This spring, Canada’s federal government announced a massive ban on a wide range of firearms, regardless of their intended sporting/tactical/hunting use. At that time, the feds played up the move as important in the fight against crime. Now, we’re getting pushback on that idea, from the RCMP’s union. A statement from the National Police Federation (NPF) says the government’s gun ban diverts resources from more effective crime-fighting measures.
The gun ban issued May 1, 2020, was supposedly a reaction to April’s arson/shooting rampage in Nova Scotia. After 22 people were killed, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet used the tragedy as the supposed reasoning behind banning dozens of restricted and non-restricted firearms. Ban guns, and bad guys won’t have them—that’s the government’s justification.
The ban/buyback plan was pushed through via Order In Council, not with parliamentary debate, and the process has been fraught with missteps, including banning coffee brands and websites. In recent days, Freedom Of Information requests have revealed the Nova Scotia killer’s firearms were procured illegally, mostly through the US, making Canadian bans irrelevant. Government paperwork also showed the government was aware of the firearms’ origins before issuing the Order In Council.
Now, the National Police Federation says Canadian law enforcement needs more help fighting crime, and that the Order In Council is diverting resources. The Federation opens its position statement on Canadian gun violence with these words on the cover: “The National Police Federation (NPF) supports an evidence-based approach to advancing public safety and the prevention of gun violence in Canada. To this end, we strongly advocate for government to implement appropriate enforcement strategies, best use of available resources, legal and legislative reforms, accountability in judicial actions, and proper management of financial resources to achieve and enhance public safety.”
Moving into the body of the statement, it doesn’t take long to see the point the Federation is trying to make. On Page 1, we get this: “The 2020 “assault” or “assault-style” firearms ban does not alter the status of handguns in Canada. In fact, “assault” or “assault-style” is not a legal weapons classification in Canada – they are colloquial terms to describe high-power and rapid-fire guns (often used by the military) that are mostly already banned in Canada.” It seems police understand the issue better than federal politicians.
Page 2 brings us a few comments on the challenges Canadian police face when dealing with firearms used in crime. Then, we get this statement: “Costly and current legislation, such as the Order in Council prohibiting various firearms and the proposed “buy-back” program by the federal government targeted at legal firearm owners, does not address these current and emerging themes or urgent threats to public safety. The statement also points out the OIC doesn’t address actual criminal activity, or firearms smuggling, or illegal firearms proliferation: “In fact, it diverts extremely important personnel, resources, and funding away from addressing the more immediate and growing threat of criminal use of illegal firearms.”
On Page 3 we get a call for action, and the NPF pulls no punches. First, the statement calls “for the best use of legislative powers to effectively address crime reduction, gang diversion, safe communities, secure borders, Canadian enforcement agency integration, and cross-border safety of the public and all police officers.” In other words—it’s time for leaders to stop dithering, and pass laws that address the problem.
Second, the NPF says RCMP’s Border Integrity Program needs more funding. This way, LEOs can shut down weapons pipelines from outside Canada.
Third, the NPF “calls for funding that enables law enforcement to properly address crime prevention rather than towards the ongoing monitoring of unrelated restrictions on licensed and regulated firearms owners.” Instead of cracking down on PAL holders, some of the most carefully-vetted people in Canadian society, police say they want more funding to fight criminals.
Finally, the NPF says it “supports evidence-based policy changes regarding licensing, mandatory safety training, safe storage, and registry of civilian firearms that meet Canada’s high standards for legal firearm ownership.” If you want to make laws, the police say they want good laws that are proven to be effective.
Impact on Canadian firearms owners?
So—what does this all mean for Canadian shooters?
The National Police Federation is no namby-pamby, small potatoes organization. It’s a massive cross-Canada police org, with 20,000 RCMP offers in its membership. We’re not talking hick backwoods sheriffs from Hazzard County here. This is an important body of police officers, and its opinion should count for something. If the NPF says the OIC ban is a bad idea, then the government should pay attention.
That’s not saying the Liberal party will change its position, but this statement might influence the other parties in Parliament. This statement, on its own, won’t change anything, but it might help others in power see the issue more clearly. Police say they lack the resources they need, existing resources are misspent, and laws don’t address the real problems. Maybe that will change, with sensible statements like this.