Federal firearms ban misses mark—badly

On May 1, Prime Minister Trudeau issued an “order in council,” which immediately banned more than 1,500 types of legally-owned firearms “to combat gun violence and help keep us safe,” although the ban excluded firearms that function identically to the ones banned. The prime minister promises future legislation, which will answer questions raised by the confusing, if not confused, ban.

The ban, enacted during a pandemic without Parliamentary oversight, is the first step in the planned “buy back” of hundreds of thousands of lawfully-owned firearms. Many of the guns appear to have been banned for their appearance rather than functionality. The ban risks making criminals out of hundreds of thousands of law-abiding hunters and sport shooters and destroys an estimated billion dollars of inventory remaining in the retail supply chain. The affected firearms can only be transported to be deactivated, exported or surrendered to police. The government issued a two-year amnesty to assist with the implementation of the policies.

According to the government, the ban targets the “most prevalent assault-style firearms that are not suitable for hunting or sports shooting purposes.” Not only does the ban include many normal guns—even single-shot and bolt-action hunting rifles—but it also includes anti-tank guns, which can be found in military museums across the country. The ban may also include the dreaded t-shirt cannon featured at baseball games, since it has a bore diameter of more than 20 millimetres, tools such as the 8-bore industrial gun, and common 10-gauge and 12-gauge shotguns also because of their bore diameter. Until this confusion is resolved, American exporters have been warned that shipments of shotguns to Canada might be held at the border.