Do the results of government questionnaire on handguns truly reflect how Canadians feel?

Do the results of government questionnaire on handguns truly reflect how Canadians feel?


Eighty per cent of respondents said “no” to the question of more limits to access to handguns. Some gun-control advocates don’t buy those results

A large majority of the 130,000 Canadians who responded last fall to a government questionnaire on new restrictions on handguns and “assault” weapons were opposed, newly released records show.

Doubts are being raised about the reliability of an online government questionnaire last fall that gauged how Canadians feel about possible new restrictions on handguns and assault-style weapons.

Recently released documents show a large majority of the 130,000-plus respondents said they were opposed to tightening restrictions. But proponents of stricter gun control say the questionnaire was highly vulnerable to manipulation and don’t believe the results represent the views of most Canadians.

“I suspect that we shouldn’t put too much stock in that particular poll,” said Dr. Alan Drummond, a spokesman for the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians, which last week issued a called for “comprehensive legislation to end firearms violence in Canada.”

Following a mass shooting in Toronto last summer that killed two people and injured 13 others, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tasked Bill Blair, the minister of border security and organized crime reduction, with exploring a “full ban on handguns and assault weapons, while not impeding the lawful use of firearms by Canadians.”

Consultations began last October with the minister holding roundtable discussions across the country and launching a public online questionnaire from Oct. 11 through Nov. 10. Dennis Young, an Alberta firearms researcher and blogger, recently obtained through an access-to-information request the results of that questionnaire.


Doubts are being raised about the reliability of an online government questionnaire last fall that gauged how Canadians feel about possible new restrictions on handguns and assault-style weapons.

Recently released documents show a large majority of the 130,000-plus respondents said they were opposed to tightening restrictions. But proponents of stricter gun control say the questionnaire was highly vulnerable to manipulation and don’t believe the results represent the views of most Canadians.

“I suspect that we shouldn’t put too much stock in that particular poll,” said Dr. Alan Drummond, a spokesman for the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians, which last week issued a called for “comprehensive legislation to end firearms violence in Canada.”

Following a mass shooting in Toronto last summer that killed two people and injured 13 others, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tasked Bill Blair, the minister of border security and organized crime reduction, with exploring a “full ban on handguns and assault weapons, while not impeding the lawful use of firearms by Canadians.”

Consultations began last October with the minister holding roundtable discussions across the country and launching a public online questionnaire from Oct. 11 through Nov. 10. Dennis Young, an Alberta firearms researcher and blogger, recently obtained through an access-to-information request the results of that questionnaire.

Of the 133,539 people who responded, 107,448 — or 80 per cent — answered “no” to the question, “Should more be done to limit access to handguns?” Similarly, when asked whether more should be done to limit access to “assault,” or rapid-fire, weapons, 102,221 — or 76 per cent — said “no.”

To further restrict handguns for law abiding firearms owners is like trying to prevent drunk driving by making it harder for sober drivers to own cars

But Drummond, who himself is a gun owner, said the results do not jibe with recent public opinion polls that show a majority of Canadians favour tighter restrictions. He suggested the most “vociferous” opponents mobilized to sway the outcome of the questionnaire.

“They have used a fairly aggressive social media campaign. … Everyone in their right mind suspects there is (National Rifle Association) support for their effort,” he said, referring to the large gun lobby in the United States.