimate shooting and hunting clubs.
The bill, now law, contained clauses that created confusion around the hunting rights of both First Nations and other licensed hunters. Minister Farnworth was forced to clarify in debate that the law stating that it was illegal to discharge a firearm from a boat would not impact generations of duck hunters. Nor, according to the Minister, would the law take away from the constitutional rights of the Indigenous people to harvest using their traditional methods. An amendment to the act was accepted for the First Nations, but apparently, we will have to wait for a revision of the Wildlife Act to clarify provisions for other hunters.
The new law also seemed to impact smaller shooting ranges who are now required to record detailed usage, even for those who do not have funds to maintain staff. While this is already the practice at our club of 3,000-plus members, the minister again had to state that he does not intend to make it a burden on smaller clubs that provide safe venues for target practice and training.
At PCDHFC, we are only too happy to cooperate in the fight against gang activity, especially as we are in Minister Farnworth's backyard. The club has always had an open offer to the minister to engage in true dialogue over real measures to protect the public and hope real consultation in the future will protect both the public and lawful stakeholders.
Keith Loh, President, Port Coquitlam & District Hunting and Fishing Club