After months of delays, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Friday that a new ban on “military-style” semi-automatic rifles is now in effect, and owners of the firearms have two years to either hand over their guns to the government in a compensated confiscation scheme or risk criminal charges.
“These weapons were designed for one purpose and one purpose only — only to kill the largest amount of people in the shortest amount of time,” Trudeau said, adding that he acknowledges most gun owners are law-abiding citizens.
“You don’t need an AR-15 to bring down a deer,” he said.
Thanks to the quirks of a parliamentary system of government, Trudeau doesn’t need a vote by Parliament to enact the ban. Instead, he’s using a procedure known as “orders in council” to ram through the sweeping gun ban. The move allows Trudeau’s cabinet to supplant Parliament and approve legislation without a pesky vote by politicians.
One of those politicians already objecting to Trudeau’s gun ban is Michelle Rempel Garner, a member of Parliament from Alberta and a staunch supporter of Canada’s gun owners.
This ban does nothing to prevent firearms violence. Call every Liberal MP and protest. Call every CPC Leadership candidate and ask them to commit to repealing this. https://t.co/MdjirzE8g0
— Michelle Rempel Garner (@MichelleRempel) May 1, 2020
Other Canadians, including the Western Standard‘s Derek Fildebrandt, are calling on individual provinces to not enforce Trudeau’s order.
This gun theft can not be enforced without the consent of the provinces. If they come for your guns, your provincial government is equally responsible.
The premiers should refuse to comply. https://t.co/x2NX1btN2P
— Derek Fildebrandt (@Dfildebrandt) May 1, 2020
Canada doesn’t have a Second Amendment, but what Fildebrandt is calling for sounds a lot like the Canadian equivalent of Second Amendment sanctuaries.
Meanwhile, some supporters of a gun ban are suggesting that Trudeau’s talking up his gun, when the actual text of the legislation isn’t as sweeping as he claims. Canadian author A.J. Somerset noted on Twitter that the 1,500 makes and models banned by Trudeau leave many semi-automatic firearms legal to purchase.
Trudeau’s description of this ban seems to wildly overstate its scope.
9 families of guns are banned, based on reports we have so far. Many similar guns will remain legal. We have to wait on the technical briefing for the facts behind the rhetoric. https://t.co/g7zOSON1Uu
— A.J. Somerset (@ajsomerset) May 1, 2020
The CBC uncovered another bit of fine print that Trudeau didn’t talk about during his press conference.
A government official speaking on background at a technical briefing for journalists said the number of these now-banned firearms currently in circulation is unknown.
Some of the firearms being prohibited are currently classified as “non-restricted” — mostly firearms like shotguns — meaning licensed owners do not have to register them with the police. (The long-gun registry was abolished by the previous Conservative government.)
There are 105,000 firearms currently classified as “restricted” that will now be classified as “prohibited.”
The government official said that, at the end of the two-year amnesty, gun owners must dispose of the firearm or they may be able apply for the firearm to be “grandfathered.” Details on the grandfather process would be released at a later date, the official said.
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said today that gun owners who did not turn in their banned firearms would be subject to criminal penalty, but it sounds like a grandfather clause for existing gun owners also on the table, though why the Trudeau government didn’t have those details ready to go is a mystery.
Actually, it’s not much of a mystery at all. Justin Trudeau is shamelessly and cynically trying to use the tragic murders in Nova Scotia as the impetus for his gun ban, and even though he and his cabinet have been working on the gun ban for well over a year, they apparently decided to make the formal announcement before they had a formal plan in place.
Trudeau’s announcement is already generating a backlash, and the fact that he is ramming through his ban without a vote by Parliament will only make it worse. Canada isn’t a dictatorship, and threatening to turn hundreds of thousands of Canadians into criminals won’t be well received in rural parts of the country. Orders in council can also still be challenged in court, and I expect that we could see the first lawsuits filed over Trudeau’s new gun ban as early as next week.