By David Kelly
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Friday a national freeze on the sale, purchase, and transfer of handguns effective immediately. This means that people cannot buy, sell, or transfer handguns within Canada, and they cannot bring newly acquired handguns into the country.
The nationwide freeze was first announced in May, to coincide with the Canadian Minister of Public Safety’s Bill C-21, or “Act to amend certain Acts,” which includes amending the Firearms Act. While the bill continues to be heavily debated in the House of Commons and still needs to find its way to the Senate, Trudeau decided to use his familiar dictator-style leadership and institute draconian action immediately through regulations to “keep Canadians safe.”
“Canadians have the right to feel safe in their homes, in their schools, and in their places of worship. With handgun violence increasing across Canada, it is our duty to take urgent action to remove these deadly weapons from our communities. Today, we’re keeping more guns out of our communities, and keeping our kids safe,” Trudeau stated in the official announcement.
Canada’s Minister of Public Safety, Marco E.L. Mendicino, added, “Our government is taking Canada’s most significant action on gun violence in a generation. We made a commitment to Canadians that we would act — and we are. The national freeze will tackle the alarming role of handguns in crime, gender-based violence, and more. We are using all tools at our disposal to fight gun violence and will not rest until all Canadians feel safe in their communities.”
The government of Canada thinks that “handguns are the weapon of choice in most firearm-related crimes,” and thus the national handgun freeze is part of their comprehensive plan to tackle gun violence. They have already banned over 1,500 types of assault-style firearms and strengthened their gun control laws, expanding background checks. Bill C-21 proposes further measures to keep guns out of the “wrong hands,” such as revoking the firearms licenses of those involved in acts of domestic violence or criminal harassment, continuing to fight gun smuggling and trafficking, and providing law enforcement more tools to investigate firearms crimes.
In addition to a ban on handgun sales, it is also now forbidden to bring newly acquired handguns into Canada. The freeze is being met with elation from gun reform groups who welcomed the immediate action.
“Reducing the proliferation of handguns is one important example of the evidence-based measures Canada needs to reduce gun violence and save lives,” Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns tweeted in response to the news.
But a gun-owners group, the Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights (CCFR), disagreed that the gun freeze would protect Canadians from gun violence. Their data, based on Canada’s accurate counts of the number of registered firearms and handguns since 2003, show that “the number of restricted and prohibited firearms has doubled from 572,325 to 1,165,114 firearms, while the rate of homicide by handgun has remained relatively constant.”
The CCFR website explained, “The data revealed no associated increase in handgun homicide with the increase in the number of registered restricted and prohibited firearms…. If prevalence of handguns was associated with an increase in homicide, one would expect homicide rates to also increase. This suggests that legally owned firearms are not linked with homicide rates.”
The data also showed that a reduction in access to handguns would not necessarily reduce handgun-related homicides, as legally owned handguns and handguns on the black market may have much different risk of associated harm.
“In fact, in Ontario, Canada, where handguns are very difficult to legally acquire, it appears that 85% of handguns involved in criminal activity were not obtained legally in Canada but rather from outside the country and most often from the United States,” the group shared. “Hence, controlling domestically legally owned handguns may in fact result in no additional or measurable benefit. In addition, licensed firearms owners in Canada are half as likely to commit homicide with a firearm than an average Canadian.”
Gun violence has been with mankind since the invention of firearms, and laws supposedly to prevent such violence have only hindered the right of law-abiding citizens to protect themselves. Prime Minister Trudeau and Canada’s Parliament need to be honest about their true intentions in this gun freeze. Even if it were passed, Bill C-21 wouldn’t fix the problem.