Conservative MPs Michelle Rempel (left) and Mel Arnold (right) took to the stage at Vernon’s town hall Saturday. (Brieanna Charlebois/ Morning Star)

Conservative MPs discussed firearms at Vernon town hall Saturday

“We should reject solutions that seek to divide people and have no legitimate outcome to what we all want to do, which is to reduce crime.”

Gun control could be a defining issue in this year’s federal election.

The Prestige Hotel’s conference room reached full capacity at Vernon’s firearms town hall Saturday where Conservative MP Michelle Rempel, a strong advocate for firearms rights for legitimate firearms owners, hunters, farmers and sports enthusiasts, and North Okanagan—Shuswap MP Mel Arnold took the stage at the Prestige Inn to present their stance regarding proposed changes to firearms legislation and answer the public’s questions.

Opposition seems to be laying the groundwork for making guns a wedge issue. The Liberals are aiming at cities and suburbs, while the Conservatives focus on rural and remote ridings.

Trudeau’s proposed new Bill C-71 is the Liberal government’s effort to tighten Canada’s firearms law, including enhanced background checks for obtaining a firearms licence and mandatory record-keeping for vendors.

Related: Potential gun owners scrutinized under Canadian laws

Related: Handgun ban issue fires up candidates in B.C. city

“People are concerned about public safety, but they’re also concerned about getting the proper legislation in place, so let’s make this debate about policy and not about American politics,” said Rempel.

She said that, while we can occasionally look to international examples like the United States as a reference, it is important to note that we can’t use them exclusively because, “Canadians use guns in different ways than other countries do,” she said noting hunting and farming uses.

“People often cite international statistics and make them apples to apples but Japan (for example) is not Canada. We have to have a ‘made in Canada’ solution to firearms violence that is made in our context,” she said. “That’s why we believe it’s important to come up with a public policy solution that is based on data and fact and targeting the people and the firearms sources that actually cause crimes.”

Rempel also encouraged discourse between people with opposing views within the community to attempt to understand both sides of the argument.

“We need to write laws that voters support. We should reject solutions that seek to divide people and have no legitimate outcome to what we all want to do, which is to reduce crime. I encourage people to reach across those divides.”

Rempel has been visiting communities across Canada to understand how people feel on the issue before bringing back her findings to the House of Commons in Ottawa. The Vernon event ran from about 1:30 p.m.- 3:30 p.m. at the Prestige Hotel Saturday afternoon.

Related: Gun violence a ‘significant concern’ for Canadians, Bill Blair says

Related: Gun used in Fredericton killings is legal, man had licence

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People spilled into the hallway at the town hall held at the Prestige Hotel in Vernon Saturday. (Brieanna Charlebois/ Morning Star)

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