In the past few months, I have had a number of debates with pro-gun advocates on twitter over a gun control laws. While I enjoy debate, I felt it was taking up too much of my time and I wanted to focus on other things, so I decided to block some of the more rude twitter users and muted others, because I feel that this blog is the best platform to lay out exactly what I believe. I will preface this by stating that I am open to some compromise, within reason. Guns are primarily created to kill, therefore I believe they need to be heavily controlled, so I absolutely oppose any move that could result in looser gun laws or the normalization of gun ownership. I would love to live in a world without guns, but I realize that is totally impractical; instead, I would like to see a gun control regime that treats gun ownership as a privilege and is only permitted when there is a legitimate reason. I will discuss the changes I think need to be made based on three classifications: non-restricted, restricted, and prohibited weapons. While I believe Bill C-71 is a step in the right direction, it doesn’t go far enough, and I would rather our gun laws be too strict than not strict enough.
Most firearms in Canada are non-restricted, which is what most rifles and shotguns are classified as. Since the majority of gun owners use firearms for hunting and pest control, this classification makes sense. However, I would recommend the government make the following changes:
- All semi-automatics with centre-fire that have detachable magazines should become prohibited, and over a 2 to 5 year period be confiscated with monetary compensation.
- Require one’s family doctor to sign off that the gun owner has no mental health issues, as well as ensure their family doctors are made aware if their patients have firearm licences so they can request to have them revoked if mental health issues develop.
- Gun owners should have two non-family member references and be rigorous in the follow ups on these references, as nowadays they are seldom contacted.
- Any spouse or partner they live with or have lived with in the past decade must be contacted and sign off, so as to keep firearms out of abusive homes.
- If a person is refused a firearm licence, the reason will not be given nor can it be appealed, but they can re-apply after 1 year. This will increase the likelihood of those in abusive relationships to alert authorities that their partner or ex-partner shouldn’t have a firearm, as some may be afraid to tell authorities for fear of retribution. Much the same as visitor visas, prospective gun owners will simply get a letter saying it was either approved or rejected, with no reason given.
- Require a person to state the reason they wish to own a firearm, which many other countries do, but is not the case in Canada currently. Those who do not have a legitimate reason will be denied a licence. This will help keep firearms out of the hands of paranoid types and help ensure legitimate uses. Three acceptable reasons to hold a firearms licence are as follows:
- Hunting – in this case as long as one qualifies, it will be a shall issue
- Pest Control – as long as the municipality or zone in that municipality of the property where the firearm will be stored allows for the discharge of a firearm, it will be granted, provided they meet all other qualifications. If located in an area that does not allow the discharge of a firearm, it will be refused (i.e. approved for a farmer, but refused in most urban areas).
- Target shooting – the person must be a member in good standing of a federally licenced shooting range.
All other reasons such as self defense, desire to protect from tyranny, one’s right to own one, etc. will constitute an automatic refusal.
Restricted weapons constitute most handguns and some semi-automatics. I believe all centre-fire semi-automatics with detachable magazines should be moved from the restricted category to prohibited. I support a handgun ban, but I am open to a compromise here, whereas I am not when it comes to weapons like the AR-15. Such weapons are not needed for hunting, they are not an Olympic sport, and serve no purpose other than to rapidly kill a lot of people. Even with the five magazine limit, the rivet can easily be removed. I support a ban on handguns but in understanding that some like to use them for target shooting, gun ranges would remain open, but people would have to leave their guns at the range rather than take them home. This means fewer opportunities to use them for suicide or if in a domestic dispute. The one exception would be competitive target shooters, who would need to take their guns to other competitions and would receive an exemption. Nonetheless, while a British style or Japanese-style handgun ban would be ideal, I could accept a compromise similar to what Australia, Germany and others have done. If there is a compromise, I do however think the minimum needs to be done:
- One must be a member of a gun club for at least 2 years before they can purchase a handgun
- Municipalities will have the right to ban handguns if they so wish.
- An owner of a hand gun must attend at least 12 shooting events or will forfeit their licence (this will ensure only true target shooters, not those who just want to own a gun are licenced)
- Those with RPAL licences will be limited to a maximum of 5 handguns, and anyone who wishes to purchase additional guns must get written permission from the Public Safety Minister. This will help prevent straw purchases and also reduce the stockpiling of huge arsenals which are dangerous in many circumstances, such as if the home is broken into.
Prohibited guns, as the name suggests, are forbidden. This category includes fully automatics, some semi-automatics, and some handguns. As it stands now, prohibited simply means such weapons cannot be sold (in Canada) and when the licence holder dies, the firearm is forfeited., However, the firearm is not taken out of circulation and can be transferred to another prohibited licence holder. I believe due to the dangers of these weapons, confiscation, not grandfathering, is necessary. For currently prohibited weapons, holders would have 2 years to turn them over for compensation, and any guns not turned over would be seized without compensation and the person would be arrested. Any future firearms moved to the prohibited category would give owners 2 years from the day it is moved into the category to surrender them.
