Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has sent ministerial Mandate Letters to his cabinet, giving direction to each member of his cabinet, and providing clear and concise goals in the period leading up to the 2019 election.

Within the Mandate Letter penned to Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale is the clause:

“Take action to get handguns and assault weapons off our streets by working with the Minister of Justice to strengthen controls on hand-guns and assault weapons, including by repealing some elements of Bill C-42.”

Similarly, the Mandate Letter written to Minister of Justice and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould is the following:

“Support the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness in his efforts to repeal key elements of Bill C-42 and implement our commitment to reduce the number of handguns and assault weapons on our streets.”

And finally, most tellingly, is the phrase from the Mandate Letter produced for the Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction Bill Blair:

“Support the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness on the passage of Bill C-71, and work together on additional policy, regulations or legislation that could reduce crime involving the use of firearms and keep Canadians safe. You should lead an examination of a full ban on handguns and assault weapons in Canada, while not impeding the lawful use of firearms by Canadians.”

The conservative party has provided the following response:

Ottawa, ON – Conservative Shadow Minister for Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Pierre Paul-Hus and Deputy Conservative Shadow Minister for Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Glen Motz, released a statement today following the release of Minister Bill Blair’s mandate letter for Border Security and Organized Crime:

“Conservatives know that the safety of Canadians is the highest responsibility of any government. However, we also know that whenever Liberals attempt to crackdown on gun violence, they end up going after law-abiding firearms owners.

“Firearms owners are already highly vetted. By focusing on them instead of criminals, by ignoring data that shows gun related crime correlating to gang activity and weapons smuggling, and by refusing to address cross-border gun smuggling, the Liberals are failing to keep Canadians safe. Nowhere in the Minister’s mandate letter is any mention of any of these issues.

“Further, the Liberal’s current gun legislation, Bill C-71, still does nothing to address the problem of gun crime. In fact, there is absolutely no mention of the words “gang” or “organized” crime anywhere in the legislation.

“The Liberals have also failed to target criminals by reducing the penalty for gang-related crime to a fine and by not appointing the number of judges needed to keep criminals behind bars.

“They refuse to acknowledge that most guns used to commit crimes are illegally sourced. Justin Trudeau must come up with a fact-based, rational solution for reducing violence in the Canadian context. He has had three years to do so, and has failed.

“Canada’s Conservatives will vigorously oppose a blanket firearms ban on law abiding, highly-vetted Canadians and will instead focus on criminals who illegally obtain guns and use them to commit violence.”

BACKGROUND:

  • Statistics Canada found that 54 per cent of firearms homicides were gang-related.
  • 78 per cent of violent crimes in Canada did not involve a weapon.
  • According to Statistics Canada, the general population is 3 times more likely to be involved in firearms crime than a licensed gun owner.

QUOTES FROM STAKEHOLDERS:

“I’m not sure if a complete ban is the answer. ” RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki, August 18, 2018

“It would be unmanageable and unfair to the majority of handgun owners who obey the law and always use their guns safely. Let’s effectively deal with the criminals that do not obey the current criminal law.” – Chris Lewis, former OPP Chief, August 18, 2018

“… Even if we make them more illegal than they already are, criminals will still come into possession of them, and still use them for illegal purposes.” Adam Palmer, CACP President, August 15, 2018

Editorial: “A Full Ban” without impeding lawful use?

Ignoring the simple fact that possession of a firearm is already a criminal offense (against which a gun license is simply a five-year exemption), that the Trudeau government are willing to explore a full ban on handguns and “assault weapons” (which we interpret to mean any and all modern semi-automatic firearms such as AR-15s, M14s, VZ58s, SKS, and various shotguns) “while not impeding on the lawful use of firearms” indicates that this government does not view the enjoyment of the aforementioned types of firearms as “lawful use.” After all, a full ban on handguns and modern rifles is mutually exclusive of the lawful use thereof by normal Canadians.

Study Timing & Election Games

It is highly likely that the examination pitched by Trudeau in his Mandate Letter to Bill Blair will not be completed this year. The ramifications and broad impact of such a gun ban would demand at least a modicum of due diligence on the government’s part, or at least the appearance thereof, which means the study results will most likely be released shortly before the writ drops for the 2019 election. As such, chances are good that concurrent to Mr. Blair’s “study,” the Liberal Party of Canada will be evaluating responses to such a gun ban in order to better orient their campaign.

In short, the outcome of the study will most likely not be predicated on the effectiveness of gun bans on gun violence in Canada, but rather the effectiveness of gun bans at the ballot box. As the Conservative party statement notes, key stakeholders with plenty of experience have already stated a gun ban will not provide relief from the current spate of gun violence. Bill Blair himself has said “I am familiar with the way in which people intent on criminal and violent criminal activities can at times obtain handguns both legally and illegally, and overwhelmingly they do it in an illegal fashion.” Hence, we can determine that Blair’s study is little more than a political machination.

If it is determined that a gun ban would serve the Liberal Party of Canada well in the coming election, look for Blair’s study results to find in favour of a gun ban, which will then end up as a Liberal Party plank in the election; forcing Conservative party candidates to occupy the uncomfortable position of refuting the Liberal Party’s study in order to retain the gun community’s support. And as we know, a lie told loudly and frequently enough oftentimes becomes indecipherable from the truth in the court of public opinion, and requires tremendous effort and resources to dispel… see also: “most crime guns are domestically sourced.”

What can you do?

As always, support Canada’s gun rights organizations, and take action yourself by contacting your local MP and ensuring that they understand that Canada’s gun owners will not stand to be vilified and victimized by the encroachment of ever more gun regulation as a way to pander for votes. We will heartily and vocally support Members of Parliament that recognize the futility of additional gun regulation, and oppose the waste of both time and valuable resources any government spends enacting further gun regulation, while at-risk youth, gang prevention, and mental health programs go underfunded and our existing gun laws are ignored by criminals due to a lack of front-line officers needed to enforce them.

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