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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).Listen
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.
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.
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?
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
- CCFR website
- Gun Debate. Ca
- Canadian Press (via Global): S Levitz: Dec 3/17: poll-ban guns in urban centres
- Liberal Party Canada- gun control
- CTV News Vancouver: Comparing Canada’s gun laws to U.S
- Canadian Shooting Sports Assoc: ten myths
- Vancouver Sun: R Shore:Sep 5/13: hunting brings in $350 million to B.C