Canada’s gun laws are not unfettered like in the United States, and is one of the reasons why we don’t have the same problems they do, thankfully. However, Canada’s gun laws can still be improved. I am very concerned about some gun rights groups like the CCFR, CSSA, and NFA. We cannot prevent them from existing, but it is important the government makes clear that the desire to normalize gun ownership, have looser gun laws, or bring a gun culture to Canada will not happen. As we’ve seen in the US, it is very tough to undo once it does happen.
4 thoughts on “Why Canada Needs Tougher Gun Laws: Part I”
You are really all over the place with this. On one hand you say Canadian gun laws are why we don’t have problems on the other you talk about such drastic measures that rob people of their property and any semblance of autonomy. Which is it. Is this country so rampant with gun violence that we can’t be trusted or that the already restrictive firearms laws are a good balance between trust and responsibility. Some of your points even suggest you are woefully unaware of the current process of getting a firearm (spouse and former spouse needs to sign off). You also don’t seem to articulate why the ar-15 is as bad as you think but something like the bcl-102 is not on your radar (you can look it up. It’s a hunting rifle ). But I will let you know that hunters use far more powerful weapons to hunt than the ar-15. My suggestion to you would be to stop by a range ask questions talk to some people. That may help. As far as your criticism for the CSAA and CFRA those are both fantastic organizations that provide information and safety training to thousands of Canadians as well as standing up for the firearms community when we can’t. While you at it I’ll leave a link for you. It’s MADDs stats on impaired driving. Which show it far out weighs the damage done by firearms in this country. I’ll await your crusade to ban alcohol soon https://madd.ca/pages/impaired-driving/overview/statistics/
Canadian gun laws are good relative to the US, but could be even better if made tougher as I have suggested. I might not know all the minute details, but know enough and enough about other countries to realize our gun laws can be improved. I prefer our gun laws be too restrictive than too lax. As for robbing of property, property rights do not mean you have the right to own whatever you want, simply means any confiscation must involve monetary compensation and when it comes to autonomy I don’t believe owning a gun is a fundamental right and nor do our courts or most Canadians. As for former spouse, I suggest they be contacted as I am aware they are, but if one is refused they should not be given the reason and also they will be notified their response will remain confidential that way they are more likely to admit if their partner is a threat instead of going along out of fear.
AR15 has been used in multiple mass shootings in the US, the idea we should even entertain allowing a weapon that has been used multiple times is plain nuts. It has a detachable magazine and although limited to five, the rivet can easily be removed and it only takes two seconds to change magazines. You can still hunt with many other less harmful weapons. As for BCL-102, I also think that should be prohibited. Any semi-automatic with a detachable magazine should be banned and I don’t care if it is a hunting rifle or what it is for, you can hunt with a regular single shot rifle, it is caliber, not number of bullets it can fire that matters. If you cannot hit your target in one shot you should work on your target. As for going to the range, I research things and I believe the gun lobby are putting their own self interest over the common good. In terms of CCFR and CSSA, they sound way too similar to the NRA in their rhetoric. I believe owning a gun is a privilege not a right and one should have to show a demonstrable need for one as mentioned above, not just own one because they feel it is their right. CCFR supports in their policy section legalizing fully automatics, eliminating magazine limits, and allowing conceal carry. Those are dangerous positions which have failed miserably in the US and I am not interested in seeing it in Canada.
As for alcohol, I agree it is a dangerous product and that is why we regulate it and in fact Canada has some of the most restrictive liquor laws in the developed world whereas for guns we do not. So I look less at ideology and rather best practices from across the globe
We absolutely do have some if the most restrictive gun laws in the world. Simply because we don’t ban mostly everything as you suggest doesn’t mean firearms owners aren’t trained and vetted more than any other Canadian and to tie that into my point it’s easier to get alcohol than firearms in this country and one kills significantly more. You absolutely refuse to show what epidemic your ideology is trying to solve. You readily admit Canada has a low homicide rate yet refuse to acknowledge data that shows less than 1 percent of homicides are committed by PAL holders and around 30 percent of firearms used actually sourced within the country are used Illegally, so what problem are you trying to solve, because by ignoring causes of preventable death that are greater than firearms you instantly lose credibility that you’re just trying to save lives. You also need to stop pointing to the US. Not on AR 15 has been used for mass murder in this country. Not one, and they’re used in the because it’s a popular platform not because it’s extra deadly. It’s like saying geez all these Honda civics are used in drunk driving cases, we should ban Honda’s. And again your opposition to CSSA and CCFR is solely centred around your opposition with tying American gun culture to Canada. Those two organizations promote this shooting sports with safety as well as supporting our voice in parliament. They are solely funded by the 3 million gun owners in this country and to dismiss them as some sort of fringe group is irresponsible and insulting, you almost sate we don’t deserve s voice because of yout feelings. Even though we need this voice because people like you continue to chip away at our hobby. And now you’re upset we’ve said no more, we’ve given enough for thirty years we’ve given in to more and more and now we are at a balance of responsibility and public safety and it’s still not good enough for you, and I call you for what you are. A hypocrite unless I see as much energy from you in banning cannabis alcohol fatty foods cigarettes and all the other things that kill in greater numbers than firearms. You’ve based your ideas solely on feeling and not liked around you for the facts, you look to the US to inform your ideas on guns in Canada at the same time touting gun free countries all the while ignoring the fact the actual homicides rates remain almost unchanged. People like you is why I need the CSSA and CCFR
Please see my responses.
