Forget motives. The Trudeau government is getting it right on gun control

Posted on June 2, 2022 in Child & Family Policy Context

Source: — Authors: – Opinion/Editorials
May 31, 2022.   By Star Editorial Board

‘The package of gun control measures the Trudeau government unveiled this week is a big step forward from its previous failed effort.’

The Trudeau government, goes a common argument, is cynically taking advantage of public outrage over mass shootings in the United States to push more gun-control measures in Canada.

To which we say: so what? If it takes a jolt of outrage to get the government to act on gun violence, or at least to give it the political cover it feels it needs to act, then so be it.

So rather than dwell on the always-complicated motivations of the politicians in Ottawa, let’s focus instead on what the government is actually proposing.

The package of measures it unveiled this week as Bill C-21 is a big step forward from its previous failed effort in this area.

The last time out, in the spring of 2021, the government completely funked the handgun issue. Amid calls for a national ban on handguns, it instead tried to punt the issue by saying it would give municipalities and provinces the power to bring in bans if that’s what they wanted.

This made no sense since firearms control is the furthest thing from a local issue. So it’s good to see the government finally drop that notion this time. Instead, it plans to introduce a national handgun “freeze” — not a ban — that will bar future sales, purchases, transfers and importation of handguns by anyone across the country.

That’s a step forward. It would cap the number of handguns held legally by Canadians and prevent them from being sold or otherwise moved around. Over time it would reduce the number of legal guns that find their way into the illegal market and end up being used in crimes.

It would not, of course, do away with legally owned handguns or have any effect on the arsenal of illegal weapons that are behind the epidemic of deadly gun crime in so many cities, including Toronto.

That must be tackled in other ways, such as increasing penalties for gun smuggling and trafficking and giving law enforcement agencies more resources to crack down on illegal guns coming across the border. The federal bill proposes action in both those areas.

Likewise, the government seems to have learned something from its earlier proposal for a voluntary national buyback program for assault-type rifles, such as the infamous AR-15 design used in so many mass shootings.

The government now says it intends to bring in a mandatory (not a voluntary) buyback for assault weapons by the end of this year. That’s absolutely right. These “rifles” are not designed for shooting ducks and deer in hunting season; they’re specifically built to kill people, and they have no legitimate place in this country.

There’s more in Bill C-21. It provides for the automatic removal of gun licences from anyone who engages in criminal harassment or domestic violence. And it would create a so-called “red flag” law that would allow courts to order anyone considered a danger to themselves or others hand their weapons over to police.

These are all strong measures, and well worth supporting. But it will take much more than what the Trudeau government proposes in Bill C-21 to address the kind of gun violence plaguing the streets of Toronto and other cities. All levels of government are deeply invested in “guns and gangs” programs, but what’s been done so far obviously isn’t enough.

That, however, is no reason to oppose what the government is trying to do with its latest effort at tightening our gun laws. Nor is the undeniable fact that the government is willing to surf on public emotions generated by events in another country with very different laws.

As they say: whatever works.

Tags: , , ,

This entry was posted on Thursday, June 2nd, 2022 at 12:27 pm and is filed under Child & Family Policy Context. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Leave a Reply