Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes his way to a news news conference in Ottawa, Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. The National Firearms Association has been censured by a House of Commons committee for making inflammatory comments about the Trudeau government’s recent gun control legislation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes his way to a news news conference in Ottawa, Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. The National Firearms Association has been censured by a House of Commons committee for making inflammatory comments about the Trudeau government’s recent gun control legislation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Commons committee censures firearms association over inflammatory comments

Association leader’s remarks in video podcast condemned

OTTAWA — The National Firearms Association has been censured by a House of Commons committee for inflammatory comments about the Trudeau government’s recent gun control legislation.

The national security and public safety committee unanimously passed a motion Monday condemning the association’s response to the gun bill, with the support of Liberal, Bloc Québécois and New Democrat members.

The four Conservative committee members abstained.

Liberal MP Pam Damoff proposed the motion, citing a video podcast about the bill last week in which the group’s president, Sheldon Clare, recounted a conversation with someone who suggested Canadians should “construct guillotines” in response to such government “tyranny.”

Damoff said last month’s riot at the U.S. Capitol shows what happens when “inflammatory words provoke insurrection and violence.”

“Words matter,” she told the committee, adding that “it’s time to stop accepting these kinds of rhetoric and vague threats.”

But Clare was unrepentant.

“I make no apology for any comments made during our NFA Talk podcast – like them or not – we have the right to free speech, at least for now. Nothing said advocated violence against anyone,” he said in an email statement.

Clare contended that previous Liberal gun control measures — which he referred to as “their tyrannical attack on the firearm, airsoft and air gun communities” — deserve to be challenged, as does the ban on assault-style weapons, which he called “a sweeping theft of people’s lawfully obtained property.”

“The NFA maintains that our strong Canadian firearms heritage and culture matters, and we shall continue to defend it with vigour.” he said.

Damoff told the committee that Canada is not immune to the kind of violence that erupted in Washington.

She cited the example of heavily armed military reservist Corey Hurren, who rammed the gate at Rideau Hall last July in a bid to confront Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about, among other things, the ban on assault-style firearms.

Hurren pleaded guilty earlier this month to eight charges related to the incident.

Damoff also raised the issue of NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh being accosted last fall by a member of a fringe protest group calling itself the Canadian Revolution, which had set up camp across from the building that houses the Prime Minister’s Office with the stated purpose of making citizens’ arrests of politicians.

“I think we need to take a stand. We need to shut down this kind of language, this way of talking and thinking that’s OK to talk about building guillotines and laughing about those kinds of comments in a public forum,” Damoff said.

Conservative MP Shannon Stubbs said her party takes threats against politicians “extremely seriously,” citing examples of threats she and her staff have received in the past.

But she suggested if the National Firearms Association president’s comments constitute a threat, they should be investigated by the appropriate authorities and discussed only behind closed doors by committee members. She also suggested Clare’s comments may have been taken out of context.

Liberal committee chair John McKay told Stubbs that the authorities have in fact been informed about Clare’s comments.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 22, 2021.

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