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JASON ST. MICHAEL: Ottawa overshoots target with ill-conceived gun ban

Heather Ford shoots an AR-15 at a Women Shooters of P.E.I. workshop under the watchful eye of a member of the P.E.I. Rifle Association.The workshop was held at the range at Alexandra Point.
Heather Ford shoots an AR-15 at a Women Shooters of P.E.I. workshop under the watchful eye of a member of the P.E.I. Rifle Association. The workshop was held in May at the range at Alexandra Point. - Contributed


While Parliament was suspended due to COVID-19, unprecedented gun control measures were implemented via an order of council. 

This “assault weapons” ban is a meaningless, pejorative term used by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his anti-gun Liberals to outlaw any and all firearms based on their half-baked impressions of threats to public safety.

In Canada, it is unacceptable that one deranged individual was able to take the lives of 22 people in Nova Scotia, but this man was able to do so despite the “stringent regulations and comprehensive legislation” that already exist regarding firearms in Canada. The shooter did not have a firearms licence, meaning the multiple guns he used in the massacre were obtained illegally, and that Trudeau’s gun confiscation order would not have stopped him from his heinous attack.

Nonetheless, Trudeau and Public Safety Minister Bill Blair created an absurd ban that not only outlaws modern sporting rifles such as the AR-15, but also “ranch rifles” upon which our rural residents and outdoorsmen rely. Large bore rifles, often antiques, are also outlawed, even though they are mostly bolt-action rifles used for hunting — far from what any Canadian firearm enthusiast would call an “assault weapon.”

Specific regulatory language in the ban concerning bore diameter originally could have banned millions of 10- and 12-gauge shotguns. If it weren’t for groups like the Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association (CSAAA), the Canadian Shooting Sports Association (CSSA), and Safari Club International (SCI), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) may have never issued a statement clarifying that they would not include these shotguns in the enforcement measures of the Liberal government’s ban.

But the threat of a sweeping shotgun ban still looms. As the CSSA notes, a new rule that regulates muzzle energy still puts some 12-gauge shotguns in a legal grey zone of possibly being banned. This shows once again the prime minister’s ignorance on the matter.

Gun stores are also facing the same confusion as the list of banned firearms keeps surreptitiously growing and is now at 1,500 variants of firearms. The liability issues are astronomical because these businesses may have sold a legal firearm one day only for it to become illegal the next. Trudeau and Blair have continued to create more problems and confusion for Canadians by allowing more firearms to be added to the list without notice or justification. 

From a budget perspective, every Canadian carries the burden of the problematic “assault weapons” ban, according to Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux. The government estimates that the confiscation and destruction of newly criminalized firearms under the “fair compensation” plan will cost at least half a billion dollars.

However, the final cost could surpass that figure, possibly climbing past $1.5 billion, according to some academics. Canadians do not need more wasteful spending. These immense costs would only pile onto a national budget deficit of $252.1 billion that has been exacerbated due to the economic fallout of COVID-19.

Driven to outrage by the ban, more than 224,000 Canadians have signed a petition calling for the immediate repeal of the order related to confiscating firearms. Trudeau and Blair must listen to the thousands of Canadians who would rather see their government return to “evidence-based decision making” and focus on legislation that “will target criminals, stop the smuggling of firearms into Canada, go after those who illegally acquire firearms.”

If not, many more Canadians will start to question whether Trudeau and Blair are either too inept to comprehend the scope of these regulations or if they are using this time of turmoil purely for crass efforts to seize political advantage.

Jason St. Michael is director of operations for the Canadian chapter of Safari Club International, a U.S.-based organization dedicated to preserving the freedom to hunt.

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