Trudeau's proposed handgun "freeze" leads to red-hot gun sales in Canada

AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis

One of the ironies of the modern gun control movement is that when the odds of them succeeding in putting a ban in place go up, so do the sales of the guns they’re trying to ban. I would not be surprised, for instance to see U.S. sales of rifles tick up when we get the NICS figures for June firearm transfers in a few weeks, thanks in large part to Joe Biden and other Democrats demanding that Congress pass his ban on modern sporting rifles, but we’re also seeing this phenomenon play out with our neighbor to the north right now.

Last week Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau announced his plan to freeze sales of handguns and “buy back” tens of thousands of lawfully-possessed rifles, and in the days since gun stores across Canada report that they’ve been inundated with customers hoping to purchase a handgun before the freeze takes effect.

Aman Sandhu checked store after store for a handgun in Canada’s British Columbia, hoping to make a purchase before a freeze on sales takes effect, but struggled to find one in stock.

“I’m concerned that if I don’t buy one now, I may never have the choice again,” Sandhu, a member of the Dawson Creek Sportsman’s Club, told AFP.

… While Sandhu is keen to buy a pistol, he is also wary of becoming mired in new rules that include hefty penalties for even minor lapses.

“Jeez, if I slip up, I could screw up the rest of my firearms ownership,” he said, describing a handful of long guns in his collection.

Several gun stores in British Columbia province saw lines out the door within hours of the liberal leader’s declaration on Monday (May 30). Other shops across Canada said that they sold out within days.

“Sales have been brisk,” said Jen Lavigne, co-owner of That Hunting Store in a strip mall on the outskirts of the capital Ottawa, nestled between a barbershop, a Chinese buffet restaurant and a conservative lawmaker’s constituency office.

“We sold 100 handguns, or almost our entire stock, in the last three days, since the prime minister announced the freeze,” she said, showing off her nearly empty handgun cabinet.

At DoubleTap Sports in Toronto, a similar scene unfolded. Owner Josko Kovic said that the government announcement “created a panic, and people are now rushing out to buy handguns”.

“Almost all stores are sold out, including me,” he said.

This is an entirely predicable response to Trudeau’s gun grab, even though pistol owners in Canada are already subject to some incredibly draconian provisions. I’m sure that there are now thousands of new handgun owners in Canada who might never have decided to buy a pistol if it weren’t for Trudeau telling them they would soon no longer be able to do so legally. In demanding these sweeping gun bans, the prime minister has only stoked interest in the firearms in question, as the long lines at Canadian gun stores demonstrates.

Gun shop owners interviewed by AFP unanimously decried the freeze, which must still be passed by parliament.

“This measure is only going to hurt legal gun owners,” Lavigne said, adding: “It’s not going to reduce any of the crime because the bad guys don’t follow the rules.”

Darryl Tomlinson, owner of Canadian Gun Guys in Winnipeg, said that he worries for the future of his store and shooting range, as well as the social network of members.

“This handgun measure is going to take away livelihoods and break up communities,” he said.

“It’s a Catch-22. We’re busy now, but I fear we’re going to be put out of business in the fall,” Tomlinson said of the week’s sales boom.

That’s a legitimate fear as well. Trudeau’s Liberal Party has declared that law-abiding and responsible gun owners are to blame for the country’s increasing violent crime, and I doubt that many gun owners in Canada believe that even these new draconian measures will be the last restrictions enacted in the coming years. Still, even the prospect of an outright ban on handguns in the future isn’t stopping Canadians from Vancouver to Halifax from purchasing one right now, and as long as Trudeau’s “freeze” on handgun sales is still a proposal and not the law, long lines and empty store shelves are going to be commonplace across the country.