Canadians aren’t quite as quick to defend their gun rights as Americans. In fact, Canada doesn’t really acknowledge gun rights at all. They don’t seem to have a version of the Second Amendment that shields them from a predatory government. They’ve been fortunate thus far to have anything resembling gun rights at all, to be fair.
However, the Canadian government’s latest gun control movement may have some unintended consequences.
The federal government’s new gun-control legislation, Bill C-21, which was introduced in the House of Commons on Tuesday, has been roundly criticized for lacking any real teeth and targeting legal firearm owners, instead of organized crime and the underground weapons trade, which are the real sources of gun violence in Canada. While all this is true, it will also provide a further disincentive for otherwise law-abiding Canadians to purchase guns through legal channels.
If you wanted to install a wood-burning fireplace but thought city hall might ban them in the near future, as Montreal did in 2015, would you file a building permit and make sure all the paperwork was in order? Not likely. You’d probably find a contractor who you could pay under the table.
It would be disingenuous to suggest that those who are looking to acquire a firearm in the future would not make a similar calculation. A while back, in pre-pandemic times, some friends asked me if I wanted to take the firearms safety course with them so we could get our licences. My answer was a resounding “no.”
It’s not that I don’t like guns. I went to a shooting range in Texas last year and had a ton of fun. I’m also a firm believer in the right to self-defence. But in Canada, wannabe gun owners have to jump through a plethora of hoops, including taking the safety course, filing an application that includes a passport-style photo and a $60-$80 registration fee, as well as submitting to criminal, background and reference checks. Even more paperwork is required if you want to actually own a restricted weapon.
All this information is logged in the Canadian Firearms Registry, meaning that if the government ever decides to further crack down on legal owners, or there is a shooting a few blocks away, you can expect police to come a-knocking. And all this just for the “privilege” of having the means to protect yourself, and your family, without relying on the good graces of the state.
In other words, after a certain point, those inclined to buy a gun even for lawful purposes may decide to skirt the law.
That actually tracks with what we’ve seen time and time again here in the United States. In locales where it’s difficult to get a firearm or there are onerous restrictions on them, some will obtain firearms illegally even though they’re not otherwise criminals themselves.
See, people will follow the law up to a point. The moment they find the law to be too much of an impediment to what they want to do, they do a simple risk assessment. Are the odds that I get caught doing this, along with the potential punishment, really worth doing what I want?
Don’t believe me? Then tell me why prostitution is illegal in 49 states, yet these states still have prostitutes? If there was no one hiring these women, they’d seek some other line of work. People hire them despite them being illegal because they figure the odds of getting caught plus the potential punishments aren’t enough of a disincentive.
The same holds true with drugs. We’ve had a drug problem in this country for decades, despite most of the favorites being outright banned.
With that in mind, why wouldn’t people eventually decide that it makes more sense to skirt the law than to obey it? We’ve long said that if guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns, but the corollary to that is that some people will willingly become outlaws in such an instance.
And this is Canada, where they’re known for being far more rule-following than we rebellious Americans.
Just imagine what would happen here.