Justin Trudeau’s ban on “military style” firearms hasn’t gotten any more popular since it was announced earlier this year in the wake of a spree killing in Nova Scotia by a man who illegally armed himself with firearms and posed as a police officer to target his victims. An online petition calling for an end to the ban drew responses from more than 230,000 Canadians, and according to CBC, it’s the most popular parliamentary online petition ever filed in the country.
The petition asks the prime minister to immediately scrap his “firearms confiscation regime,” calling it “undemocratically imposed without debate during a pandemic while Parliament is suspended, [and] an assault on Canadian democracy.”
“[Canadians] are wondering why the government has chosen to confiscate legally-owned firearms during a suspended parliament,” [MP Michelle] Rempel Garner said in an interview with CBC News.
“When we know that that is going to do little to reduce the issue of violent crime in Canada, in terms of firearms that are obtained illegally.”
Rempel Gardner, who represents a district in the province of Alberta, is absolutely right that Trudeau’s gun ban isn’t going to do anything to tackle violent crime in Canada, much of which is driven by gang violence surrounded by both illegal drugs and illicitly obtained firearms.
Instead of a ban on assault-style weapons, Rempel Garner’s petition calls on the government to crack down on firearms obtained illegally, specifically targeting the prevention of smuggled firearms across the U.S. border.
“Canada has one of the most rigorous firearms acquisition licensing regimes in the world,” she said.
“When we’re looking at the very important issue of preventing firearms violence in Canada, we have to look at where firearms that are used in violent crime are coming from and we know that the vast majority of those are illegally obtained and primarily smuggled in from the United States.”
Even some police officers in Canada have acknowledged that making it illegal to own some of the most common modern sporting rifles isn’t going to impact the gang members and drug dealers fueling the violence.
Police have seen a 58% increase in gun violence over the past five years, but Winnipeg police Insp. Max Waddell doesn’t believe a gun ban would do much to stop it.
Waddell, speaking to the media with close to $1 million in drugs in front of him following a recent bust, said the drug trade is the leading cause for the uptick because those who sell illicit drugs need to protect themselves and their property.
“It’s a ruthless business,” he said.
And it’s that ruthlessness that leads Waddell to believe, in his opinion, a ban on guns will not stop illicit and illegal drugs in Winnipeg.
“The reality is, if criminals want to get their hands on it, they’re going to get their hands on it,” he said.
Waddell used the drugs in front of him as an example. They are all banned, he said.
“It’s not going to do anything,” he said. “It will come from illegal means again.”
Waddell pointed to the legalization of cannabis, saying that police haven’t seen a downturn in the black market.
“It’s still as strong or stronger,” he said. “It’s the exact same principle.
Canada’s parliament won’t be back in session until later this month, but when lawmakers return Rempel Gardner will officially file the petition, which will trigger a mandated response by the federal government. I doubt that Trudeau’s response will be to kill his gun ban, but the issue isn’t going to simply disappear.
As part of his plan, Trudeau announced a two-year amnesty for existing gun owners to hand over their now-illegal firearms. That amnesty is set to expire in mid-2022, a little more than a year before the deadline for Canada’s next federal election in October of 2023. It’s quite possible that federal elections will take place before then, but either way I suspect that Trudeau’s gun ban is going to be a key issue for many voters in the country’s midsection, which has seen the most opposition to Trudeau’s anti-gun agenda. Justin Trudeau may have imposed his nationwide gun ban, but voters still have the opportunity to undo the damage by returning the Liberal party to a minority when they get the opportunity to cast their next vote.