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This morning, during his daily press briefing, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked about the rumoured “military-style assault weapon ban,” specifically if the timing of this ban was related to the Nova Scotia shooting and if the guns used in the shooting would be subject to the ban. His response was non-specific, but he did say that his government would be making an announcement around their commitment to “strengthen gun controls” and ban “military-style assault weapons” in “the coming days.”

Although details are thin, a provisional list of firearms has been floated around various media outlets, citing that the following firearms are expected to be banned:

  • M16, M4, AR-10 and AR-15 rifles.
  • Ruger Mini-14s.
  • Swiss Arms Classic Green carbines.
  • M14 rifles.
  • Vz. 58 semi-automatic rifles.
  • CZ Scorpion EVO 3 carbines.
  • Beretta CX4 Storm carbines.
  • Sig Sauer MCX and Sig MPX carbines and pistols.
  • Robinson Arms XCR rifles.

In addition, sources have reported to other media outlets the inclusion of the following “types” of firearms to be banned:

  • Firearms with a calibre (gun barrel diameter) of more than 20 mm. For example, a grenade launcher. 
  • Firearms capable of producing muzzle energy of more than 10,000 joules. 

According to sources speaking to the CBC, these firearms were selected based on being modern, semi-automatic rifles fed by way of detachable box magazines, that sold in large volumes (over 1,000 units).

Some questions

However, this is where things get somewhat weird: In order to determine a firearm’s relevancy based on those criteria, the Ministry of Public Safety reportedly used 2012 long-gun registry data, and increased the numbers by 25% to extrapolate out an expectation of how many firearms of each type there may be in 2020.

However, the Sig MCX family of carbines, and the CZ Scorpion Evo 3 pistol-calibre carbine were not available in Canada in 2012, with the Sig MCX launching in 2015 and the CZ Scorpion Evo 3 in 2018. Furthermore, the Sig MCX and MPX are restricted as variants of the AR-15; the first firearm on the prospective list. Likewise, the Swiss Arms Classic Green is but one specific sub-model in an entire family of rifles. Although somewhat minute, these small discrepancies would seem to indicate that this list was not obtained from someone familiar with the firearms program, or FRT. Coincidentally, however, many of the questionable inclusions on this list to appear on so-called “hit lists” published by Canadian anti-gun groups.

What we can infer

However, regardless of the validity of the list, Trudeau’s statement this morning does make it clear that there is some movement towards further restrictions to be placed on Canadian gun owners. It is being reported that this restriction will take the form of an Order-in-Council, precluding any parliamentary debate or due process, and also meaning that this restriction (whatever form it may take) will not be addressing the oft-mentioned buy-back scheme. Due to parliamentary procedures, OICs can be used to regulate, but in order to initiate a buy-back program the government will need to procure funding for the program, and that cannot be done by way of OIC. Furthermore, due to strained police resources and the mandatory social distancing required due to COVID, it would seem unlikely that the pending announcement will hinge around the immediate and mandatory surrender of firearms. Thus it seems likely to be a change in designation, with further details to follow as COVID abates.

What you need to do

Write to your MP. We must communicate to our representatives in parliament that this arbitrary and unilateral prohibition of firearms is both undemocratic, and will serve no purpose to further public safety. To that end we have included a couple of letters (long from first, short form below) that you are welcome to use:

Long form:

Dear [your MP’s name here],

This morning, Justin Trudeau reiterated his promise to ban various firearms in Canada, and said that an announcement pertaining to that promise could be expected in “the coming days.”

As a gun owner, this concerns me greatly; all Canadian gun owners are run through daily criminal record checks and must use, store, and transport our firearms in compliance with numerous regulations. We apply for authorizations to transport, pay licensing fees to renew our licenses, and are among the most regulated population of Canadians extant… and yet we are continuously vilified by this government, and now seem on the cusp of bearing the responsibility for the actions of criminals who do none of these things, obtain their firearms illegally through theft or smuggling, all so that they commit acts of violence that would result in any lawful gun owner having their license immediately suspended and their guns seized.

Various police chiefs and commissioners have repeated stated that further gun bans will not reduce the amount of gun violence in this country while Crown prosecutors and legal experts have spent over a decade warning Canadians that the current spending on our legal system is inadequate. Youth advocates and those specializing in marginalized populations and gang violence repeatedly call for social buttresses in the form of additional spending on outreach programs and interventionist tools. Mental health experts have long stated that it is a lack of funding for mental health programs that is killing people, and that gun control does not provide the answer when someone is suffering afflictions like addiction issues or suicidal ideation. And veterans suffering from injuries and PTSD have been told they were asking for more than our government can give. Even the existing gun control regime in Canada is underfunded; there likely isn’t a gun owner in Canada that can’t recite the Canadian Firearm Centre’s telephone hold message from memory because we’ve all spent hours listening to it.

So why is this government considering even more regulation to be the solution to a problem that could be better solved by simply providing the resources and assets those experts are asking for? No amount of gun control would have stopped the shooting in Nova Scotia; his guns were illegally obtained, the warning signs were prevalent and regular, and the 12-hour rampage that ensued would only seem to indicate that front-line police in the area did not have adequate resources and assets to mitigate the damage caused.

So, as my representative in government, I ask you to oppose this unilateral, undemocratic, arbitrary, and ill-advised move on the part of the Prime Minister. It will only serve it disenfranchise gun owners like myself, increase partisanship in our nation, and consume taxpayer dollars that would be much better spent on increasing police budgets, adequately funding the judiciary, and providing much-needed social supports. 

With an election writ likely coming sooner rather than later in this minority government situation, it is crucially important that taxpayers like myself feel respected and heard by our representatives, and to be blunt, I will consider your response heavily when the next writ drops. I have taken the extensive and necessary steps to prove to the government and Canada that I can safely own firearms, and will support any candidate that respects that. But I will also put considerable effort into ensuring any individual that does not do so is summarily replaced by another candidate that does at the first available opportunity.

Short form:

Dear [your MP’s name here],

This morning, Justin Trudeau reiterated his promise to ban various firearms in Canada, and said that an announcement pertaining to that promise could be expected in “the coming days.”

As a law-abiding, licensed gun owner I do not appreciate even the slightest insinuation that I should be expected to surrender property (or have it purchased from me with my own tax dollars) in response to criminals using illegally obtained guns to commit acts of violence. I am subjected to a daily criminal record check to ensure that I’ve committed no violence myself the day before, and follow numerous regulations and laws dictating the safe storage, transport and use of my firearms. 

I will be blunt: History tells us that minority governments are short-lived, and when this outbreak abates, there will likely be an election. And the response provided by MPs like yourself to queries such as this will likely dictate where a huge amount of Canadian voters, volunteer hours, and donation money goes.

So, it’s safe to say that if you oppose this rumoured unilateral, undemocratic prohibition of property owned by hundreds of thousands of law-abiding taxpayers in whatever way possible, you can expect a tremendous amount of support from myself and the other 2.2 million gun owners in this country. Please, as my representative in Ottawa, do not allow this to pass.