With all the troubles in our world, the “silly season” – election time in Ontario – has brought out some silly suggestions.
The Ontario Liberals have pledged to ban the sale, possession, transport and storage of handguns if elected. Their plan will also accept the federal government’s offer to fund a buy-back program; partner with the federal government to stop gun smuggling at the Ontario-U.S. borders, and advocate to extend the ban nationally so that guns can’t be funneled through inter-provincial borders.
Once again, our politicians are firing blanks, so to speak.
The “facts” about gun control aren’t always as they seem. And you can read “control” in very real terms.
The Liberals point out that 49 people have been killed or injured already this year in Toronto alone. Handgun homicides have been increasing year-over-year, and made up 61% of firearms related deaths in 2020. Canada ranks 4th in firearm deaths among OECD countries.
Well that right there is inaccurate, and should be qualified. Perhaps on a per capita basis, but given our relatively small population these figures are pretty much useless. People have a tendency to cherry-pick data to suit their needs.
Half of Ontario guns deaths were from self harm, they point out. Well, those intent on taking their own lives will find a way.
The Liberals point the finger at Ford for being against such control measures. Political jousting to be sure.
“The Ford Conservatives are 100% aligned with the gun lobby, aggressively opposing all efforts by municipal councils and the federal government to take guns off Ontario streets,” concluded Liberal Leader Del Duca.
Let’s be clear – banning guns won’t get them off the streets, or out of the hands of bad guys.
In fact, banning them will only escalate and fuel the underground illegal market. Who wins? The bad guys, who will only make more money smuggling guns when they are in short supply.
Our existing laws are very strict where handguns are concerned.
To legally own a restricted or prohibited handgun, individuals must hold a Possession and Acquisition Licence with restricted or prohibited privileges. Obtaining a licence requires the completion of the appropriate safety course, a background check, and more. All restricted and prohibited handguns in Canada are required to be registered with the Registrar of Firearms.
Handguns can only be stored in an approved location and according to regulations – unloaded, locked, in a secure case or gun safe, and separate from ammunition. They can also only be transported to those locations for which the owner has an Authorization to Transport.
These restrictions mean individuals cannot carry a handgun on their person or bring it to a non- authorized location.
The current laws are quite enough, especially for law-abiding citizens.
According to the 2018 paper by Public Safety Canada, roughly 900,000 law abiding Canadians own handguns, for sport shooting and collecting.
Any ban of handguns or assault weapons would primarily affect legal firearms owners, while the illicit market would be indirectly affected as there would be fewer available to potentially divert.
The paper says that in all cases the data does not conclusively demonstrate that these handgun or assault weapon bans have led to reductions in gun violence. Patterns of gun violence are influenced by many factors and the impact cannot be attributed to one factor.
The law-abiding owners contribute to our economy in very real terms.
According to the gunblog.ca, an estimated $8.5 billion is spent annually on hunting and sport shooting in Canada. Gun owners spend roughly $1 million per day across the country for ammo and shooting gear.
As of December 2021 the RCMP says 2.236 million Canadians possess firearms licences.
There are some 90,000 law enforcement and military personnel who can carry loaded guns on a daily basis.
There are upwards of 1,200 target-shooting ranges in Canada – about the same as the number of McDonald’s restaurants.
The blog said that no legally owned guns were involved in violent attacks. Okay, this may be hard to verify.
More Canadian adults have a firearm licence than play golf, hockey, soccer or baseball.
The firearm and ammunition industry employs almost 50,000 people.
So, there’s a more complete picture of this pastime in our country.
We are not like our cousins to the south, whose gun laws are very different. Maybe that’s why some U.S. states still have the death penalty.
What anti-gun activists fail to mention is that more people are killed each year by knives, car accidents, even falling down stairs. Should we ban knives and cars?
We have very strict impaired driving laws, yet the numbers are still quite concerning. We ban people from driving yet they sometimes drive anyway.
Often, no matter the deterrent, people will still engage in harmful and potentially deadly behaviour.
The criminal element in our country doesn’t buy their guns at Bass Pro. Most likely, they are smuggled across the border from the U.S. A gun ban in Canada will not impact the illegal gun trade one iota.
It will not put an end to gun or gang violence. It will not save lives.
Perhaps politicians should consult the public to create a priority list of pressing issues.
I doubt handguns would be on the list.