Firearms owners say most Canadians are completelly unaware of Canada’s strict gun laws

Gun store Montreal: Firearms owners say most Canadians are completely unaware of Canada’s strict gun laws and so can't provide reliable answers to any poll on gun control issues.
Photo Credit: Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press

Gun control: More restrictions targeting wrong people?


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Guns and gun control have long been a highly contentious issue in Canada.

There are about two million licensed firearms owners in this country practising their hobby and sport while adding billions of dollars into the economy annually.

Anti-firearms lobbyists say there are too many guns, and too many “dangerous” guns, and it’s too easy to get guns.

The present Liberal government has promised to bring in stricter controls and regulations on legal ownership of guns. Firearms owners say that’s nonsense and more restrictions on them will do nothing towards reducing gun violence from people who have no intention of obeying laws anyway.

Tracy Wilson is vice-president of communications for the Canadian Coalition for Firearms Rights (CCFR).

Tracy Wilson is a spokesperson for the Canadian Coaltion for Firearms Rights
Tracy Wilson is a spokesperson for the Canadian Coaltion for Firearms Rights © supplied

Not only do hunters spend on guns and ammunition but also related supplies, clothing, restaurants, hotels, guides, fuel, and so on, and help employ thousands of people. This does not include recreational sport shooting (target/skeet), and competition shooters.

Wilson says more restrictions will only end up hurting the economy by making it harder for gun owners to practice their hobbies and sport.

One of the most contentious – and ongoing – issues in Canada was the so-called Long Gun Registry (LGR). After costing literally billions more than originally claimed costs, it was scrapped by the previous Conservative government.

Proponents say it was a valuable police tool and helped reduce violence and deaths, especially against women. Opponents say this claim is false, there was no evidence it saved any life, and that the vast money could have been spent to fight gang violence, hire more border guards to prevent illegal guns from slipping in to the country, or other measures which would save lives.

Hunters and other firearms enthusasiast pump billions of dollars into the economy and keep vast numbers of people employed directly and indirectly related to their hobby. They say more restrictions target responsible owners while ignoring the real problems in society.
Hunters and other firearms enthusiasts pump billions of dollars into the economy and keep vast numbers of people employed directly and indirectly related to their hobby. They say more restrictions target responsible owners while ignoring the real problems in society. © Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press

A Superior Court judge in Ontario ruled against a women’s group trying to save the LGR saying there was no evidence to support their claim that the registry provided extra security for women.

There are also claims by gun control advocates that the previous Conservative government greatly weakened gun control laws. Firearms owners say in fact there were virtually no changes made to the previously existing laws, other that the scrapping of the LGR, and elimination of the actual paperwork to get an authorisation to transport a restricted firearm like a pistol. That authorisation is now included as a portion of  the “restricted” licence. Where and how restricted firearms can be transported did not change.

Wilson says these AR style rifles are not *assault weapons* which have full auto capability. No assault rifle can be legally owned by a privae person in Canada, and the big looking magazines are pinned so they can only hold a maximum of five bullets. Any more than that would likely result in confiscation of the gun(s) and serious criminal charges.
Wilson says these AR style modern sporting rifles are not *assault weapons* which have full auto capability. No assault rifle can be legally owned by a private person in Canada, and the big looking magazines are pinned so they can only hold a maximum of five bullets. Any more than that would likely result in confiscation of the gun(s) and serious criminal charges. © supplied

Advocates for more control want to ban such things as the AR (Armalite Rifle) style of gun, by calling it an “assault rifle”.

Wilson says there are no assault rifles allowed in private hands period. An assault rifle has the capacity for automatic fire, which is banned in private hands in Canada.

She says although these modern sporting rifles look similar to the assault rifles of the military and police (aka “patrol carbines”), the semi-auto function of these rifles available to the public in Canada makes them no different in actual operation than a “typical looking” semi-auto hunting rifle or shotgun with a wood stock.

There’s also the issue of not understanding the severity of Canada’s gun laws compared to the U.S. which people very often extrapolate to Canada. Wilson says it’s not easy to get a gun legally in Canada. One has to take mandatory courses, with police background checks and signed affidavits from spouses and ex-spouses, employers and so on but Canadians and people in the media just don’t know that, nor the fact that certain types of guns are banned outright.

