As we approach a national election, in 2019, the issue of even stricter gun control has come up, along with potential bans. even as a new gun law is being debated in Canada which puts further restrictions on legal gun owners. (Paul Chiasson- CP)

The Gun debate in Canada: Where lies truth? Part-1

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The first of a series of responses to claims about guns in Canada

Canada is facing a federal election in October 2019. With an apparent increase in criminal use of guns, the gun control debate is set to become an election issue with the anti-firearms rhetoric ramping up.

Several statements have been made by the governing Liberal Party of Canada, and by gun-control lobby groups even as the Liberal government mulls a complete ban on handguns and possibly also on so-called “assault weapons”.

Firearms hobby and sporting advocacy groups are not often heard from in this issue.

Their responses to such public statements shows a strong difference to what appears to be those apparently unsubstantiated claims being made by various government and police officials, and gun control lobby groups.

Firing blanks from real revolvers at balloons, the growing sport of cowboy mounted shooting would likely be devastated with a handgun ban. Thousands of businesses across Canada, their, employees, and even tax revenues would also be negatively affected if such a ban was imposed (Ulli Hoeger-via CBC)

Such statements have been refuted by a limited number of mainstream investigative media, but nonetheless these statements continue to be repeated by those officials, gun-control lobby groups and also by many mainstream media outlets.

Domestically sourced crime guns

With the theory that banning private ownership of handguns will reduce, or even eliminate criminal use, several comments by proponents of such a ban have been made to support this claim.

Canadians have long believed that because of our strict gun control laws, most criminals got guns that have been smuggled in from the U.S.  Some police claim that “crime” guns are now mostly being sourced in Canada.. Various police and other official claims have been made that up to 50 %, even 60% of crime guns now originate in Canada. This is either through break and enter and theft from legal owners or through so-called “straw purchase”.

“It is a fact that the majority of gun-related crimes in our communities are committed with guns that are domestically-sourced” RCMP Inspector Chris McBryan, Vancouver Sun News 2016.

This statistic is from figures compiled by the Provincial Weapons Enforcement Unit of the Ontario Provincial Police. (OPP). (CBC)

A “straw purchases” whereby a legally licensed individual buys a firearm and then sells it illegally on the black market to someone who is unlicensed and so not allowed to have a gun, handgun or other.

“It’s the main source of how firearms are being purchased and how they come into people’s hands on the streets nowadays,” Sgt. Eric Stewart, head of the Guns and Gangs unit for the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT).

These claims have been, and continue to be, widely reported by media and gun-control lobby groups without verification of facts.

QUESTION: How many illegal firearms “crime guns” are actually “domestically sourced” and how realistic is the so-called straw purchase issue?

First an explanation by Nicolas Johnson, editor, TheGunBlog.ca

“Crime gun”:  Any firearm, airgun, antique, starter pistol, toy gun, replica, etc. that police think was owned for crime, whether unlawful possession or a violent attack;. e.g., if a pellet gun or nail gun is used to rob a bank, it’s deemed a “crime gun.”  Also any firearm with serial number removed.

RESPONSE : Johnson adds, “about 31 percent of firearms seized by Toronto police each year are considered “crime guns.”   Toronto police data show the percentage of so-called “crime guns” traced to Canada fell for a second straight year in 2017 to the lowest level in at least four years, contrasting with claims that outlaws are getting more of their firearms from domestic sources.

Only 20 percent of firearms, airguns, toy guns or replicas seized by the Toronto Police Service and deemed “crime guns” were traced to Canada in 2017, the least since at least 2014, according to calculations by TheGunBlog.ca based on police statistics. The earliest year available was 2014.

It is not clear what effect increased restrictions or a ban on handguns would cause for Canada’s Olympic shooting competitors. (via olympic.ca)

More than a third of the so-called “crime guns” seized by Toronto police last year weren’t firearms, and many were never used in a crime, according to an analysis of police data obtained by Dennis Young, fuelling new concern about the reliability of statistics.

The data show 469, or 65 percent, of the 726 “crime guns” seized by Toronto police in 2017 were counted among the three classes of firearms in the Firearms Act: “Non-restricted,” “Restricted” or “Prohibited.” That leaves 35 percent that weren’t firearms regulated by the Firearms Act.

Police use their best judgement when investigating and reporting on complex crimes with imperfect information. But counting non-firearms and non-crimes as “crime guns” makes the data unreliable and undermines trust in police records.

