GUN CONTROL – Why Canada’s gun ban won’t put a stop to the shootings

Research associate
Frontier Centre for Public Policy

A PROHIBITION is the easiest way out of a policy problem. In enacting one to target gun violence, the federal government has admitted failure to find a solution that preserves both rights and lives.

The deadliest mass shooting in Canadian history took place in Nova Scotia on April 19. The shooter didn’t have a gun licence; he obtained the arms illegally. Nevertheless, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has banned 1,500 models of what he describes as assault-style weapons, unfairly targeting lawful citizens and hurting gun businesses.

The prohibitions include two of the guns used by the Nova Scotia shooter and other weapons involved in mass shootings in the United States. Always going the extra mile, the federal government has extended the ban to countless other firearms with a 20-mm bore or greater and with projectile-discharging energy of more than 10,000 joules.

Collateral damage

By announcing a two-year amnesty for owners of the banned guns and a buyback program, Trudeau believed he had taken into account the concerns of those affected. The reality is the policy will affect not just gun owners, but also local stores and entire industries.

Cary Baker, a retired army major, set up a firearms business with his pension savings in January 2018. With the ban, he won’t be able to sell $350,000 worth of recently restricted guns and accessories, he told CBC News.

Baker said he has always abided by the law and that his clients are good Canadians. “I’m certainly going to have a harder time each month now paying the bills [and] my employees,” he told reporters, saying he has little hope of recovering his investment.

The shooting-sports industry adds $8.9 billion to the national economy, according to a recent study conducted by the Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association. The report also reported that hunting and sports shooting account for 6,100 full-time jobs in British Columbia alone.

In total, the hunting, fishing, trapping and shooting-sports industries supports 107,000 jobs and generates $6.4 billion in labor income during 2018.

Pandemic tips the scales

Tighter gun control has been a hot-button issue since 2018, in the wake of a mass shooting in downtown Toronto. Back then, the federal government was exploring a full ban on handguns and assault weapons, but public opinion wasn’t on side.

To gain time and lobby for support, the government launched a lengthy consultation process. In total, 77 stakeholders participated in these sessions, including provincial governments, municipalities, law-enforcement agencies, non-profits, retailers, researchers and the shooting-sports community.

Their views on limiting access to guns were diverse. Shooting-sports clubs, wildlife associations, and retailers opposed a ban and argued such a policy would neither curb illicit-gun markets nor reduce crime. They said there’s not enough data to support a ban, or to identify the source of the weapons used for crimes and who is committing them.

Instead, the focus should lie on enforcing existing laws, increasing penalties on arms-trafficking and gun-related crimes and tailoring local policies to target gangs, they argued.

Other stakeholders, especially victim-focused organizations, supported a ban to reduce the overall availability of guns.

All stakeholders agreed, however, on the need to address the underlying causes of firearm violence, such as the lack of education, job opportunities and adequate mental-health care.

The engagement process included an online questionnaire, available to all Canadians in the fall of 2018. Almost 135,000 people responded. Tellingly, 81 per cent of respondents rejected more stringent regulations on handguns and 77 per cent rejected increased rules for assault-style weapons. Around 75 per cent said they believed officials should increase efforts on limiting already illicit firearms, which come from smuggling and theft.

This time, the government ban succeeded. Another mass shooting in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic was enough for citizens to surrender their liberties in exchange for security.

More law enforcement, fewer controls

Adam Palmer, director of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, told Chatelaine magazine that most weapons used in violent crimes are illegal. He said further bans would boost the black market and “straw purchasing,” a work-around that involves reselling legally purchased guns to those without a licence.

Moreover, individuals and businesses report around 3,000 firearm thefts a year in Canada. According to Statistics Canada, most incidents occur during break-ins, while others result from unsafe storage. Most of these weapons remain in the hands of criminals.

Every law, no matter how well designed, has loopholes and this is especially true for gun control. Criminals don’t hesitate to commit illegal acts, such as bootlegging, to get firearms. In the process, the ban will create a lucrative underground market for banned guns.

No reduction in gun-related crimes looms on the horizon. Addressing the more complex problems of narcotics, smuggling, and terrorism will yield more effective and durable results.

The federal government should take mass shootings seriously and get to the bottom of Canada’s increasing violent crime.

The ban will hurt job creation at the worst possible time, as Canadians struggle to get back on their feet after economically challenging lockdowns.

As many times before, the cure fails to address the root causes and just compounds the disease with new, intractable problems.

Paz Gomez is a research associate with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.

– Troy Media

About Mel Rothenburger (8559 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

7 Comments on GUN CONTROL – Why Canada’s gun ban won’t put a stop to the shootings

  1. All the laws, and bans in the world will not keep guns, or restricted weapons out of the hands of criminals.

    • Tony Brumell // July 17, 2020 at 6:31 PM // Reply

      figures are not necessary but common sense should weigh in at some point.FACT !!! Fewer guns on the market will mean fewer foolish deaths. No Guns !! no gun murder. try to refute this Pierre.

