Business booms as Trudeau’s gun pledge languishes

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While campaigning for re-election as prime minister, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a powerful pledge to reduce gun violence.

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Opinion

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 07/03/2020 (1002 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

While campaigning for re-election as prime minister, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a powerful pledge to reduce gun violence.

“We will ban military-style assault rifles and start a buy-back program of all military-brand weapons,” he vowed.

Five months later, his promise remains all talk and no action.

The importance of the federal Liberal government living up to its commitment was underlined by a recent announcement from a Manitoba company that it’s offering for public sale a new product called the WS-MCR: a semi-automatic rifle with a pistol grip and an AR-15-type ammunition magazine that lets the shooter fire off dozens of rounds in a short period of time. It’s available for $1,300 to anyone with a valid firearms licence.

It’s important to note that the Manitoba firm — which is based in Virden — is doing nothing illegal. And therein lies the issue.

The retail company, which is one of Canada’s largest gun distributors, is operating within the current law by developing and selling its latest model of semi-automatic rifle. The firm found commercial success with an earlier incarnation of the WS-MCR that became the country’s bestselling semi-automatic rifle. Advertising for this new weapon has appeared in this newspaper, in fact.

These made-in-Manitoba firearms are among the type the Liberals have called “military weapons designed to hunt people and not animals.”

When asked for an update on the government pledge to ban semi-automatic assault rifles, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said in December the government is composing a list of which makes and models will be prohibited. He has estimated the government will need to buy back about 250,000 guns that are now legally owned in Canada, at an approximate cost of $1,500 per gun.

The importance of the Liberals acting promptly on this matter is underscored by the Virden company’s campaign to sell its new semi-automatic rifles before the government makes them illegal. The more of these guns that are sold, the more will need to be bought back by the government.

When the government eventually delivers on its promise and introduces its ban-and-buy-back scheme, not all owners will be eager to surrender their weapons. A spokesman for Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association, an industry group representing gun businesses, said, “It’s hard to believe we’re going down this road.” The National Firearms Association also objects to the government’s plan to “target the rights and property of Canada,” and has vowed legal challenges.

Objections to the proposed legislation are also expected within the House of Commons. Conservatives are on the record as opposing a ban on military-style assault weapons because it would penalize law-abiding gun owners. In the current minority-government scenario, a forthcoming bill would obviously require the Liberals to enlist support from parties other than the Conservatives to pass gun-control legislation.

All parties would do well to heed the advice of Canada’s police chiefs, who are well-acquainted with crime and guns. Since 1977, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police has been urging politicians to classify semi-automatic assault rifles as restricted weapons.

A resolution from the police chiefs says, “Semi-automatic firearms have no sporting use either in the cultural or recreational sense” and are “basically designed as an instrument of war.”

There are countries on Earth so dangerous that citizens feel the need to arm themselves with instruments of war. Canada is not one of those countries.

 

» Winnipeg Free Press and The Brandon Sun

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