“We absolutely do have some if the most restrictive gun laws in the world”
Not true. Amongst OECD countries, our gun laws are near the middle or somewhat on the loose side. Much stricter than the US, but not as strict as Australia, Germany, Japan or UK.
“Simply because we don’t ban mostly everything as you suggest doesn’t mean firearms owners aren’t trained and vetted more than any other Canadian and to tie that into my point it’s easier to get alcohol than firearms in this country and one kills significantly more”
Alcohol is not designed to kill, guns are. I am not advocating banning all guns, just some, otherwise I do a cost-benefit analysis. Should we allow fully automatics, bazookas, or rocket launchers for properly vetted people? I believe you need to draw the line somewhere and that is where I draw it.
“You readily admit Canada has a low homicide rate yet refuse to acknowledge data that shows less than 1 percent of homicides are committed by PAL holders and around 30 percent of firearms used actually sourced within the country are used Illegally”
Our homicide rate is 1.68 which is lower compared to US which is 5.35, but it is higher than every Western European country save Belgium, and higher than Israel, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand so when comparing to peer countries our murder rate is on the high not low side. Likewise some murders such as Ecole Polytechnique and Quebec City Mosque shooting were legal gun owners so we should be making efforts to try and prevent future shootings not accept them as the price of being able to own a gun. Never mind more guns means more places to steal them thus I want to see overall gun ownership rates fall so things like this happen less often https://globalnews.ca/news/4691844/firearms-stolen-southern-saskatchewan-gun-collector/ .
“You also need to stop pointing to the US. Not on AR 15 has been used for mass murder in this country”
Canadians are just as capable of committing violent acts as Americans so I believe in taking proactive action. UK never had one with a semi-automatic until the Hungerford Massacre in 1987 and Australia never had one with an AR15 until the Port Arthur Massacre in 1986. Why wait until it happens, why not take proactive action. And those countries both banned semi-automatics after and in both cases they had conservative governments too. When an airplane crash happens anywhere in the world, we make changes to prevent one from happening here, we don’t use the excuse oh it’s never happened in Canada.
“And again your opposition to CSSA and CCFR is solely centred around your opposition with tying American gun culture to Canada. Those two organizations promote this shooting sports with safety as well as supporting our voice in parliament. They are solely funded by the 3 million gun owners in this country and to dismiss them as some sort of fringe group is irresponsible and insulting, you almost sate we don’t deserve s voice because of your feelings”
They favour allowing fully automatics if properly licenced, conceal carry, and eliminating magazine limits. These are extreme positions that I doubt even most gun owners (who mostly own hunting rifles) support. We are a democracy and a loud noisy minority shouldn’t override the wishes of the silent majority who want tougher gun laws.
“Even though we need this voice because people like you continue to chip away at our hobby. And now you’re upset we’ve said no more, we’ve given enough for thirty years we’ve given in to more and more and now we are at a balance of responsibility and public safety and it’s still not good enough for you, and I call you for what you are”
You can still hunt and what about our right to live? Your hobby doesn’t trump the right of the rest of us to be safe. Until we have the most restrictive gun laws in the developed world, I think those wanting even stricter have a very strong legitimate case and if the gun lobby wasn’t so rigid and dogmatic maybe a compromise could be found, but your side isn’t interested in it. You care more about your non-existent right to own a gun.
“You’ve based your ideas solely on feeling and not liked around you for the facts, you look to the US to inform your ideas on guns in Canada at the same time touting gun free countries all the while ignoring the fact the actual homicides rates remain almost unchanged”
Actually I’ve based mine on academic research not what the gun lobby says. If you look at the chart below, you will notice countries with most permissive gun laws have highest gun murder rates, those with most restrictive have fewest https://www.cnn.com/2017/10/03/americas/us-gun-statistics/index.html it is the fifth one.