Justin Trudeau used the 29th anniversary of a tragedy to push for greater restrictions on handguns despite a lack of evidence it would accomplish his stated goal: Improved public safety.
So much for fact-based, evidenced-based policy.
Throughout the 2015 election campaign and countless times since in the House of Commons, Trudeau and his ministers have said that unlike the Conservatives, they base their policies on fact. They even put it in their 2015 election platform.
“Government should base its policies on facts, not makeup facts to suit a preferred policy,” the platform reads.
“Responsible governments rely on sound data to make their decisions. We will release to the public key information that informs the decisions we make.”
Yet despite releasing any evidence to back up their call for stricter handgun laws, Trudeau used the 29th anniversary of the Ecole Polytechnique massacre to say he will move ahead with stricter gun laws.
Appearing on Montreal radio station 98.5 with Paul Arcand, Trudeau said restricting handguns further is not out of the question.
“We are thinking about how we will do better to counter violence from handguns and assault weapons. It is unacceptable what happens … We want to limit the easy access that unfortunately remains for criminals with handguns and assault weapons,” Trudeau said.
So he’s talking about handguns and criminals, but he is doing it on the anniversary of a massacre that took the lives of 14 women.
Trudeau’s intention, his desire, to take handguns and “assault weapons” off the streets is evident. He had talked about it openly many times.
This despite the fact that there is no evidence to support his position.
First off, let’s deal with the idea of an “assault weapon.”
What is it?
In the federal consultations on the possible ban they gave no definition of their own but did allude to the 1994 American assault weapons ban. That was an act of Congress to ban for a period of 10 years, a number of firearms based on mostly on cosmetic features of guns.
To qualify for the ban, a semi-automatic rifle had to have two or more of the following: a folding or telescoping stock, pistol grip, bayonet mount, flash suppressor, or threaded barrel designed to accommodate one or a grenade launcher.
None of those things change the firing rate of the gun or the power of the bullet.
A semi-automatic rifle is one where every time the trigger is pulled, a bullet is fired. You can’t spray a room full of people like that.
So the definition is weak and normally is used to apply to guns people find scary—the black synthetic ones, as opposed to Grandpa’s wood stocked hunting rifle.
Any such ban is problematic but more importantly, we don’t have a rash of murders with rifles in Canada.
As for handguns, these firearms are heavily regulated and incredibly difficult to get.
Unless you are a criminal
To buy a handgun legally, a Canadian must be over the age of 18, take a full weekend safety course, pass a criminal background check, have your spouse or any conjugal partner effectively sign off on you buying one.
The whole process can take months.
In most major cities, you can buy an illegal handgun today if you know who to ask.
Our problem in Canada is not crimes committed with legal guns but illegal guns smuggled across the border.
Lately, the government has been making the claim that 50% of guns used in crimes come from Canadian sources, up significantly they claim from the past when most crime guns were smuggled in from the United States.
Which brings us back to the Liberal campaign platform that said, “Government should base its policies on facts, not makeup facts to suit a preferred policy.”
This claim about 50% of crime guns being sourced in Canada has been made by senior politicians and police and yet none can back it up with facts.
When reporters and researchers have asked Statistics Canada, the RCMP, the Canadian Firearms Information System and Public Safety Canada to back-up the claim made by government officials, none could.
Researcher Dennis Young recently asked Public Safety Canada for any records to back up this very claim when it was made by Minister Ralph Goodale.
“A thorough search was conducted and Public Safety Canada was unable to locate any records responding to your request,” the reply read.
Despite the number of legally owned guns skyrocketing over the past number of years, our murder rate with handguns has even gone done.
Statistics Canada says that we went from a handgun murder rate of .30 per 100,000 in 1999 to .28 per 100,000 people in 2015.
Guns up, murders down
Yes, we do have a problem with gunplay on our streets. We have problems with shootings but both police and Statistics Canada will tell you most of the murders caused by handguns in Canada are gang-related.
Dealing with criminals, dealing with gangs is tough work. Attacking hunters and sports shooters is easy.
If Trudeau goes for the handgun ban, or further restricting legal ownership, he’s admitting that he has no clue on what to do with the real problem and is inventing one to fit the solution he wants.