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Column: Finding the balance on gun laws

An opinion piece on gun legislation.
handgun end barrel

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s latest effort to show how little he knows about life in Canada outside of big cities involves handguns.

Trudeau has introduced new gun-control legislation that, if passed, would impose a freeze on buying, importing, transferring and selling handguns. If approved, it would, in theory, cap the number of such guns in the country.

Trudeau’s move has had a number of consequences. For starters, you have to wonder if he expected this would result in a surge in handgun purchases. Many businesses that sell handguns have seen increased sales in the past week. Some people are concerned they might not be able to do so shortly.

Should a handgun freeze be approved, there will be negative consequences for businesses that sell them.

This move will no doubt play well in large urban settings, where many have been calling for an outright ban on these items. And while many are saying the handgun freeze is another over-reach by the federal government, there are a lot of people in urban centres who wish the feds would go even further.

And so the Trudeau government seems intent on alienating people on both sides of the argument.

It’s not easy purchasing a firearm in Canada. I can’t just walk into a local business and purchase one. There are a lot of processes that have to be met. And the laws for carrying a firearm are also pretty stringent.

Let me preface what I’ve said thus far, and what I’ll say in the rest of the column, by telling you I am not a gun owner. I likely never will be. I am not a hunter, although I could certainly see why it would be an enjoyable experience, regardless of whether you get a deer, a moose, a pheasant or whatever else you’re seeking.

Ultimately, with my eyesight, it’s likely in everyone’s best interest that I not be operating a firearm. And I’m likely not an ideal person for an activity in which stillness and quiet are pre-requisites.

Not that long ago, I viewed Canada as having some of the best firearm regulations anywhere in the world. We had measures in place that allowed people to own guns, but there were still restrictions in place that prohibited certain firearms that were not good for the public peace.

You want to own a gun? Good. But to do so legally, you have to check all sorts of boxes.

And we had finally ditched the wasteful long-gun registry, which became a financial millstone for this country.

The horrific shooting rampage that occurred in Nova Scotia in the spring of 2020 has been a catalyst for change. I can’t imagine what the families and friends of the victims of that shooting went through, but stricter gun laws wouldn’t have changed anything. The person who murdered all of those people would have found the firearms regardless.

And it is something we need to be aware of: we can have the tougher gun laws, but there are still people who will find ways to get around them.

It also seems like our government is intent on using recent mass shootings in the U.S. as a cause for having even tougher firearm regulations.

This is not a call for U.S.-style gun laws. The rules in place in the U.S. are atrocious. It’s astounding that U.S. lawmakers can’t seem to find a solution to the mess they’ve found themselves in for decades, and they’re willing to allow more people to die while upholding their “right to bear arms.”

(And with each mass shooting in the U.S., the arguments of the gun lobby get worse. Giving teachers guns and having armed security guards at schools is not the answer. Clamping down on gun owners on some fronts would be a far better solution). 

If you look at the gun crime numbers from Canada from 2013-2019, and compare them to those of the U.S., you see which country had the better laws in place. There is a middle ground to be found.

Unfortunately, our current prime minister seems intent on moving further away from that middle ground, and bringing in more gun laws that only serve to satisfy urbanites who seemingly want to see all firearms banned.