Langley Advance Times runs a new weekly feature, call it “At Your Service.”
It’s another forum in which to put questions to our local politicians about key issues facing our community and its residents.
Using a basic question-and-answer format, elected officials will be asked one question at a time and given the opportunity to respond (to a maximum of 250 words) on that said issue.
Alternating between elected groups, Langley City and Langley Township councils, Langley school board, Langley MLAs, and Langley MPs each have a chance to participate.
The answers provided will be published in their entirety online each Sunday.
Both Langley MPs were asked the same question: Given the significant number of shootings in Langley and around the Lower Mainland lately, what measures can the federal government take to help local and regional law enforcement reduce violent gang activity?
MP John Aldag
A. While violence persists in our cities, we are committed to additional measures beyond those we have already implemented.
These include toughening our laws on banned assault weapons by making it mandatory for owners to sell the firearm back to the government for destruction and fair compensation.
We are cracking down on high-capacity magazines and require that long-gun magazines, capable of holding more than five rounds, be permanently altered so that they can never hold more than five rounds.
We are banning the sale or transfer of magazines that could hold more than a legal number of bullets, regardless of how they were intended to be used by the manufacturer.
We will also set aside a minimum of $1 billion to support provinces or territories who implement a ban on handguns across their jurisdiction, to keep our cities and communities safe. We will continue to combat gender-based violence and fight gun smuggling with measures we have introduced such as:
• Lifetime background checks to prevent those with a history of abuse against their spouse or partner from obtaining a firearms licence.
• “Red flag” laws that would allow immediate removal of firearms if that person is a threat to themselves or others, particularly to their spouse or partner.
• Increased maximum penalties for firearms trafficking and smuggling from 10 to 14 years imprisonment.
• Enhancing the capacity of the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency to combat the illegal importation of firearms.
MP Tako van Popta
A. The increase in shootings in Langley is disturbing.
It is shocking to see familiar Langley scenes on the news, behind yellow police tape.
In my role as deputy shadow minister for public safety and on the public safety committee, I have learned that most shootings in the Lower Mainland are gang related and that almost all the firearms used by gang members are handguns smuggled in from the United States.
So, what can the federal government do?
First, let’s keep young people out of gangs.
There are many great organizations around the country devoted to educating young people about the down-side of gang life. Working closely with law enforcement agencies, these organizations should be encouraged, empowered, and better funded.
Second, we need to understand that Canadian gun control laws only go so far in keeping us safe.
We need to better resource the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the RCMP so that they are better equipped to tackle the real problem, firearms smuggling.
Third, the administration of our existing laws around firearms possession and acquisition licencing (PAL) needs to be improved. For example, in committee we learned that the Canadian Firearms Program contacts only about 10 per cent of the personal references listed by applicants in their application forms.
Lack of financial and human resources is always a challenge, and none of these problems are easy to solve.
We all want to keep our streets safe for our families; we now just need to develop the political will to make it happen.
Next week’s Langley City councillors are being asked: The City is largely flat, and has an expanding network of bike lanes, making it ideal for local trips by bike. Is it time to bring in a bike share or scooter share program?
Watch for their answers online Sunday.