Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made an impassioned speech about gun violence Friday in announcing a ban on 1,500 types of firearms.
While Trudeau’s speech carried emotional weight, there is one glaring problem with the ban’s implementation — how can the nation’s government ensure citizens turn over their now-banned weapons when there is no way to know exactly how many such firearms are in circulation?
In his address to the Canadian people Friday, Trudeau spoke about instances of gun violence in his country, including the April 18-19 massacre in Nova Scotia that left 22 dead.
Trudeau called it the “deadliest rampage” in the country’s history and spoke about the victims and the loved ones they left behind.
“Their families deserve more than thoughts and prayers. Canadians deserve more than thoughts and prayers,” Trudeau said, just before describing the ban.
“Effective immediately, it is no longer permitted to buy, sell, transport, import or use military-grade assault weapons in this country,” Trudeau declared, even though police believe the weapons used in the Nova Scotia attack were obtained illegally anyway.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation elaborated on the gun control plan, which requires owners of the newly banned firearms to surrender or export them by April 2022.
But an unnamed government official admitted to reporters on background that it’s unclear exactly how many of the now-banned firearms are currently in circulation, which certainly adds to the arbitrary and chaotic nature of enforcing such a decree.
Global News highlighted Canada’s weapon classification system, noting the difficulty in tracking previously unregistered weapons which were suddenly declared illegal.
Firearms in Canada are classified as either prohibited, restricted or non-restricted, with many rifles and long guns falling into the last category of weapons, which are currently not required to be registered with the government.
Although purchases of non-restricted weapons were previously logged, the government nixed its registry and all information contained within it in 2015, making it nearly impossible to know who owns them or even how many are currently in the hands of Canadians.
The issue, as Global News pointed out, is that some previously non-restricted guns, like the Beretta Cx4 Storm, are now banned, “so there’s no registry of owners” of those guns.
“They have no idea really where those are,” A.J. Somerset, a gun policy expert and former gunnery instructor with the Canadian Forces, told Global News. “So it’ll be difficult for them to actually confiscate those firearms, it’ll be difficult for them to compel people to give them up.”
Despite this glaring issue, a gun ban is exactly the kind of thing politicians like Trudeau are all too eager to impose.
In this case, Trudeau even used a tragedy to push through his agenda regardless of the impracticality of enforcing such a ban.
The ban came via cabinet order, according to The New York Times, ostensibly because Parliament is not in session due to health concerns.
“Outrageous. The Liberal government wants to bypass Parliament and roll out a new firearms ban tomorrow,” Derek Sloan, a Conservative member of Parliament representing parts of Ontario, tweeted last week.
“No debate, no votes = no representation for licensed, law-abiding Canadians.”
Outrageous. The Liberal government wants to bypass Parliament and roll out a new firearms ban tomorrow.
— Derek Sloan (@DerekSloanCPC) May 1, 2020
Law-abiding citizens, of course, are always the ones most impacted when the stroke of a pen suddenly makes their weapons illegal.
Yes, they will have the benefit of the two-year amnesty period, but so what? For those whose weapons went from being non-restricted to banned, they must decide whether to admit to owning those weapons at all, since the government has no record of them anyway.
Even if there were a registry, what’s to stop owners from simply reporting that they “misplaced” their firearms at the bottom of a lake while out fishing?
But like all gun control measures, this ban puts the onus on responsible, rule-following citizens, knowing they will largely comply. Meanwhile, criminals will continue to break the law anyway and keep whatever guns they choose.
Therein lies the problem with all gun control — if law-abiding citizens do what they’re told, they will be defenseless against the criminals who will be armed anyway.
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