Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is – again – promising strict new gun control measures he claims are needed to stop criminals.
A unilateral ban on the import of handguns into Canada was announced, freezing out Canadians that follow the law and purchase handguns legally. Nothing in the measure, though, actually addresses criminals or the illegal networks that smuggle ill-gotten firearms into Canada and perpetuate crime there.
Prime Minister Trudeau slapped a ban on handgun imports until proposed legislation that would ban the sale and purchase of handguns, among other gun control measures, can be voted on by the Canadian Parliament. The import ban was a knee-jerk reaction after Canadians rushed to buy firearms when the Trudeau administration introduced legislation to end handgun sales.
Prime Minister Trudeau isn’t waiting for debate or a vote. He’s operating by executive fiat. He’s acting like a mini-tyrant and it’s not the first time he’s trampled on Canadians ability to own guns or even protest their own government.
Canada doesn’t have their own version of America’s Second Amendment that protects the pre-existing right to keep and bear arms. Gun control laws in Canada are much stricter than that of the United States. Canadians must obtain a license to posses a firearm, and handguns are treated like restricted or prohibited firearms, which means they all must be registered.
Prime Minister Trudeau exploited the tragedy in Uvalde to push the legislation to ban the sale of handguns and when Canadians reacted by buying more, Trudeau’s administration issued the emergency order to ban handgun imports. Since nearly all handguns sold in Canada are imported, this puts a near-total ban on the availability for law-abiding Canadians to legally obtain one. Those already in possession of handguns are allowed to keep theirs, for now.
Blow to Business
The import ban also means it will have impacts on U.S.-based handgun manufacturers that export to Canada. Firearm manufacturers in the United States exported 44,419 handguns (both revolvers and semiautomatic pistols) in 2021 that equaled nearly $20 million in business. Only first half of the year figures are available for 2022, but 33,638 handguns were exported, a 30.7 percent increase over the same time period in 2021, when 24,767 were exported. Exports in the first six months of 2022 is valued at over $16 million, a 45.3 percent increase over the same period in 2021, when it topped $10 million.
Handgun exports by U.S. firearm manufacturers so far in 2022 accounted for 18.4 percent of all international exports and were valued at 17.5 percent of handgun export value.
That’s a business Prime Minister Trudeau wants to shut down, just like he shut down Canadians on the sale and possession of Modern Sporting Rifles (MSRs). Trudeau’s administration – again, unilaterally – is still planning their national “buyback” of specified semiautomatic rifles, despite the fact the price tag is ballooning. His initial price tag for the taxpayer-funded government confiscation scheme was at $250 million. Previous similar Canadian government gun grab attempts, however, put the price tag closer to $600 million, and doubters admitted the real cost could be closer to $2.7 billion.
Canada already extended the deadline for MSR owners turn in their rifles or destroy them until Oct. 30. That’s because few Canadians are willing to give up their guns, The Reload reported.
Trampling on Rights
Speaking out against the bans in Canada could be dicey. Prime Minister Trudeau already proved he was willing to jail Canadians protesting COVD-19 lockdowns when he sent police to break up and jail protesters. Canada’s Parliament introduced legislation to regulate user-generated content on the web, like YouTube and Facebook.
Canada’s conservative newspaper, The National Post, warned that Canada doesn’t have strong protections for free speech. Freedom of expression is protected by Canada’s Charter of Rights, The National Post wrote, but, “The preamble to the Charter explicitly mentions that this freedom is subject to ‘reasonable limits.’ There’s also the other part of the Charter where provincial governments can steamroll any freedom they want, provided they publicly announce that they’re doing so.”
Prime Minister Trudeau’s oppressive edict and proposed legislation doesn’t actually address crime or criminal networks. The fact is, the United States government ensures that handgun exports to Canada are for legitimate sales. U.S. exports to Canada are vetted by the U.S. Commerce Department and approved Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) with end-user checks.
That means if the recipient of the exported handguns isn’t a legitimate and lawful business, the exports aren’t approved to leave the United States. Criminals aren’t importing handguns from U.S. manufacturers. Criminal networks are obtaining them illegally. NSSF, as the firearm and ammunition trade association, wants these illegal networks stopped.
That’s why NSSF partnered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for Don’t Lie for the Other Guy, to prevent illegal straw purchases of firearms. Firearms must be kept out of the hands of those who are prohibited and not the true purchaser of the gun.
Banning all imports of handguns to Canada doesn’t solve the crime problems north of the border. It only deprives those who can legally purchase a handgun from the ability to do so. It starves Canadians of the ability to protect themselves and doesn’t stop criminals from victimizing the innocent.
Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.