With half measures like these, Canada is clearly not interested in gun control

Posted on February 21, 2021 in Child & Family Policy Context

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TheStar.com – Politics/Opinion
Feb. 20, 2021.   By Heather Mallick, Star Columnist

When will Canada manage to blow up, bury or buy all of the thousands of assault-style rifles hidden in the backrooms of this nation? When will handguns be banned outright? When can Ottawa finally say that it has fulfilled a basic function of government, to protect citizens from violent death?

The gun rampage that killed 22 people (13 of them women) in Nova Scotia last year made gun control ever more urgent. But so did so many other murders by gun over the years, including the 1989 Ecole Polytechnique massacre of 14 women, and yet ambitious laws haven’t been enacted since prime minister Stephen Harper grinned and killed the national gun registry in 2012.

A coterie of older men in the “National Firearms Association” passing itself off as a voting base clings to machine gunnery to the point of this week calling for the guillotining of politicians who back gun regulation.

I don’t understand this, nor do legal Canadian hunters with their legal guns. I grew up with hunting rifles, the dark smell of gun oil, the sharp smell of animal blood. I have seen rifles in safe hands and in dreadful hands too.

It’s not clear what to make of Bill C-21, the Liberal government’s new effort. It includes a voluntary buyback of assault-style rifles, plus red-flag/yellow-flag laws that let citizens ask courts to take guns from dangerous owners and chief firearms officers to suspend gun licences. It also gives municipalities the right to ban handguns.

Almost all anti-gun groups are furious, saying these killing machines should be banned outright. They are correct. Domestic violence is soaring. Gunfire is the final domestic punishment for women out of work and trapped at home.

I cannot grasp the Liberal strategy here. Are they trying to make it politically difficult for a Conservative government to welcome back assault-style rifles with a flourish? No. Conservatives have no shame about loving gunmen.

Does Justin Trudeau think Alberta is in play, given the disgrace of right-wing Premier Jason Kenney? But men who own arsenals will never abandon Kenney.

Here’s the key to what women’s groups are calling “gun uncontrol laws.” If you don’t sell your assault-style rifles, you won’t legally be able to fire, transport, sell, or bequeath the ones you keep. In essence, you will be left holding an elaborate stick. And it will be registered, something local police will be grateful to know as they pull up at your house.

Your stick will be kept in “enhanced storage,” which means not over the fireplace. You must display your distorted manhood in some other way. Does this defeat the purpose? Just as I thought.

Many anti-gun organizations representing women, doctors, peaceful humans and so on are puzzled by this gentle approach. Why not make the buyback program mandatory, as New Zealand did?

There were allegedly between 50,000 and 240,000 guns in New Zealand. Gun groups preferred the higher figure so that when 60,000 guns were handed in, they could say the buyback failed. In fact, it may have been a great success and a second one has begun.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says the government has eliminated legal use and offered incentives for people to get rid of assault-style rifles. In other words, they are the new cigarettes. If you still have them, you can’t smoke them anywhere, not even at home.

As assault-style rifles verge on illegality, people will edge away from their freakish owners, just as we do when someone smells of smoke. Eventually no one will smoke, or have the means to massacre women or religious people. But how many women will die in the meantime?

Some anti-gun campaigners don’t like the red flag rules that allow a citizen to apply to the court, saying it off-loads police responsibility to civilians. For police, certainly in doctrinaire Alberta and lawless Nova Scotia, can simply disregard civilian concerns.

Equally, the scattershot handgun ban makes no sense. Legal handguns have grown like mushrooms in the dark, so much so that there are now more than one million, almost three times as many as there were in 2006.

If Ottawa allows provinces to block municipalities from regulating handguns, it could mean some provinces will do it and others won’t. This is lacework regulation, and it is not the Canadian way.

Will the NDP and the Green Party support the bill? They care about social justice but gun control and indeed women’s rights have never interested them much.

Then again, we are in lockdown. All our passions centre on that great day when we finally leave our homes, breathing deeply and confident of not dying as a result. (My target date is September. When is yours?)

Bill C-21 is the federal version of the Doug Ford coronavirus lockdown, full of half-measures, confusing rules, and more people dying before their time. But it is all that is on offer right now.


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