A local gun owner is up in arms over a recent proposal from the federal government to ban “military-style assault rifles,” saying the pledge unfairly takes aims at law abiding citizens and northern hunters, instead of targeting the real sources of gun violence in Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the promise during a campaign stop in Toronto on Sept. 20. If re-elected, he said, the Liberals would establish a buyback program for legally purchased guns falling under the new ban. Municipalities would be given the power to further restrict, or ban, handguns.

The proposal was touted as a means of curbing gun violence across the country while, at the same time, respecting the rights of hunters and farmers – Trudeau said military-style guns, not needed to “take down a deer,” have no place in Canada for civilian use.

According to background materials from the Liberal government obtained by CBC News, the ban would include “assault-style rifles and semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15 that look like assault rifles and can be converted to be fully automatic.”

Fully automatic weapons are already banned in Canada. Firearms in Canada are placed in three categories: non-restricted; prohibited – meaning you can’t possess them at all – and restricted. AR-15s, a semi-automatic rifle that has been used in numerous mass shootings in the United States, are already restricted in Canada.

Background checks and safety courses are required for licensed holders of restricted firearms.

For Fraser Brown, a Yellowknife firearms owner and hunter, the Liberal government’s use of the term “assault,” makes no sense.

Stock photo.
A local gun owner and hunter says the Liberal government’s plan to ban “assault-style” rifles panders to the misinformed while missing the mark on the source of real gun violence in Canada.

“It’s pandering to the misinformed,” said Brown in a recent interview. “It’s a made up term that has no legal definition.”

When people hear the word “assault rifle,” Brown said they usually imagine the AR-15 (which stands for the make of the gun, ArmaLite). It’s part plastic and it “looks scary,” said Brown, but the “demonized” rifle is really no different than any other rifle — it fires once with each pull of the trigger, and in Canada, its magazine size is limited to five rounds.

Going after the AR-15 – a rifle that’s already illegal to hunt with and limited only to gun range use – misses the mark on curbing gun violence, said Brown.

While he understands the proposed ban on handguns in Canada after the federal government said that it would seek the views of citizens on that question, he said the proposed assault weapons ban would harm “people who are are literally the most law abiding people in the country.”

Since 2013, which marked the end of a four-year decline in gun violence, firearm-related violent crime has spiked by 42 per cent, according to Statistics Canada. Between 2013 and 2017, increases were recorded in 16 census metropolitan areas. The national upturn was largely the result of gun violence in Toronto.

Roughly sixty per cent of violent firearm-related offences since 2009 have involved handguns, Statistics Canada data shows. Illegal firearm smuggling into the country remains a problem, with the Canada Border Services Agency seizing 751 guns between 2017 and 2018.

While handguns are behind the bulk of gun violence in Canada by a long shot, semi-automatics rifles have been used to perpetrate high-profile shootings in the country, including the 1989 École Polytechnique massacre in Montreal.

Incumbent Liberal MP Michael McLeod told Yellowknifer the definition of what “assault” firearms will be banned is still being worked out.

“The intention is to look at assault rifles such as the AR-15,” said McLeod, adding “a lot of people are saying we should be looking at the rate of fire as a way of categorizing (what would be banned).”

Rate of fire refers to the frequency at which a particular type of gun can fire bullets. McLeod said he doesn’t see the proposed ban impacting hunters in the North.

“There’s not too many hunters that use semi-automatic guns to hunt,” he said. “There’s hunters that use semi-automatic shotguns — it doesn’t apply to that. There’s hunters that use semi-automatic .22s — it doesn’t apply to that.”

“So the definition hasn’t been defined yet but it’s not going to apply to rimfire, it will apply to centerfire guns …,” he added.

Centerfire firearms are more powerful than rimfire guns.

“We’re not sure on the other type of rifles that are going to be considered,” said McLeod.

The definitions will be hammered out over a two-year consultation process if he’s re-elected, he said.

But Fraser Brown said if the government is going to focus on rate of fire, then they have to be going after semi-automatic weapons at large, which are “used by hunters everywhere.”

Fraser said he knows many Indigenous sustenance hunters who use semi-automatic guns like the SKS, an affordable firearm that’s used to “harvest pretty much anything.”

What are other federal candidates saying?

Green Party candidate Paul Falvo stated he would “vote against any Liberal proposal that impedes lawful Northern hunters.”

“As your Northwest Territories MP I will be listening to constituents and I will advocate for responsible gun ownership that facilitates sustenance and traditional hunting,” added Falvo.

Luke Quinlan, NWT candidate for the People’s Party of Canada, called the Liberal proposal a “distraction.”

“This is part of the active, ongoing harassment of the legal firearm community whether you’re a sports shooter, a collector or a hunter,” he said.

Yanik D’Aigle, the Conservative candidate for the Northwest Territories, did not respond to a Yellowknifer’s request for comment, nor did NDP candidate Mary Beckett.

Brendan Burke

As the Yellowknifer’s crime reporter, it’s my job to keep readers up to speed on all-things “cops and courts” related. From house fires and homicides to courtroom clashes, it’s my responsibility...

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  1. “…Fraser Brown said if the government is going to focus on rate of fire, then they have to be going after semi-automatic weapons at large, which are “used by hunters everywhere.”