  2. A much needed step towards a safer country, but many more steps are needed.
    I will agree with Mr. Tony here that owning these types of weapons is only about stroking the ‘lookie what I got’, throwing rocks at windows childish ego. Sport shooters will eventually satisfy their sport or hunting needs with non prohibited guns.

    Trudeau was certainly clear to provide First Nations and other food source providers time to switch out their hardware, so they in the end don’t lose anything.

    Mr. Gomez kind of cherry picked his talking points from the Engagement Summary Report – Reducing Violent Crime: A Dialogue on Handguns and Assault-Style Firearms. There were a myriad of logical points that he has chosen to give a miss to, but I will just highlight one as it relates to no legitimate use or purpose to own these weapons:


    “A few stakeholders support a ban because they do not believe there are any legitimate uses for handguns and/or assault-style firearms for civilians, even for hunting. While some acknowledged there may be some sport/recreational benefit for individuals, they do not think providing legal access to these firearms is justified with the safety risk they pose.”

    “As these firearms have no legitimate use in hunting, current owners may only legally use them for target shooting or collecting. This is not a compelling enough reason to justify the risk they pose to public safety.”

    End quote.

    An argument that has little logical retort.

    Although I will endorse Mr. Gomez as far more honest, clear and fact/stat based than a mess of an article a couple months ago by Bill Bosch (President\B.C. Wildlife Federation), which cycled aimlessly on pure rhetorical soundbite nonsense (no Canadian target shooters at the Olympics or T-Shirt canons at football games) … but Mr. Gomez’s argument is still pushing the agenda of so many jobs lost and the eradication of the the Sport shooting industry and attendant economic loss.

    This argument reminds me of the well cultured corporate protest response to minimum wage increases. In both of these cases, there is no stat or economic forecast that backs up such statements, yet here we are once again being told to be afraid of the economic doom and massive job losses. It wont happen, people will just move on, shooters will just show up with non prohibited guns and continue to spend their hunting dollars and no one will lose a job because someone cant bring their assault rifle.

    It is clear that to make this happen, the federal government simply had to make it happen, and they did. What they now need to do is severely stiffen the legal consequences of having a prohibited weapon, whether used in a crime or not, and I mean long years in prison. Without that, you have no incentive.

    Sponsors against the prohibition will continue to be noisy,
    then they will trade up to other guns and the world will continue on,
    and criminals holding these guns will go to jail.

  3. Tony Brumell // June 30, 2020 at 3:51 PM // Reply

    I relate most of this crap to the old “build it and they will come” edict. The mentality of many people who need/want High cyclic/high energy weapons is directed by ego.Most of what we do is ego related. It’s the same as a young kids smashing windows “for the fun of it”. This kind of violent action appeals to those egos who want stroking. By owning it ,it goes without saying I want to use it.because me ego demands it.
    There may well be a legitimate place for certain guns for recreational and food sourcing pourposes but Trudeau (and I have no love for the man ) has attempted to sideline at least part (if not all ) by restricting weapons that serve only to stroke the ego and have no other practical / peaceful pourpose.
    Good on him .I do not believe that we need now or ever in Canada regional or district militias as they do in the U.S. The more wild guns we have the greater the chances that another Lepin will get hold of one. OH !! Someone already did. Are we better off feeding those egos ?
    I think not.

  4. Bob Gamble // June 30, 2020 at 7:24 AM // Reply

    The article was a waste of time. Not one word on why on earth anyone would want a gun. Spent the whole piece lecturing on the steps to take to protect Canadians from gun owners. The quickest way is to get rid of guns.

    Raised on the Prairies and had my first 22 at 14 and shotgun at 16. When I finally grew up (still working on it) I realized shooting gophers wasn’t a career choice and cleaning ducks no one wanted to eat was a waste of time. The guns are long gone.

    For the most part Canadians (or anyone else) don’t need guns! They serve little if any purpose in our lives and they kill.

    Will limiting guns to only those who hunt for sustenance or to protect us end gun violence – no. Will it put a stop to illegal guns – no. It will however decrease the likelihood guns being used to take the lives of the innocent. It also decreases the pool of weapons our law officials have to worry about.

    And let’s not get started on handguns. Never met anybody who could drop a deer at 100 yards with a Colt 45.

    • Well Bob, many thanks for a great reply to another distorted opinion against gun control. I read too many of these pseudo-intellectual arguments brought forward by semi-articulate “gun lovers” (note the quotation marks))…actually the argument from them is always the same irritant one.

  5. A reminder that: Figures never lie, but liars sometime figure. Lots irrelevant figures in this contribution.

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