There’s been a lot of discussion around town about the new firearms ban imposed by Ottawa in wake of the horrific mass shooting in Nova Scotia, where 22 innocent people were murdered.
With everyone already on edge because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the sheer psychotic nature of the crime — information coming in from the investigation seems to suggest the murderer had planned something like this for a long, long time — the shock of a mass killing hardened everyone’s resolve, hence the widespread support for the ban. Scenes of heavily armed thugs staring down lawmakers in the United States probably didn’t help either.
Personally, I have very mixed feelings about the ban. Probably my biggest issue with it is there isn’t really a lot in it that would actually prevent another Gabriel Wortman. The firearms he used were acquired illegally, many from the United States, and he had gone out of his way to maximize the amount of damage he could on his rampage using gasoline and disguises.
To date, it appears he did not have a firearms licence. Yet he was clearly better armed than most PAL holders (myself included.) If someone wants to get a firearm and go on a rampage, there really isn’t much to stop them.
So I feel for the sport-shooters. Keeping up with the legal hurdles to own, never mind actually use, some of these firearms now banned takes serious dedication. And the goalposts move every few years whenever someone does something evil, insane or idiotic that no self-respecting firearms owner would ever allow with their tools.
But I really feel for indigenous hunters. It seems whenever a nut case or group of them storm a legislature building or go on a shooting spree down south, more restrictions pile on which hurt people who don’t have deep pockets. To be legally able to own firearms requires one to two days in classes, which means prohibitive transport costs and accommodation. Then you undergo an RCMP screening and submit a photo to get your PAL card. Then of course the cost of a decent shotgun or rifle and ammunition is on top of all that. You can’t carry a handgun for wildlife emergencies and if you want to have one at all, what you can do with it is even more restrictive.
All that being said, the gun lobby is shooting itself in the foot. Claiming this ban is undemocratic is nonsense; it was front-and-centre in the Liberal party’s re-election platform. Their critics were too preoccupied with Justin Trudeau’s misadventures with make-up to notice. The ban is well within the regulatory framework of the law and can be undone just as easily. So while excessive, there’s no reason restrictions couldn’t be eased back when things settle down and still keep the spirit of the ban.
But I favour a temporary ban because we are at a period in time where a disturbing number of people are calling for violence against the Prime Minister and joining far-right and/or separatist paramilitary groups that have dangerous attitudes towards immigrants, aboriginals, women and minorities. And they’re getting more brazen all the time.
Until the political climate in North America cools down, I think it’s pragmatic to disarm people of the more dangerous weapons out there and the only fair way to do it is to do it across the board.