Response to Federal Engagement – an examination of a ban on handguns and assault weapons in Canada

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – October 30, 2018

Surrey, B.C. – The BC Wildlife Federation is responding to the Government of Canada’s engagement process, which is open to the public until November 10, 2018. The public can participate in an online survey or send in an email with feedback on the issue, as the federation is doing.

 The BC Wildlife Federation is opposed to further limiting access by law-abiding, licensed firearms owners to:

  • Handguns; and
  • Semi-automatic firearms used for hunting.

Flawed Online Survey

The Online Engagement Survey is not considered a scientifically valid and legitimate survey instrument and any data collected lacks validity and credibility.The survey states that“The Government of Canada has committed to getting handguns and assault rifles off our streets.” It is illegal to carry a gun in Canada so this “commitment” eliminates any need to restrict law-abiding firearms owners further since their guns are not on the street, to begin with. The BCWF has chosen not to participate in the survey and has provided feedback via the email submission process.

Flawed Definition of Assault Weapons

The definition being used in this process is– “In general, assault weapons are semiautomatic firearms with a large magazine of ammunition that were designed and configured for rapid fire.” Since large capacity magazines are prohibited in Canada, then “assault weapons” as such are already banned in Canada.  If magazine capacity is ignored, this definition could encompass 3/4 of all of the firearms in Canada.

Many semi-automatic firearms in Canada are currently classified as “unrestricted” if they do not look like military assault rifles.  Others are classified as restricted or prohibited just because they look like military assault rifles, even though there is no difference in functionality. 

Assault weapons are military grade firearms that are capable of both automatic and semi-automatic fire.  As such, they require high capacity magazines and barrels designed to sustain high rates of fire over extended periods.  These firearms have been banned in Canada for decades.

Flawed Targets

Canada has a gang problem, not a gun problem. Criminal violence is driven by a small number of repeat offenders, not by the millions of Canadians who legally own firearms. For this reason, high-quality, peer-reviewed research by criminologists and economists have consistently shown that firearms legislation focused on general ownership fails to reduce the rates of criminal violence.

In 2016, Statistics Canada reported there were 223 firearms-related homicides; the bulk of the which (141 of the 223) were gang-related. As well, there are many instruments available to commit murder for those so inclined. Statistics Canada reports that knives are used about as frequently as guns to commit murder. See Homicide in Canada, 2016.  Reputable research indicates that gang crime is driven by smuggled firearms that are part of the illegal drug trade. Analyses of guns recovered from criminal activity in Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver and the Prairie Provinces show that between two-thirds and 90% of these guns involved in violent crime had been smuggled into Canada. 

Find this research in the full submission by Gary Mauser, “Bill C-71 is a Red Herring; Submission to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security on Bill C-71.” 

Read the Full Submission Here.

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