The anniversary of the killing of 14 women at the Ecole Polytechnique school in Montreal of December 6, 1989, once again renewed debate about gun ownership laws in Canada, Quebec wants to create another gun registry, and the federal Liberal government said it would strengthen gun laws.

The anniversary of the killing of 14 women at the Ecole Polytechnique school in Montreal of December 6, 1989, once again renewed debate about gun ownership laws in Canada, Quebec wants to create another gun registry, and the federal Liberal government said it would strengthen gun laws.
Photo Credit: Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press

Gun control in Canada

Recent events in the U.S. and a tragic anniversary in Canada have once again ignited debate over gun control in this country.

Canada has long-established and relatively stringent laws controlling private ownership, use, and storage of firearms, but for some, these laws are not stringent enough. Whenever a tragedy occurs, the media in Canada tend to turn to well-known and media-savvy spokespeople who are members of gun-control lobby groups, and little is heard from hunting or shooting sports groups. In this latter case, when contacted, most are inexperienced with the media and their arguments can get muddled or are sometimes poorly expressed.

Garry Breitkreuz, now retired, is a former Member of Parliament for the federal Conservative Party. During his time in office he was often a voice for reasonable gun laws which provided security and protection for the population but which did not penalize or threaten responsible firearms owners.

Garry Breitkreuz is the former Member of Parliament representing the riding of Yorkton-Melville in Saskatchewan
Garry Breitkreuz is the former Member of Parliament representing the riding of Yorkton-Melville in Saskatchewan

The outgoing federal Conservative party has long been accused by anti-firearms lobby groups of “relaxing” gun laws in this country, and making access to firearms easier. This was primarily through the cancellation of a federal programme known as the long-gun registry (LGR) in which all rifles and shotguns had to be individually registered.  Pistols have been registered since 1934.

Estimates ranged widely as to the cost of the programme, up to as high as C$2 billion, with millions of dollars more in annual costs to maintain it. The then Conservative government said the programme did nothing to enhance personal security and was wasteful. Proponents of the LGR disagreed vehemently saying it was a useful tool for police and for tracing firearms.

Recently the government of the province of Quebec said it would re-instate such an LGR in that province. It estimates the cost to create it would be approximately C$30 million.

An actual
An actual “assault rifle”, the Canadian C7A2. A main difference between assault rifles and “assault look alikes” is that they have an automatic fire function. In spite of claims from some gun control groups, it is not easy at all to convert such firearms to full-automatic, and no records show that any Canadian has ever done so. It would also be completely illegal to do. Also unless “grandfathered” automatic firearms have been banned in Canada since 1976 © Canadian Forces

The new federal Liberal government has said it will not recreate a federal LGR, but will create new gun control laws and remove ‘assault weapons and handguns” from the streets.

Breitkreuz insists that gun control laws were never in fact relaxed by the Conservative government, merely simplified.

He says owners must still go through the same police background checks and paid classroom training as before, and that the rules for handling, storage and transport remain.

The bans on several types of handguns, long guns, and automatic firearms also remain unchanged.

All handguns of the types not banned outright, and certain long guns, are classed as “restricted” and cannot be purchased or owned without an additional class of licence. This licence requires the purchase of additional classroom courses and testing.

Firearms owners say their side of the gun control debate is based on fact, and actual government statistics while the anti-firearms lobby in Canada is based primary on emotion and opinion. It is however, unlikely that either side of the debate will change its views.

Gov’t Canada- storage handling of firearms

Coalition for Gun Control (Lobby)

Canadian Shooting Sports Assoc.

Canadian Coalition for Firearms Rights

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6 comments on “Gun control in Canada
  1. Avatar Marc says:

    In the abiding gun owners end up paying for criminals and we are over charged.

  2. Avatar Fred says:

    I think that if one looks at the whole picture rationally one would realize that the folks that commit the atrocious acts like that at Poly Techique, etc. don’t tend to register their firearms, and more don’t like to pick targets where there is a chance that they will get shot back at and therefore choose “gun free” zones as their targets.
    Another consideration is, folks like me, who live by a highway outside a small community with limited policing which is nonexistant in the late hours of the night other than an on-call officer are very vulnerable to problems by transients. If someone were to choose to break in and start shooting, by the time the officer on call gets out of bed, dressed, and drives here, all that would be left would be for them to contain the crime scene and protect the evidence until investigators from about a 2 hour drive can arrive to do their investigation. About the only rationelle that those who would see us lose what protection we might have (if we could get to the gun safe, open it, get a firearm out, load it, and then have a chance for themselves and their family to survive) would be to be able to say “At least they died without breaking the law.”

  3. Avatar Roland Hersey says:

    The ones who muddle the debate are members of the media who know little to nothing about firearms, and often what they think they know is wrong. Firearms are going to exist, they are not going to be un-invented. Before firearms existed primacy was held by large groups of physically strong and aggressive young men. We live in a bubble of presumed perfect safety, in some part because armed police and armed military personnel stand by ready to do violence on our behalf.

    There are under 200 murders a year in Canada with firearms, and over 2000 deaths from automobile accidents. Maybe we should put a speed regulator on all cars so none can exceed the posted speed limits. Maybe we should make it law that no unnecessary use of motor vehicles will be tolerated. And all vehicles will weigh close to the same, as SUV’s cause too many deaths when colliding with sub-compacts. Any use of cell phones in cars should get a automatic 5 year sentence.

    Canada had a relatively lower homicide rate than the U.S going back before there was much difference in gun laws. There has been historically many differences in culture, demographics, and other factors though. The only gun laws we have that do any good are the background checks, and the rest is our relatively peace loving culture. The remainder of our gun laws are a mishmash of arbitrary rules that follow no logical, reasonable pattern or strategy. They are simply to discourage gun ownership by law abiding Canadians, and put all control in the hands of government bureaucrats.

  4. Avatar edward kennedy says:

    The name of leftist loonyism has always been “tokenism” to support a corrupt agenda that is the enemy of freedom and justice.

    The LPC has always been just that, and armed with a new pseudo leader who among other things is bringing into the nation unvetted economic refugees, legalizing weed, and cutting many tax breaks for Canadians, can be counted on to impose additional harm on the nation by fascist and ridiculous gun laws that benefit criminals and terrorists, and harm the grass roots population.

  5. Avatar Robert says:

    I believe that most “Public” want a solution to gun deaths in Canada. The
    problem is there is absolutely none in the case of a mental person who we fail
    to detect and has a legal permit as in l’ecole polytecnique. The government failed
    to detect that mental illness, failed to show up before 14 women were killed and
    did not allow anyone else to be armed to protect them. In workable cases, such as
    gang wars, the police know who are carrying guns, but their hands are tied by the
    laws of search and seizure. This is the “Public’s” fault, and should allow it
    for guns only. If the gang member knows he will get automatic 5 years, will he carry ??? I don’t think so.

  6. The gun laws in Canada are pure bullshit, with magazine restrictions, prohibited firearms and no right to self defence. All because a few gravedanceing lobbyists like Heidi Rathgen and others who managed to badger a gutless government into passing useless laws that help, save or protect no one and that only serve to make life miserable for law abiding gun owners. These gravedancers have made it their life’s mission to force gutless governments into passing more useless laws to prevent something that has only happened once in 26 years. And once in 26 years not because of useless laws, but because it was an anomaly when it happened in 89. A lunatic that hated women acted out and the rest of us have had to pay for it for years. And the rest of us have done nothing wrong. Don’t smear all of us for the actions of a few.