Canada’s New Gun Ban Will Cost Lives, Not Save Them

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Canada was shaken this year when 22 people died in the country’s worst mass shooting. The perpetrator had a police uniform and a near perfect mock-up of a patrol car, allowing him to pull some of his victims over and execute them them at random.

His rampage spanned 13 hours, and police have been criticized for using Twitter to warn the public rather than send an AMBER Alert-style message. The husband of one victim has said his wife would still be alive had she been made aware of the danger.

While authorities have been tight-lipped about the case, they did confirm that the killer was ineligible to own firearms and got all but one of his weapons from the US.

He also had a history of violence, having brutally beaten a 15-year-old boy in 2001. The victim described being repeatedly stomped and hit with a crowbar. Rather than being charged with attempted murder or assault with a deadly weapon, his attacker was given a $50 fine and nine months probation.

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“I think there should have been a little bit more justice there,” the victim has been quoted as saying.

Further, the Toronto Sun has reported that two people–including the shooter’s own father–reported him to police for having illegal firearms, with no action being taken.

Given the scale of this tragedy, it makes sense that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would propose reforms, and there’s plenty of room for improvement.

For example, he could focus on the botched police response and ensure that the public is better alerted during future emergencies.

And considering that shooting wouldn't have happened if the killer had been incarcerated, Trudeau could push for an overhaul of Canada's notoriously lax justice system. Figures from the US show that a significant portion of murderers have at least one prior violent conviction, so locking up violent offenders would have a preemptive effect.

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That's been a particularly effective approach when it comes to gun violence, as jurisdictions that have focused on catching armed offenders and hitting them with long prison sentences have seen shootings go down.

The prime minister could also do something about Canada's porous border. A 2018 report from the Toronto Police Service found that 70 percent of the weapons it recovered had been smuggled from the United States. Despite this, border officials seized just 751 firearms during the 2017-18 fiscal year, with most of them being taken from American tourists, not violent criminals.

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However, Trudeau isn't focusing on any of these things. Instead, he's announced a sweeping ban on "assault-style" firearms. Current owners will be permitted to keep their guns for a two year period, after which they must be surrendered through a so-called buy back program. While the prime minister insists that such weapons have no use for hunting, his ban includes a special exemption for "Indigenous persons exercising Aboriginal or treaty rights to hunt."

Of the more than 1500 hundred firearms on Trudeau's ban list, most are variants of the AR-15 platform. Despite it being on the market for over half a century, Canadian gun control advocates cannot point to a single murder committed with a legally owned AR-15.

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This is likely due to the fact that Canadian gun owners are already subjected to a stringent licensing process that includes an extensive background check:

All told, the confiscation plan is expected to cost in excess of $600 million. Something else it will cost?

Lives.

Government resources are limited, particularly after the coronavirus pandemic. And every dollar spent disarming law abiding firearm owners is one that won't go towards stopping criminals.

For example, the estimated price tag for Trudeau's gun grab is 20 times the amount of new funding for border security that he touted in 2018--an initiative that actually does make people safer

So would using the money to separate criminals from society. Unfortunately, Canada's judges don't have much appetite for doing that: a Toronto-area man was recently charged with the attempted murder of a police officer on the same day that he was let out of jail due to fears over coronavirus. Other examples of serious offenders getting a slap on the risk aren't hard to find.

Then there's the manpower that enforcing the ban will use up, which is important considering that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are already understaffed and often slow to respond when answering emergency calls.

Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights president Rod Giltaca has spoken of how honest people are being punished for the actions of a monster. He's right, but the fact is, Canadian gun owners aren't the only ones who are going to suffer under Trudeau's new policy.

Canadian crime victims will too.

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