Polls are skewed

She notes that when polls ask the public opinion on gun control issues, they are necessarily skewed. As the vast majority of Canadians don’t know our current strict laws, she asks how can they be expected to give reasonable answers on gun control questions?

Young people learn how to use guns properly and learn to respect them. They learn it’s not like some video game.
Gun clubs teach young people how to use, handle, and store guns properly and also to respect firearms and realise their potential for harm if improperly used. Young people learn it’s not like some video game © supplied

She says it’s easier for politicians to target legal gun owners in the name of public safety rather than dealing with actual issues of people with psychological problems, poverty, religious or ethnic hate issues, illegal guns availability and so on.

Wilson says firearms owners are held to a higher standard than the rest of the public, where even a minor infraction can result in confiscation of your firearms. She also says because she owns handguns, which are in the restricted class, her name and those of all “restricted” owners, is checked electronically by police every day.

She says targeting the approximately two million legal gun owners for the actions of a few is not right and adds that more regulation and restrictions on legal gun owners won’t solve any societal or security issues as they’re not the ones committing crimes

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31 comments on “Gun control: More restrictions targeting wrong people?
  1. Flac says:

    CBC please do your job properly! The principle guidelines for interviews are:
    Advance Work- Do research on the interview topic a, not only so you can ask the right questions and understand the answers, but also so you can demonstrate to the you have taken the time to understand the subject.
    Prepare carefully, familiarizing yourself with as much background as possible.

    In hearing your questions you are not aware of the stringent guns laws, daily intrusion to privacy via checks, loss of liberties (no warrants searches) and right as a Canadian citizen. We are the MOST responsible and law abiding safety trained citizen…
    We are hunters, sport persons ect not GANG MEMBERS or disturbed individuals causing issues on the street .Look at the real statistics. Report them!
    The politicians, Media, police, RCMP, ATF and CBSA should focus on how thousands of illegal firearms enter the country by criminal organizations. You need to focus on the real causes of person that takes outrage on a particular person or group.
    When a person is motivated to kill anything can be used as a lethal weapon.

    You CBC also need to focus and objectively report of the real issue of gun crime and society. SO get informed, ask the right question and DO YOUR JOB CORRECTLY! Stop the ease media consumable popular narrative and focus on the right difficult issues.

  2. Jason says:

    Some have said there is hope for the CBC as a result of this article. No, one honest story does not a change make.
    The CBC will continue with its misinformed unbalanced reporting as long as firearms owners do not take the time to complain -with facts- to the cbc ombudsman.

  3. Ken Shotton says:

    Why is it the law in Canada that any felony committed with a firearm is supposed to automatically add three years to any sentence and the judges refuse to apply lot to the sentence? A prime example is the woman who stole a shotgun and attempted to rob where she worked in Manitoba theft of a firearm and attempted robbery with a firearm are two different felonies but no additional time was added! However if I own an illegal clip for a gun I can get up to ten years in jail! This makes no senseKen Shotton

  4. Arpad Dobi says:

    I was checking out your site. I like what I see so far. Money’s tight at the moment, so I can’t get a membership yet. I expect to within the next month or two. Do you back or support initiatives at the local level? Sometimes a little knowledge or local help is needed to get things going at the local level.

    I’m curious why as shooting organizations, do we not put up public announcements in the local papers reminding gun owner the regulations they must follow. Not only do you do a few gun owners a service, as some owners (may not be enthusiasts) and may not know the laws. It also becomes an educational piece of information for the public. Put it in as a public service announcement. It may even be done for free as a public service. After all, you are trying to inform and remind firearms owners to obey the laws. It could also be a good way to educate the public.

  5. Rene Albert says:

    Most Canadians realize that in the event of a major catastrophy/terrorist attack, our governments would not be able to protect its citizens. Why?…because all of our limited armed forces, polices, etc would be assigned first and foremost to protect governments, major infrastructures, etc.

