Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is directing one of his ministers to examine a full ban on handgun and assault weapons.
A mandate letter issued to Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction Bill Blair asks the former Toronto police chief to support Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale on the passage of Bill C-71 (the Liberals’ gun control bill) and work on other policies that could help reduce gun crime.
And if the latest polls are to be believed, the move is on target with a majority of Canadians. A survey conducted by Research Co. from Sept. 2 to 5 found that 79 per cent of British Columbians support a handgun ban in their municipality, and 86 per cent support a ban on military-style assault weapons. A national poll conducted by Nanos Research showed that 48 per cent of Canadians support and 19 per cent somewhat support a handgun ownership ban for anyone other than police officers and other security professionals. Ten per cent of respondents were somewhat opposed, 21 per cent opposed the ban and three per cent were unsure.
City councils in both Montreal and Toronto have called on Ottawa to implement bans on handguns and assault weapons, citing previous mass shootings in both cities. One doesn’t have to look very far to see where the concerns come from.
According to a report in The Guardian earlier this year, there had been 1,624 mass shootings in the U.S. over a period of 1,870 days. And when most people think of gun violence, they think of large mass shootings. But of the more than 33,000 gun-related deaths in the U.S. each year, only about 500 are a result of mass shootings. And that’s not even mentioning the more than 70,000 who are injured by guns each year.
But with an estimated 265 million guns in the hands of Americans, more than one gun for every adult, there is little that can be done to reduce the epidemic of gun violence that has long been a part of American culture. More Americans have died from guns in the last 50 years than in all the wars in U.S. history. The U.S. has reached the saturation point, and no amount of legislation is likely to change America’s gun culture.
Canada’s federal government is wise to take on the issue now, before it follows its neighbours down a road with no way to turn back.