A lot of hunters and gun owners are mad that the Liberals have been reelected, with a mandate to follow through on their gun control commitment. I get that. But this is a democracy of sorts and the big majority of our society favours the ban on semi-automatic rifles and handguns. The most recent poll (Ipsos May 2020) found that 82% of Canadians support the ban on semi-automatic rifles, and 70% support a handgun ban.
The gun lobby, backed by the powerful firearms industry, claims that gun violence is all down to criminals and gang activity, and these regulations just penalize law-abiding gun owners. That is not supported by the facts. Most Canadian gunshot victims are not shot by criminals. The big majority, about 75%, are self-inflicted and intentional.
The many unsuccessful attempts end up with the trauma surgeons who do their best. Pretty sobering. Of the 20% that are homicides, a significant proportion are related to domestic violence. That most commonly involves a legally owned long gun. Of the dozen or so mass shootings in this country in recent history, all but two involved formerly law-abiding, legal gun owners (the Mayerthorpe and Portapique shootings are the exceptions). All cases involved rapid-fire semiautomatic rifles.
Much is also made about the “strict regulations” that are currently in place around gun ownership. A criminal records check however does precious little to identify mental illness issues – associated with all too many shooting incidents. As one prominent Toronto psychiatrist put it “The only thing worse than severe mental illness is heavily armed severe mental illness”.
We know that limiting firearms such as semi-automatic rifles saves lives. Australia went through this more than 25 years ago following the Port Arthur shooting in which 35 were killed and 23 wounded. Some 650,000 guns were surrendered and destroyed through mandatory buy-back. Gun-related suicides and homicides were cut in half. There has only been one mass shooting there since.
Change is not always easy. As a gun owner all my adult life however I support a ban on all centre fire semiautomatic rifles and hope the Liberals expand their now partial ban to be all-inclusive of this class of firearm. My question to the holdouts is this: Just what exactly is it about a rapid-fire semi-automatic weapon that was designed for the battlefield that is so essential to your enjoyment of hunting or sport shooting? Is this such a great loss when you still have a wide array of break-action, bolt action, lever action and slide or pump-action firearms from which to chose?
Jon Crowson, Hamiota