    So, fair chase was never really a thing. Colour me surprised.

  2. Here we go again. The liberals will keep passing laws until they draft one that criminals will get behind. Confiscate guns for illogical reasons once again targeting law abiding citizens.
    The biggest problems are actually gang activity and gun smuggling from the U.S. which they won’t address. This is because of the ethnic minefield they would step into. So, it’s facts be damned, let’s appear to be doing something.

  3. All these so called educated people on our local and national news broadcasts as well as the PM call our firearms “weapons” which they are not. A firearm only becomes a weapon when it is used in war or to commit crimes by criminals or very sick people like the waste of skin that took righteous brothers and sisters from us here in N.S. Also all of us law abiding firearms owners have lived and taken all the measures that the law has set out over the years now to be told that all the money spent on our collections not including optics and other accessories. I ask will the Government compensate us for all the costs related to the extras we have added, so we can shoot at the range in a competitive manner.

  4. Liberal tyrants are shrewd. Sure they won’t be confiscating “hunters’ rifles” this time around. They will take them in small bits. Just like since 1934… We don’t want to confiscate your handguns, just want to register them. Followed by bans on short barrel handguns and .25 and .32 cal handguns. Then we don’t want to confiscate your rifles, just register them. Followed by bans on fully-automatic rifles and a bunch on semi-auto rifles that were based on full-auto but not full-auto. Then we don’t want to criminalize firearms owners, we just want to license them for acquisition of firearms (FAC). Followed by PAL licensing which criminalized firearms owners for simple possession (not misuse of) firearms. And so it continues. Scary semi-auto and handgun bans today (if the leftist parties are elected), and then pump actions and lever actions (just like Australia), until you have nothing but single shots and then they will ban those too (because no one needs a gun). All gun owners need to stand together now while we are 2+ million strong and send the tyrants, who would disarm all Canadians, packing.

  5. Looks like the liberals are hiding the fact that legal Full Auto does exist in Canada and is no risk to the public, they are vintage machine guns from WW1 & WW2, etc, classed as “12-2 Prohibs”, Grandfathered to legal owners in 1978. No one after 1978 can get a 12-2 license. The government is waiting for this pool of Canadian owners to die off, and as they do, their 12-2 guns are deactivated or turned in for destruction as directed in their wills.

  6. Michael Mcleod will do and say what keeps his pay cheque coming.
    It is time for him to go as I am sure that there are a lot of people in the NT that will be affected by this LPC stupidity. They will start with semi-automatic rifles and just keep right on bulldozing until we won’t even be allowed to own a pellet gun.

  7. Hunters need not worry? The Liberals are estimating 250,000 to 300,000 rifles will be forcibly confiscated! There are roughly 75,000 ar platform rifles registered in canada! That means some 200,000 rifles are going to be forcibly confiscated that are NOT ar platform rifles. Think about that! No one wants to see an end to violence involving firearms more than Canada’s law abiding sport shooting community. This latest attack by the liberals would have people believe that these measures involving handguns AND AR type rifles will stop or reduce the shootings that are taking place in our cities. For that to happen you have to assume a couple things. 1st that these crimes are being commited by Canada’s hunters & target shooters! That we would spend all the time and effort to licence ourselves, register our guns, pay for club memberships, pay for safe storage, and then go commit a crime, and lose everything! Nonsense! That is just not happening! 2nd you must also assume that the criminals who are currently breaking existing laws by using illegal guns and who are NOT licensed will all of a sudden cease all illegal activities!? Again NONSENSE! The truth is there is no good reason to alter the current gun licencing system whatsoever, it works! Gun owners are tied to their guns legaly and moraly, we are responsible for them! We undergo daily scrutiny in the form of cpic checks, we are proven to be safe. The measures being suggested are a lazy persons way of appearing to tackle crime by victimizing up to 2 million law abiding Canadians while spending a half billion dollars to do it! Another downside of all this is the huge distraction it will cause to already maxxed out law enforcement, police should be focused on real crime & real criminals not going door to door shaking down hunters and target shooters. It is wrong to target people this way, it is wrong to force good people to be subject to the actions of criminals! And it is especialy wrong to go down such a divisive, distracting, and expensive path when all the information suggests it wont work!

  8. I as well wrote McLeod directly. I was told he would side with his party. I sent a reply asking about traditional aboriginal hunting rights being infringed upon because of using semi automatic rifles, to which I never got a response. Not voting Liberal.

  9. Michael McLeod made it clear months ago to me vis emails that he supported the Liberal Parties all out assault on the Canadian Sport Shooting Community via voting in favour of Bill C-71, which does nothing to address the Criminal/Gang Gun Violence in the major Canadian Cities and only impedes legally licensed law abiding gun owners who are factually 3 times less likely to commit a serious crime than a person who does not possess a firearms license. Michael McLeod now supports a ban on AR-15 which has never been used in a homicide in Canada in the 4+ decades it has been available for sale in Canada. The Liberal’s have repeatedly presented false and misleading information to Canadians in order to support their gun control agenda, this has been well documented and debunked by the CCFR.
    Mr. McLeod has also indicated to me that he enjoys Hunting but when asked if he holds a valid firearms license he did not reply, it has also come to my attention that he has not responded to other letters/email from concerned sport shooters including the Yellowknife Shooting Club.