    For the rest of us, we would be left to defend ourselves…and since most Canadians don’t have any guns it would be total kayos and anarchy. That’s why so many people are now considering getting a gun, simply for protection…

  6. Pete says:

    If we, as gun owners, don’t get the air time and honest news coverage that is so desperately lacking then this persecution will never stop

  7. Mario says:

    Overall, I’d say this is a good article and surprising for where it’s coming from.
    There’s hope for the CBC yet…

    All point are very good. Outing more punitive and restrictive measures on someone like me, will do absolutely nothing to enhance the security of the general public. I, like millions of other law abiding Canadians are not the problem as has been echoed for a very longtime.

    If the anti-gun lobbyists are looking for more punitive and restrictive measures, then start by bringing back the death penalty for murder. Start by removing early parole and increase the length of penalties for violent crimes (with no parole) You do the crime, you do the time. This will go a long way to making it safer for citizens.

    Having said that, there is absolutely nothing anyone can do against someone intent on harming or killing others as has been the recent case of trick and knife assaults (Australia this past week). Making it more restrictive for me, WILL NOT keep you any safer from these people.
    More focus on mental health issue will help alleviate that issue.

    Having said all of that, illegal opiates in Canada now kill more people by almost 10 fold. Why are people not completely incensed about this??
    Again, no parole, 25 year sentence for dealing this stuff would start to dent the problem.

    Put the focus in the right place for the right reason.

  8. Neil Batchelor says:

    And this after I had finally dispaired of ever seeing a fair and balanced article on firearms from any CBC affiliate. Maybe there is hope after all.

  9. Marc Jampolsky says:

    Solid report overall…
    A couple errors…
    “elimination of the actual paperwork to get an authorisation to transport a restricted firearm like a pistol”

    Should be… Conversion of that paperwork from a separate piece of paper to being included on their existing firearms license


    “An assault rifle can have automatic fire,”
    To … An assault rifle has…

  10. Dan Belisle says:

    Good, well written article. Thank you.

  11. Mike alberton says:

    It is true, that what you do not understand, you fear and firearms are exactly that for the majority of the public. Politicians love fear because it’s easy to garner support and in turn votes. The key issues are just what the article states, criminals, gangs,illegal firearms, and smuggling have a much greater impact on public safety than law abiding firearm owners yet we are made the scapegoats in this struggle and its unfortunate because public safety is truly not what politicians strive for, simply employment through voters. Society needs to be educated on current laws perhaps then they would realize, we’re not the “bad guys”.

  12. Mike Jelly says:

    I absolutely agree with Tracy. It’s the uneducated on current laws that make uneducated laws .

  13. David says:

    “Anti-firearms lobbyists say there are too many guns” <– Quantify this please.

    "too many “dangerous” guns" <— Yes, Firearms are dangerous. That is why those who have the permission to possess a Firearm in Canada take courses, practice and have to be responsible.

    "it’s too easy to get guns." <— Qualify this please. For those who have permission or those who are Criminals?

    "The present Liberal government… …on legal ownership of guns." <— Who are these people? Law abiding Canadian Citizens have the Permission to Possess. This means the Federal government has stated that we own property in Canada? Please clarify.

    "restrictions on them will do nothing towards reducing gun violence" <—- Criminals…. bad people do bad things. PAL / RPAL holders are not causing the problems.

    If I understand correctly (I'm not a lawyer), Canadian Citizens do not own property. The government has granted the privilege to possess property. These privileges can be revoked by the government.

    Criminals are by definition, people doing bad things.

    Firearms can assist in facilitation of dangerous outcomes if handled incorrectly or with the intent to cause harm / damage. Knives, automobiles and matches fall within the same scope of concern.

    Anyone conducting a poll should be held accountable for the wording and being sure a clear question has been asked. In not doing so, they are IMHO, doing more then lying. They are garnering support from the unsuspecting public under false pretenses to push an agenda possibly subversive to one or more segments of our population.

    The politics should be taken out of Firearms issues and responsible laws that can be enforced put in place. The focus of these laws should be targeted at Criminals, not law abiding Canadian Citizens.