Response:  Dennis R Young (retired RCMP) and Gary Mauser (professor emeritus) and others have researched gun issues extensively, often through access to information (ATIP) requests on government and police documents.

From the website Justice for Gun Owners, “Between 2007-2016, StatsCan reports that only 5% of the firearms involved in homicides were registered and used by someone other than the legal owner to commit murder – this percentage includes thefts as well as straw purchases”

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale who leads the gun-control issue and Bill C-71 with its proposed new restrictions on gun owners has tweeted, “With so many crime guns coming from legitimate domestic sources, we need effective firearm measures that prioritize public safety while ensuring fair treatment for law-abiding firearm owners.” revealed they had no information on stolen firearms whether from private citizens, retailers, museums, police, military or other”.

Presumably legitimate domestic sources means “stolen” from legal owners, or perhaps “straw purchase”.

Canada Border Services Agency shows pistols it has seized attempting to come into Canada (Denis Dossmann/CBC)

Another ATIP request from Mr Young to Public Safety Canada headed by Minister Goodale revealed they had no information on stolen firearms whether from private citizens, retailers, museums, police, military or other.”

Response : Tracey Wilson- VP Public Relations, Canadian Coalition for Firearms Rights

“I attended the Summit on Gun & Gang Violence last March on invitation from the Minister. The resounding issues and complaints brought forth by law enforcement at every level was there was a lack of credible data to verify any of this debate about domestically sourced.

As far as those stolen from legal firearms owners homes – since when is the answer to a victim of crime (theft) to ban them from owning it in the first place?  Is this not victim blaming? Have they completely given up on prevention, crime solving and investigative policing?”

Straw Purchases

“The straw purchase issue is high profile because media chooses to use it as an example of lax gun control laws without any statistical evidence, and with unsubstantiated remarks from some law enforcement officer”. B Hagen, NFA.

An ATIP request from Mr Young to Canada’s national police force, The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) indicated that they could find no documents related to so-called “straw purchases” in their files .

Response:  Nicolas Johnson- TheGunBlog.ca

– Canada’s biggest municipal police force, Toronto, has quoted the same four straw purchasers for more than two years. That suggests it’s not a major issue, or we’d have a couple more names.

– Is it true that a tiny handful of licensed gun owners sell guns illegally? Yes. Does this reflect a broader or systemic problem? No.

– Canada’s firearm-licensing system is highly controversial and of questionable use for public safety, but it has yielded at least one accidental benefit. We have decades of statistics showing that millions of lawful, legitimate gun owners are the closest thing Canada has to a crimeless demographic

Response:  Blair Hagen: National Firearms Association– advocacy group

It is important to remember that the firearms programme and provincial Chief Firearms Officer approve and track all transfers of restricted and prohibited firearms.  They can and do investigate every transfer, they can even investigate the license holder making the purchase beyond routine investigations that are in effect now.

I personally have had many cases where license holders making legitimate purchases of multiple restricted firearms have been targeted for secondary investigation, interrogation by firearms officer and even inspection because of the purchase.   The fact that it happens at all is being used to justify calls for gun bans. It is the extreme minority of illicit purchase and transfers.

There are two issues not being addressed.

The demand to confiscate the property of Canadians because of the risk of theft or illicit transfer. Since when do you punish people who have broken no laws and confiscate their property, and since when are victims of crimes made responsible for those crimes?

Response : Tracey Wilson- VP Public Relations, Canadian Coalition for Firearms Rights

There have been very few cases of straw purchases, and as Mr Johnson (TheGunBlog.ca) stated, they seem to re-use the same ones over and over to prove a point.  Fact is – this is already illegal  and I think we’ve got the CFP failing to follow up on things, likely due to the fact they are already over-burdened with bureaucracy. Wait until C-71*  kicks in and watch them fall apart.  (*The proposed Liberal gun control legislation)

SUMMARY

According to these sources,

  • about a third of “crime guns” seized by police aren’t firearms at all.
  • The claimed number of domestically sourced crime guns stated by the federal government, some police officers, and by gun-control lobby groups is wildly exaggerated at best
  • The claimed number of straw purchases stated by the federal government, some police officers, and by gun-control lobby groups is wildly exaggerated at best

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26 comments on “The Gun debate in Canada: Where lies truth? Part-1
  1. 1 Arm bandit says:

    Wikipedia, type in “Crime in Toronto”. Enough said, a good read for all you new comers to the Big joke!.

