Earlier this year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government introduced Bill C-21, proposing a permanent freeze on the sale, transfer and import of handguns in Canada. The bill remains at the initial stages and did not pass prior to Parliament’s recess for the summer.
While the bill works its way through the parliamentary process, CBC news reports that the federal government is nonetheless “fast-track[ing] a ban on the import of handguns into the country without the approval of Parliament using a regulatory measure that comes into effect” on August 19, to “last until a permanent freeze is passed in Parliament and comes into force.” A government press release indicates that the “temporary” ban “will help bring the ultimate impact of the national handgun freeze into force sooner,” despite the fact that Bill C-21 has not been enacted.
Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly advised that she has the authority to deny any export or import permit application based on national security concerns. Referring to Marco Mendicino, the minister of public safety, she said, “we came up with this idea of creating this new system of requiring permits, but meanwhile, we will deny any permits from any commercial entity or people wanting to bring handguns to Canada… So this is how creatively we’ve worked…”
As nearly all handguns in Canada are imported, the real reason for this unilateral executive action is to preemptively stamp out individual handgun sales while they are still legal. One source indicates that “licensed firearm users bought almost 90,000 handguns in the seven weeks after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he’s killing the legal market, a shopping spree that set records,” and that by the first week of August, the total is likely to top 100,000 new sales. On August 5, a tweet by Ms. Joly on the intent of the “temporary” import ban couldn’t be clearer: “This will prevent shelves from being restocked, slowing the run on handguns to keep our communities safer.”
In an interview with CBC News on August 5, Marco Mendicino was asked specifically about the “unilateral ban” imposed while the federal legislation remains pending. “Why [do] you think it is okay to do that without Parliament’s approval,” and again, “why not take the time that it will take to get all the necessary political support for this, rather than doing it on your own?” He replied, in part, that the goal is to save lives and that “the status quo is not acceptable…The idea is that we will continue to press forward without any hesitation to pass Bill C-21…but it has to be seen in the broader context of a comprehensive strategy.” “We’ve been very innovative and creative and this is not necessarily an intuitive legal measure that we have come up with. It is something that is unprecedented and it shows the lengths to which we’re going to leave and exhaust all options… to accelerate the progress that we want to make on this important agenda…” The message, it seems, is if it can be done without Parliament, it will be.
One reason to avoid the regular legislative process is that the Conservative party and gun rights voters continue to oppose further and greater restrictions on responsible firearm licensees and the gun industry, claiming these will do little to stop the criminals committing gang and gun crimes. Raquel Dancho (Kildonan – St. Paul, MB), the Conservative Shadow Minister for Public Safety, said of Bill C-21 that, “the Liberals made it seem yet again that they are taking real action to keep communities safe, when in fact that is not the case.” Violent gun crimes have gone up in the seven years that Justin Trudeau has been Prime Minister, his government is “spending more money than any other government in history, and yet [the bill] will do nothing to address the rise of gun violence.” The evidence shows that “bans will not be effective,” because criminals who commit crimes will not comply with any bans.
Speaking of the new “temporary” import ban specifically, Ms. Dancho “accused the government of ‘attacking business owners and law-abiding citizens… Instead of addressing the true source of gun crime in Canada, the Liberal government is unilaterally banning imports without parliamentary input, impacting a multi-billion dollar industry and thousands of retailers and small businesses, with very little notice… [the import ban] will do nothing to stop the flow of illegal handguns.”
One real-life example that supports her argument occurred earlier this month, when police in Ontario uncovered a large-scale criminal network that was smuggling illegal guns (including handguns) along with large amounts of cocaine, heroin, fentanyl and other drugs into Canada. The chief of one of the police forces involved pointed out that his jurisdiction has only nine to 11 officers and one boat with which to patrol the border. Speaking to the Ontario Premier and to Prime Minister Trudeau, he asked for additional government help, for them to “flow the necessary adequate financial resources. We desperately need enhanced funding to get this job done.”
Canada’s gun owners are now familiar with the “unprecedented” lengths to which the Liberals are prepared to go to eliminate the lawful ownership of firearms. Bypassing Parliament to unilaterally impose expensive and futile gun control schemes is something of a hallmark of Justin Trudeau: more than two years ago, he imposed a sweeping “assault weapon ban” by means of a regulation. This misleading “temporary” handgun import ban, which the government’s own press release admits “will last until the national freeze comes into force” (even if that never happens) is just the latest example.