Before the debate takes place, some are decrying the spread of false information that has inflamed Canadians.
After all the gun deaths Toronto, and other cities in Canada, suffered in 2018, there was plenty of call for action including a full-blown handgun ban in this country. It appears the Liberal government might be considering that idea.
Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction Bill Blair has spent months talking to Canadians and recently during a Sherbrooke, Que., cabinet retreat, he said, “We’ve completed that study and we’re compiling the results and I’ll be going before the cabinet in the coming weeks with results of that review and some recommendations.”
But before the debate takes place, some are decrying the spread of false information that has inflamed Canadians. “There is simply no evidence that there is a worsening problem among lawful Canadian handgun owners, the people targeted by the proposed ban — in effect, held up as partially responsible for tragic deaths and senseless crimes,” writes Matt Gurney on Global News.
Gurney cited a Canadian Press report that said the gun problem was increasingly traced back to Canada and not the U.S., which was commonly thought in the past. Eventually the wire service corrected their error, said Gurney, but not in the most transparent way.
“Canadians have spent four months having a debate, including public consultations, based in part on bad information. Information that was known to be bad months ago, but that went uncorrected until two days after Christmas, when news readership is typically way, way below usual levels.”
Gun owners argue that a handgun ban is not supported by most Canadians. “Canadians recognize it isn’t your local IPSC (International Practical Shooting Confederation) shooter or duck hunter shooting up the streets of Toronto or Surrey. If you’re trying to gauge the flavour for a ban with everyday Canadians, the gig is up. Sensible Canadians want credible work on crime, something you just aren’t willing to suggest,” writes Tracey Wilson of the Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights.
Wilson cites a recent petition against the ban that quickly garnered 35,000 signatures, more than another one calling for the ban, which amassed only 13,000 names despite “a fresh new website and the adoption of a hashtag #TriggerChange has been added to this campaign, but has since been completely hijacked by gun owners, sick of the constant collective blame assigned to them by the aggressive anti-gun lobby groups.”
The anti- or pro-gun debate is a lot more nuanced than many Canadians might thing, argues John Geddes in a recent article in Maclean’s. “Blair has been assigned by Trudeau to examine ways to curb gun violence. (Liberal MP Marc) Serré says his caucus of more than 50 rural and partly rural Liberal MPs recognizes the difficult balancing act Blair must execute. In Toronto and Vancouver, an outright handgun ban might sound sensible; in Timmins, Ont., or Campbell River, B.C., not so much.”
If a full ban was implemented, critics say it is not the magic bullet to solve all Canada’s ills, especially with our close proximity to the U.S.
“Canada shares a very long and very porous border with the most gun-saturated country in the history of human civilization,” said Tristin Hopper in the National Post, speculating what the ban might look like.
Existing owners would be grandfathered in, most Canadian-origin gun crimes would be prevented but crime would not drop, said Hopper about the potential new handgun-free landscape.
For his part, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders is not concerned about the debate, however, as he mentioned in a year-end speech to media.
When asked about the handgun ban Mayor John Tory has been supportive of, Saunders said, “I’m interested in people who are the motivated to shoot other people. If anyone wants to put any tools to reduce that, I’m supportive of that.” But he added, “diminishing gun violence and the motivation behind it, has to be intelligence-led.”
That intelligence might come from another task force, led by Regina Chief Evan Bray, that will hopefully “find solid data on what’s happening with firearms across the country, and to dig into solutions with academics and gun experts.”
The group was formed by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, who are on the front lines in the battle against crime. In Regina, according to Bray, handguns are not the big issue, but instead it is long-guns and sawed-off shotguns that are most seized by police.
The debate, for better or worse, is on and the issue of a full ban might become a ballet-box point in the 2019 federal election, set for Oct. 21.