    This has been going on for decades, and as Wikipedia states “it been allowed to flourish” and it has! I moved to the GTA over 40 yrs ago and the same gangs, are in the same areas, doing the same old thang!.

    If anybody has caused the spike in violence it’s, the Liberals by legalizing “marijuana” and now the gangs have been fighting each other over the last remaining areas of the GTA. Good job Trudy!

  2. 192.168.0.1 says:

    The majority of gun-related crimes in our communities are committed with guns that are domestically-source

  3. Peter says:

    All men should cut thier penis off to prevent rape. We should take the tires off cars to prevent speeding and drunk driving. Then ban forks and fast food restaruants for making people fat.
    Banning 1 thing wont prevent antother thing from occuring.
    No bans of anything or major restrictions on anything will prevent a criminal from using another thing to committ a crime. When will you Liberal dolts understand that. When will you liberals actualy change the laws to enforce the ones we already have and stop the turn key justice system? Thats how you begin to fix it. How about make gangs illegal. Caught being a member 5 years instant sentence in prision. No turn key no exemptions? You’re in jail for 5 years just for belonging to a gang? Watch how fast the gang atmoshpere changes.

  4. Inky Mark says:

    Just too easy to blame the lawful gun owner, inn the early 90’s OPP study showed that 80% of handguns used in crime were smuggled illegally from the USA. Why do police count toy guns as crime guns? Anti gun folks believe the myth that if you get rid off all the lawful guns, crime and mass shootings will disappear. This is only wishful thinking. No one can legislate the evil out of people.

  5. David J Nagy says:

    Thank you for one of the first honest articles in the media.

    If anyone looks at the criteria for labeling a firearm a “crime gun”, it is purposely designed to inflate the numbers against legal gun owners.

    Thousands of illegal guns coming across the border??? “Sorry, we can’t do anything about it”.

    Yet the Liberal Government continues their propaganda war on legal gun owners to “appear” to do something.

    The PM has thrown away his “evidenced based policy” and is now the school yard bully.

    Going after the easiest target in the room will come back to bite the Liberals just like Paul Martin’s “handgun ban” election platform.

    Be careful Justin, going after the weak kid to impress the rest of your school yard classmates (voters) sometimes results in the bully getting an unexpectedly broken (political) nose.

    Just ask Paul Martin and rural Liberal MPs how the 2006 election went……

  6. Steve Knechtel says:

    So when can we expect to see this excellent report on the National or hear it on the Current ??? I’ll be waiting to see how much play this actually gets.

  7. Stephen F Cormier says:

    My first cousin was shot and killed by her estranged husband, with a restraining order in place!
    It happened at her place of employment, during her dinner break, and was followed with the death of her estranged shortly afterwards!
    The long gun used was a borrowed rifle, non registered, and the shooting occurred at a “government owned, satellite medical centre”, which has never re-opened!
    This weapon, like many other WW-2 weapons, went unregistered until this shooting. I cannot
    say how often it was used to hunt with or if any wildlife officials ever stopped anyone in position of
    this Firearm.
    This PAL system, we ( as all legal gun owners) abide by, isn’t even asked for as a requirement
    to apply for and obtain from our( most) provincial government a …….” Big Game Licence”, or ” Small Game License” ! Why???….
    Now, our hunting regulations have recently been adapted to allow hunting to ages of 16 supervised and 18 unsupervised! Only the RCMP have the power to run a PAL #, to check for authenticity, so therefore the PAL # is seldom asked for by Game Wardens!
    So there are many antique, unregistered WW relics, in the homes of Canadians in Canada.
    Will this C-71 address this issue? I doubt it will! Or will putting more paper between a husband and wife, bring back my ” Beautiful First Cousin and Her Husband” to their 2 children? I also doubt
    that as well!
    I say the time is here to run a ” tighter ship with the laws we have now”! More resources are required to both Police and Wardens in All of Canada. Taking firearms from Law Abiding Citizens or adding more unenforceable rules will not change a single thing!
    I will refuse to put on paper my true feelings of our PM’s agenda!