  14. Doug Rodenbush says:

    An excellent interview affording Canadians the opportunity to see the real facts regarding gun laws.
    We can not blame the general public for the misinformation that they have been force-fed by organisations like the coalition for gun control when the skewing of the facts is reinforced by the mainstream media and government.
    I believe that the CCFR’s mandate to provide factual education to the general public is a service that is long overdue and still grossly underrepresented by the media in general as they continue to espouse the anti-gun crowd’s inflammatory rhetoric so seeing our national broadcasters giving Tracey Wilson the opportunity to set the record straight on a small portion of the problem is as step in the right direction and much appreciated.
    It is said that “knowledge is power”. If we allow the Canadian public to access the knowledge they require to make informed decisions and form opinions based on facts and not propaganda they will be able to effect laws that will truly make our streets safer by imposing meaningful sentences to those that break the laws while not being a detriment to the law abiding firearms community. That will knowledge will not just make them feel a lot safer, it will be shown to make them a lot safer.
    We will have effective gun control in Canada when the criminal element is held to the same standards as the law abiding firearms owns and prosecuted with the same vigor that the legal system uses when they go after a licensed firearm owner who forgot to renew his permit or misplaced a piece of paper.
    If you want more information on the facts, go to and educate yourselves. It’s the best thing you can do for your own peace of mind and the law abiding community as a whole.

  15. A. Fitzgerald says:

    Great story CBC about this. Very objective and well balanced. Something that the CBC seems to be lacking lately is objectivity.

    I learned a lot, especially from the lady interviewed. It is great to have someone and an organization to let us, the public, know more about this.
    As a result of this article, I have now come to realize what a ‘White Elephant’ gun control is and how it is and has wasted money that could be far better spent in other areas as suggested by the lady. (Something I find ironic, these gun owners/people are checked every day on the police computer. I wonder if they do that to others in Canada, paedophiles, suspected spies, criminal’s etc.) Maybe they should do this with politicians as well!

    I totally agree with her that the majority of us in Canada are un-informed about what gun control is already in Canada and how strict it is. The press always pushes the negative side of guns, especially using US stories.

    One thing I would suggest in addition to what the lady says about the public needing to be better informed of this and the rules etc. I totally agree with this, but would go further and say that ALL politicians and people involved in reviewing, recommending, implementing gun related laws etc should also be better informed.

    Maybe the lady and her organization should attempt to educate these people as well. I challenge her, her organization and the reporter and CBC to advance this.

  16. Ralph Kierstead says:

    Thank you very much for this factual article pertaining to firearms. So very often these days the media seems to send out reports that are seemingly not based on facts. It is very refreshing to see you actually explain what firearms owners in Canada are subjected to in order to enjoy our hobbies and passions. I, as a law abiding Canadian gun owner, very much appreciate this. Please continue to shed light on this topic so that other people can see that we aren’t the problem. That resources and energy should be spent on criminals and gangs.

  17. Evan Koziel says:

    Very informative. Thank you CBC for doing a well researched firearms piece based on fact not fear mongering and misinformation and half truths.

    Thank you Tracey Wilson for the education and respect you give to people looking to learn about this topic. We couldn’t have a better spokes person.

  18. W.T. Anderson III says:

    I agree with this completely. I would ask that anyone who wants to ban or further restrict firearms in Canada to please review all of Canada’s firearms laws before making a judgement call. Thanks.

  19. Dave Williams says:

    Those who demand more restrictions on legal gun owners in Canada don’t understand how tight the current restrictions already are; partly due to not being educated/informed on the topic & partly due to misinformation spread by the media as well as the government & lawmakers themselves.

    “Military-style assault rifles” (which, by military definition, are capable of fully-automatic fire) are prohibited for civilian ownership in Canada. The modern sporting rifles people wrongly call “assault rifles” in Canada are simply semi-automatic firearms with polymer parts rather than the wooden parts of a “traditional” hunting rifle, yet they still require special privileges to legally own in Canada.

