The issue: Assault gun ban
We say: Popular support
Some Canadian gun owners feel victimized.
One thousand and five hundred models deemed to be “assault-style” firearms were banned on May 1.
There was no debate in Parliament, just an Order in Council – essentially a directive from the prime minister and cabinet.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s statement announcing the prohibition made mention of the tragic shooting rampage in Nova Scotia that had occurred almost two weeks earlier. It was a shocking event that rocked the nation.
There are those who argue Trudeau and the Liberals are guilty of political opportunism, seizing upon the tragedy as justification for imposing the ban.
Trudeau had been arguing for the stricter gun control since 2015 and Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said in December that he was drafting a list of firearms that would be banished.
The federal government could have elected to tighten restrictions on these semi-automatic weapons and prohibit any further sales, grandfathering existing owners.
Instead, Blair says the governing party will implement a buyback program that will cost an estimated $400 million to $600 million over the next two years.
That may have caused some Canadians to roll their eyes. Those who endured the painfully ineffective and extremely costly gun registry debacle under Jean Chretien’s Liberals know all too well that projected expenses can be wildly inaccurate. The gun registry, put in place in 1995, was expected to carry a $2 million price tag. The program, dismantled by the Conservatives in 2012, ultimately cost closer to $2 billion.
Our government can ill afford to miscalculate that badly again now that it is being forced to prop up Canadian businesses laid low by pandemic restrictions.
The firearms community argues that law-abiding gun owners are being unfairly penalized – stopped from using their semi-automatics at the range and enjoying the privilege of firing at targets. Gun crime, they say, won’t be reduced by the ban as many illegal assault weapons and handguns pour over the Canadian border from the United States through criminal activity. On that point they are right. Border security needs be heightened to prevent the flow of smuggled firearms.
The problem for gun enthusiasts is that Canadians, by and large, are not enthusiastic about guns.
Only 26 per cent of Canadians own a firearm, according to Justice Canada. An Angus-Reid poll published on May 1 shows that 78 per cent of those questioned – 1,581 adult Canadians – support a complete ban on civilians owning what the government terms an ‘assault’ weapon.
The Liberal government made its decision to ban the assault-style weapons with support from the NDP and the Bloc Quebecois.
Trudeau, like him or not, stated in regards to assault rifles: “These weapons were designed for one purpose, and one purpose only: To kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time. There is no use and no place for such weapons in Canada.”
Place that rhetoric alongside images of mass shootings in the news, such as the Nova Scotia shooting spree that took so many lives or the Quebec City mosque shooting in 2017, plus the lunacy of American “anti-lockdown protesters” brandish guns inside the state capitol in Michigan, and it’s easy to see why the Canadian gun rights lobby has such a hard time finding empathy among people who don’t own guns.
It doesn’t matter that the Nova Scotia shooter’s guns were obtained illegally or that the protesters in Michigan didn’t harm anyone.
An overwhelming number of Canadians simply don’t like what they see.
No matter their argument, at the end of the day, gun owners are simply outgunned.