  8. Ron Tarnawski says:

    The liberal government has taken the view, and published material that identifies all firearms as “weapons”. Every sport shooting and hunting firearms owner I know, calls them “firearms”. There is a vast difference, and for the non-firearms owning community, it is easy to not catch this. I am a member of a Rod & Gun Club in British Columbia and am actively involved in several sport shooting disciplines. My Wife is as well. The point in all this, the federal government should focus on crime and punishment. When a criminal offence is committed, and it involves a firearm, or any other type of weapon (knife, club, chain…etc. etc) the penalty for the offence should be as the Criminal Code of Canada suggests with maximum penalties being applied rather than minimums. Then, or at the same time, governments should be proactively promoting the shooting and hunting sports.

  9. Rudy says:

    For myself owning guns in this day and age is as much a political act as anything, because it is going against a narrative that is overwhelmingly negative in terms of there misuse. This narrative has an agenda and bias that is ill informed and completely ignores a segment of Canadian society that enjoys the sporting use of firearms, they are not a threat to anyone, and recognize the need for public safety to guard against there misuse. In my opinion current laws and pending regulations go far beyond that and venture into the realm of the absurd. Banning certain types of firearms just adds more absurdity onto the shoulders of GOOD people who are just out there enjoying there hobbies and passions in owning, using and collecting firearms. They are not a threat to anyone, but the Liberal Party of Canada is a threat to them. They are cloaking there hostility behind disingenuous public safety rhetoric
    Then there is media in this country that is largely ignorant and uninformed in regards to firearms, or shooting sports in general. They love to cover the irresponsible and criminal use of firearms and paint them in as negative a light as possible. They ignore the honest, law abiding, sport shooters and gun enthusiasts, who by far are the %99 majority of firearm owners. WE are good people and do not deserve stupid, ineffective gun laws that do not address the core causes of criminality. The only thing you have succeeded in is make it harder and harder to enjoy firearms. And you continue to add more ineffective laws and regulations that pander to an ignorant and uninformed general public, to make it look like you are doing something to make them safer. Utter nonsense, its lazy,cheap way of pandering to ignorance at the expense of honest gun owners. I = Easy low hanging fruit.

  10. Phil hewkin says:

    Why are liberals being trusted with gun laws once more? there have been no value for cost assessments, no constitutional reviews to make certain Canadians rights and freedoms are being protected (they are not) with the last rounds of vile gun laws. We all understand the lesson from prohibition of alcohol, and the fact is, GUN CONTROL laws are so over restrictive and prohibitive in CANADA already, and THIS IS WHAT HAS CREATED A DEMAND of black-market guns for criminals in Canada, and it looks like things are about to get much, much, worse. Will airy-fairy pie-in-the-sky politicians stand up and take responsibility for the problem they created? NEVER.

  11. don says:

    gun owners of Canada second class citizens gun owners of Canada living in cities third class citizens

  12. Dan Mancuso says:

    It would be interesting to hear the opinions of law abiding, responsible firearms owners and what they have to say about the ‘government’, or more likely the government’s jack-booted, brown-shirted thug hirelings, coming to steal our legally owned property, by force.
    Would they just give them up or would they fight back?
    Fighting back means the state will have to kill you…so they can steal your property!

  13. Michael Nicolaidis says:

    Where is the integrity in government?
    Given the Liberal smoke and mirror campaign to discredit legal firearms owners ( the salt of the earth law abiding citizens) How can Canadians trust any decisions government makes. In reflection of our southern neighbors 2nd amendment , perhaps the founding fathers identified the deception of individuals, political groups and the like to take advantage of political powers and manipulate outcomes that will disavow any credible adversary and ensure unchallenged results to further their goals without resistance.
    Given the liberal governments lack of trust in Canadian citizens who support freedom, follow the laws, and defend our nation. We Canadians must reject this indoctrination based political mindset before all rights and freedoms are lost forever.
    “Oh what a tangled web we weave…when first we practice to deceive”
    Quote: Walter Scott Marmion
    “He who has made it a practice to lie and deceive his father, will be the most daring in deceiving others”. Quote: Horace

  14. Robert Penner says:

    I would like to say that when i hear about a gun incident locally in which the RCMP respond to that when i dig deeper into the incident i descover that it was a look alike hand gun or an airsoft handgun. The media never has a followup article to state that there was no concern other than a paranoid member of the public seeing what he believed was a gun. To me what we are developing is an americanization of our media and the police forces to report everything to the extreme and respond in the same way.
    Go after the drug gangs and get their guns and most ofthe gun violence will stop in Canada.