    To legally possess even traditional hunting rifles/shotguns in Canada requires the person to take a 16-hour course, prove their understanding of firearm safety & laws by passing a written test & a practical test with a minimum score of 80% on each test, undergo criminal background checks, provide character references, and acquire permission from current & former spouse(s)and/or romantic partner(s) before the RCMP will even consider the application. Once a person is licenced, their name is run through CPIC (the Canadian Police Information Centre) database every single day, looking for criminal charges against them.

    Legal possession of handguns or other restricted firearms (which have limits on their use, require registration, & legally require extra precautions for storage & transportation) requires further instruction & testing and more paperwork & background checks.

    Also,there are restrictions on the firearms themselves, including where/when they may be used, where/how they must be stored, where/how they can be transported, how much ammunition they can hold, barrel lengths, etc.

  20. Richard Rhodes says:

    Well done Ms. Wilson, Mr. Montgomery, and CBC. It’s great to see the CBC taking an interest in some factual information about firearms in Canada. Very refreshing to see an accurate presentation of the facts regarding firearm ownership in Canada. Please keep up the good work.

  21. Michael Loberg says:

    It’s very nice to finally see a balanced story in CBC on this. I think the public needs to ask themselves this: if you have to spend a billion dollars trying to reduce crime and to help Canadians, would you rather spend it on a gun registry that does not appear to have any benefit (so says a Canadian court who ruled on that) or spend it on front-line law enforcement officers and equipment and community support programs where it clearly will help? As a firearm owner and supporter of law and order, I know where I want my tax dollars going.

  22. Glenn says:

    Before demanding more gun control people really need to learn how restrictive and arbitrary our current laws are; it is time to stop wasting time and money chasing around the law abiding firearms owners. Forget banning guns, we need to get criminals off our streets.

    • Tony says:

      Not only are these laws restrictive and arbitrary, those who own firearms are actually doing a great job of trying to follow those laws and not fall foul of the enforcers.


    I feel this interview was handled very well by both parties. It was very informative with the proper questions being asked with out leading on to answers that raise more questions. By some of the questions I can see that myself and the general public as a whole are not very informed with the firearms laws and compile a view point from television which from the interview was very different from fact. Great learning experience for me. Thanks for opening my eyes. Lets spend the needed funds on criminals and their access to guns, mental health care and not on a registry that just does not seem to work.

  24. Eric Ripper says:

    Legal gun owners have never been part of the problem and have only tried to be a part of the solution.
    I find it sad and tragic that we gun owners seem to be the only target that the law makers have in their sights in that regard.

  25. Karl Raffelsieper says:

    Ever so refreshing to have a rational discussion about firearms in Canada. So tired of the Media and anti gun lobby vilifying normal, safe, and well vetted Canadians who own firearms and are no threat at all to public safety. It’s about time to focus on the real problem. The criminals, mental health, social inequality. These are the root of gun violence in Canada.

  26. Michel Blain says:

    Excellent article..the point of view which tells of the ignorance of the public relating to the current laws is totally true, and polls suggesting more laws equal more safety for the public is wrong. Education is the key and the money should be spent on targetting gang violence, gun trafficking and mental disorder issues.

  27. Raymond Ayas says:

    Fact: most people have a Hollywood image of firearms and a lot of misconceptions about firearm owners and Canadian laws. Politics is indeed downstream from culture.

  28. Richard Wakefield says:

    “A Superior Court judge in Ontario ruled against a women’s group trying to save the LGR saying *their* (sic) was no evidence to support their claim that the registry provided extra security for women.”

    Who edits this and allows such basic spelling errors???

    • Al says:

      It is not a spelling error, but it does require quotation marks.
      It is a run on sentence.

      There was no evidence <- is correct.
      Their was <- is a grammatical mistake.

      Otherwise, a well reasoned article.

      • Smokinlead says:

        Richard, maybe you should re-read the paragraph. Copied & pasted from article “saying there was no evidence to support their claim”. Looks right to me.

        RCI RESPONSE- the typo was corrected as a result of the earlier note as we try to correct them as soon as possible. Thank you both for visiting RCI and reading the article. Comments are open and welcome on all RCI stories. Typos can be reporting using the “typo” button.