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Canadian federal, local governments discuss total gun ban after Trudeau’s directive

California Attorney General Kamala Harris announces on June 16, 2011, a statewide sweep that collected more than 1,200 firearms were seized from individuals legally barred from possessing them. (Office of the Attorney General of California/Released)
November 16, 2018

In August, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called on his security minister, Bill Blair, to explore the possibility of a full gun ban.

“You should lead an examination of a full ban on handguns and assault weapons in Canada, while not impeding the lawful use of firearms by Canadians,” the letter said, according to CBC News.

Now, Blair, the minister of border security and organized crime reduction, has been meeting with local governments across the nation recently to evaluate the possibility of a nationwide gun ban.

Blair visited Montreal and Toronto, who passed city council motions calling on both the provincial and national governments to implement a gun ban.

Toronto has welcomed the possibility of a gun ban, with its mayor even saying the ban should start in the city. Toronto has seen a spike in gun homicides in 2018 and is closing in on breaking a record that was set in 1991.

“If it’s going to help even a little bit, to stop one death from occurring in this city or one shooting, then to me it is a step that is worth the consideration that Minister Blair has been asked to give to it,” said Toronto Mayor John Tory, according to The Globe and Mail.

Montreal city councilor Alex Norris said, “Too often we see assault weapons that were made to kill people in the hands of people who have no business owning such a weapon,” CBC News reported.

“To put an end to this, we need bans that are clear and precise to reduce the number of these lethal weapons that are circulating in our society,” Norris added.

Blair recently wrapped up his nationwide consultations with local governments and is expected to release his findings soon.

The findings are expected to show favor for a gun ban, however, as Toronto and Montreal have called for, and several polls show a majority of Canadians also favor a ban.

A Dec. 2017 Ekos poll showed that 69 percent of Canadians supported strict gun bans in urban areas.

More recently, a Sept. 2018 Nanos poll showed that 49 percent of Canadians favored a full gun ban for civilians, only permitting law enforcement and security personnel to possess them. Just 21 percent opposed the ban, while 10 percent said they somewhat opposed it.

The Coalition for Gun Control launched a national campaign Tuesday that consists of a full social media campaign and a number of billboard ads calling for a full gun ban, The Star reported.

The campaign points to a gun control advocate website that includes a government petition to ban weapons. The petition states, “We, the undersigned, Canadian citizens, call upon the Government of Canada to implement a ban on the civilian ownership of handguns and military assault weapons.”

Coalition president Wendy Cukier fears what she calls a “tipping point” where there will be too many gun owners to ban them. She added that in 2005, some 300,000 people legally possessed guns in Canada.

“Now there are almost a million, and if we wait longer, there will be two million,” Cukier said.

One of Canada’s most prominent supporter of gun ownership is Michelle Rempel, a Conservative politician who was one of the many who fled Canada’s parliament in 2014 when a gunman came in and opened fire, according to the Economist.

Some claimed that a gun ban would have prevented that incident, but Rempel wasn’t sold on that idea. After extensive research, Rempel decided that a gun ban was surely not the answer and now advocates for gun rights.

However, Parliament is considering c-71, a bill would stiffen background checks and record-keeping.

Gun laws in Canada are more restricted than in the U.S. as citizens are not protected by the Second Amendment.

Sales and possession of firearms are allowed in Canada, but heavily regulated with background checks and safety courses. Those who need to transport their firearm must apply for a special permit, which takes a long time to get approved.

Possessing a weapon for the purpose of self-defense is an entirely different process and only goes under consideration when an individual can prove that they cannot be protected by law enforcement.

It is a very detailed process and only two of these such permits have ever been issued in Canada.

Still, Canada ranks in the top five for the highest rate of gun ownership at 34.7 per 100 individuals.

Gun advocates say that gun regulations in Canada are sufficient and need not be changed.

Tracey Wilson of the Canadian Coalition for Firearms Rights, the only registered gun lobbyist, said tighter restriction will not make people safer.

Both the commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the head of the Toronto police union agreed a handgun ban would not deter criminals.

A whitepaper released on Sunday by the Canadian government stated,  “In all cases the data does not conclusively demonstrate that these handgun or assault weapon bans have led to reductions in gun violence, though some studies drew other conclusions.”