  15. Don says:

    Thank you for finally bringing the misdirection and lie to the forefront of the debate. Gun owners are not the problem and are willing to stand on the true record as to how firearms are obtained and used by lawful owners.
    Criminals steal,import illegally and use firearms in unjustifiable ways. Lawful users rarely do as evidenced by the facts.
    With any luck some of what you have published will actually get read by politicians, other news agencies and advocacy groups who constantly scream about facts that are substantiated or even close to the truth.

  16. William McGill says:

    My thanks to those who have collated and published the real facts about gun ownership

  17. Stephen Loughnan says:

    As the northern neighbour of the United States we only have to look to what is happening within the southern neighbour of the United States. Each of the last number of years tens of thousands of Mexicans have been killed by criminals with illegal firearms. Mexico has very strict gun laws. The crime guns are not sourced domestically but rather smuggled mostly from the United States over what most would consider a defended border. Criminals do not respect gun laws.
    To think that the good hard working people at Canadian Border Services would be able to prevent the flow of all smuggled firearms over the worlds longest undefended border is ludicrous. Banning handguns from highly vetted, law abiding Canadian Citizens is indefensible.

  18. Greg Jones says:

    The fact that these politicians and so called experts, police spokespeople etc., who clearly know the difference, find it so disturbingly easy to be so self-serving and deceitful, very upsetting and disturbing. As a legal gun owner and strictly law abiding citizen, I feel victimized…and I don’t like it. I feel like I’m living in a place where evil and corruption are prevailing…and I don’t like that either. We have to find a way to inspire people who support our cause to get vocal and get involved. If we have a hope in hell, we have to be a united front…educate the well meaning ignorant and put the garbage out next election.

  19. Lorne says:

    It is a volatile subject. A recent investigation published in the media concerned fentanyl trafficking/money laundering and organized crime (primary focus Lower mainland BC and China based crime group). One of those targeted is involved in possession and possible sale of firearms. This is purely a criminal operation and known to law enforcement. How does targeting legitimate firearms owners (all currently under the regulatory control of each provinces Chief Firearms Officer) reduce this form of crime? Are there any valid stats as opposed to anecdotal comments?

    It is fairly obvious that offenses are committed involving firearms. Violent offenses are committed using a multitude of instruments and each and all are deplorable. This does not make the firearm responsible for the offense.

    Canada has some of the more restrictive firearms laws in the world with an excellent balance in required training, use and safe storage as well as extensive background information required on application and renewal. The ‘assault weapon’ as defined by magazine capacity is already illegal in Canada with very serious penalties for even being in possession. Although this is Part 1 and there are four sides to every story,(one side, the other side, the political or media side and the truth), ‘gun control’ is an emotional subject and rational thought seems to frequently be lost in rhetoric. Possibly in the search for votes…..

  20. eric allaire says:

    Excelent article.

  21. TARGETING BAD GUYS WITH GUNS
    PETITION TO PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU: SHOULDN’T POLICE KNOW WHERE THESE BAD GUYS WITH GUNS LIVE? We residents of Canada call on the Government to pass a motion making it mandatory for judges when imposing a firearms prohibition order, as part of a criminal sentence, a protection order or restraining order, also make it mandatory for these persons to report any change of address to police and this information be made available to police in a database on CPIC (Canadian Police Information Centre).
    By Dennis R. Young – November 9, 2018 https://lnkd.in/eKnCw4n
    https://www.change.org/p/justin-trudeau-shouldn-t-police-know-where-these-bad-guys-with-guns-live

  22. Marc Jampolsky says:

    All we want is for journalists to act as journalists… Don’t accept force fed information, research it and confirm its validity.
    Then post that and tell us who’s lying.
    All the information and stats here are Canadian and have been verified and you can see them yourself… How about you ask the anti side to “show their work”… What are they using? Are they using Canadian info or are they fudging theirs with American?

  23. Dwayne Cyr says:

    Thank you for the truthful article. God, its about time we had something to offset the steady stream of propaganda and lies that surrounds this issue.

  24. Cole says:

    I can’t thank you enough for this evidenced-based report on firearm crime/legislation/ownership in Canada. Lack of education on the subject is what fuels the anti-gun stance and influences ineffectual legislation targeting a non-existent ‘gun problem’. The more information we can get out to people the more likely the legislation our politicians propose will have positive effect on our country.