There’s no need for a major overhaul of our gun laws, and there are far less draconian and faster ways to tackle any concern over lawful guns being sold onto the black market.
The federal Liberals are set to launch on another showy but useless endeavour: a public consultation on a possible ban on handguns. Handguns, and other “restricted” firearms (as defined by the Criminal Code), are already tightly regulated in Canada. And as noted in this space several weeks ago, the recent news reports suggesting that there has been a measurable surge in the number of so-called “crime guns” originating from lawful Canadian purchasers have been exposed as wrong. Not only is there no evidence to support that claim, there is at least some evidence showing that it is false.
There has been an apparent surge in the number of shootings in major Canadian cities, which police believe is linked to gang violence. That is indeed a problem. But is that evidence that a major overhaul of our gun laws is needed? Even the Liberals didn’t think so as recently as six months ago. That’s when the federal Liberal government introduced Bill C-71, which provided a series of relatively minor tweaks to Canadian gun-control laws. Some of their ideas were good, some were bad. None of them involved a handgun ban, because it was clear that none was needed.
Nothing has changed since then, except for the Liberals’ political calculus. After some high-profile shootings (none of which would have been prevented by the handgun bans now being proposed by advocates), they perceive a need to be seen doing something. So poor Bill Blair, the former cop and now federal minister in charge of organized crime reduction, will be sent across the country to talk to Canadians as part of yet another grand consultation process. It’s simply theatre, designed to buy the Liberals some time. Nothing more.
And it’s all too typical of this government. The reality is this: there’s no need for a major overhaul of our gun laws, and there are far less draconian and faster ways to tackle any concern over lawful guns being sold onto the black market. Pouring resources into anti-gang initiatives would be better still. Even so, if the government really wanted to ban handguns, it would consult experts, not town halls. Do the Liberals still bother even paying lip service to “evidence-based policy” anymore?
Because there are plenty of experts and evidence at hand. The government can access every scholar with expertise on the subject, international partners, allied police forces, industry leaders, our law enforcement agencies, and reams of data collected by police forces and StatCan, often going back decades.
All the information the government actually needs is there, ready to be acted on, or not. This consultation with the public is for show, a vanity exercise on a national scale. It’s worse than pointless.
So, naturally, it’s now the preferred course of a government hooked on hollow symbolism.