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Gun bans are useless because criminals don’t follow the law

February 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a promise during last year’s election to ban “assault rifles” if re-elected and with the new session of Parliament this year, he has made it clear that he will follow through with this ban.

Well Prime Minister, how do you plan to enforce this ban, a ban that includes the popular AR-15 rifle; a rifle that has not been a problem in Canada?

Now let’s be clear; I’m not saying that all laws related to firearms are useless. Many are not only responsible, they are necessary. Canada already has very strict laws not only for gun ownership and use, but for obtaining and keeping the firearms licence required to legally buy a firearm in the first place. Under current law, incidents involving violence or threats of violence, or suicidal intentions are enough for a judge to order revocation of a firearms licence and the seizure of any firearms in that person’s possession.

I sent an e-mail to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, asking him several questions. I didn’t receive an answer, but the Globe & Mail quoted Blair addressing some of what I asked him: Do you plan to tighten-up the requirements for offenders to obtain bail? Will you allow police and the courts to adequately enforce bail conditions?

Will you allow police to target and arrest gang members who not only brazenly carry illegally obtained and possessed handguns, but very brazenly use them with little regard for any innocent civilians who may get hit by a bullet fired from that gun?

Will you ensure that the courts fully prosecute everyone who breaks these bans by willfully, and very often these days, brazenly carrying banned firearms? Will you ensure that offenders spend a significant amount of time behind bars? Will you allow police and the courts to properly enforce parole and probation conditions after release?

Will you allow Toronto Police to re-introduce their School Resource Officer Program? Will you allow police services to re-introduce carding?

Minister Blair’s answer in the Globe & Mail, published on 3 February 2020, included the statement: “I want to make sure we have strong legislation that will include penalties and offences, new authorities for our police and our border agencies to be more effective at keeping those guns out,” Mr. Blair said. “And finally, we know that there is a really big problem with criminal diversion, where people are buying legally and selling them illegally. [We want] to make sure the police have the means to catch these guys and prosecutors have the tools they need to convict them and that there are real consequences when they get caught and convicted.”

Toronto is currently in the midst of a rash of gang-related shootings, and the gang-bangers use handguns, which are already very heavily restricted and have been since 1934, not long rifles whether an AR-15 or not, as they are harder to conceal. Other than a few exceptions (eg: the Parliament Hill shooter), there aren’t a lot of criminals walking around with rifles. Unless it’s hunting season in a rural area, doing that will get a quick reaction from police with their firearms drawn.

That gang-banger shooting up a neighbourhood is already violating several criminal and firearms act laws, so what makes you think that by banning guns, any guns, it will make them think twice about carrying or shooting their guns? They DON’T CARE, which is why they are criminals! This is in addition to the fact that carrying an unregistered handgun, one that is probably also illegally obtained, is already illegal.

How does banning any firearm stop people who are determined to commit something that is already illegal? Murder, attempted murder and any other incidents that result in injury or death from the careless and dangerous use of firearms, are already illegal. That’s the issue that politicians who advocate for firearms bans fail to answer.

As mentioned above, Trudeau’s current plan to ban firearms would include the AR-15 rifle, which as Trudeau has specifically mentioned, was infamously used in mass shootings in the United States, including Parkland and Sandy Hook.

While both of these were tragic, as are all shootings of innocent people, how is penalizing lawful AR-15 gun owners going to save any lives? AR-15s are already heavily regulated and if you are doing anything other than transiting between your home and a licenced shooting range, you are already violating the law, regardless whether it is actually fired or even loaded.

So far, politicians have done a very poor job of enforcing the laws that we already have on the books; laws that might have an effect if they were properly enforced.

Why not just enforce the laws we already have and hand out stiff sentences for those who violate those laws? None of these or any other mass shootings we’ve had in Canada wouldn’t have been prevented by a gun ban. Banning the AR-15 is a solution in search of a problem. Other than a botched mob-hit in Woodbridge, AR-15 aren’t used in shootings in Canada.

Despite popular opinion by the anti-gun crown, the AR-15 is not a military rifle. It’s a semi-automatic rifle, not a full-automatic, which is already banned in Canada. The magazines are restricted to 5 rounds and it’s no more powerful that a .30-30 rifle, one of the lower calibre rifles used in moose hunting. However, the reality is that a .30-06 or a .308 are a better choice, not only for moose hunting, but as a rifle for armies going to war. The AR-15 may look “scary,” but it and the military version of the rifle used by Canadian and American militaries, the C-7 and M-16 respectively, are on the lower end of firepower.

It should also be pointed out that there is currently no legal definition for a ‘military-style assault rifle’ in Canada, but that’s a minor issued for the gun-ban crowd (or maybe that’s on purpose, as a vague definition broadens the opportunity for interpretation).

To those who support gun bans, I have to ask if you support jailing criminals who misuse firearms, such as those who are shooting up Toronto right now with illegally-possessed handguns, regardless of whether they actually hit anyone? Let’s do something that will actually work to curb gun violence, not banning rifles that MAY be used, but history has shown are rarely used in criminal offences.

The talking points that Trudeau and others in favour of gun bans are only pandering to the uninformed voter and designed to make it seem like they are doing something.

Once upon a time alcohol was banned. How did that work? Have you ever heard of the underground market? The underground cigarette market is a booming industry. It never ceases to amaze me how many people honestly believe banning anything that is not a hunting rifle will have an impact on those bent on committing crimes while using those guns.

One thing that needs to be done is better interdiction of guns being smuggled across the border, including on First Nations that straddle the border, along with harsh sentences for those charged with offences involving firearms.

In a discussion forum on Facebook, I had many anti-gun liberals making ridiculous and ill-informed arguments:

“Sounds like the same arguments used in the States and we know how well that works.” Canada has different laws and a different attitude towards guns. Any comparisons to American attitudes is missing the point.

“Who needs that much fire power? Why? Are you going to war? It seems the gun people want weapons of destruction. I get the need for a rifle, hunting ect., but I do not see the need for heavy fire power like that. Ban them, get them out of this country, go back to your rifle and enjoy it…”

“Assault weapons have no place here.”

As I said above, there are hunting rifles that are more powerful than an AR-15, but they don’t look “scary.”

“So now that they (AR-15) are illegal for hunting, why do you still want one?”

My answer of it’s a free country and that I can own an AR-15 if I wish, didn’t seem to satisfy this person. Why do some people still buy Playboy magazine when there is plenty of free porn on the internet, I asked? Because this is still a free country and as long as you are following the law, you can do what you want. You may not want to own any firearms, but lots of other people do want them.

Other comments included supporting a gun ban included:

“easy. Because that weapon will not be able to get into their hands. Do you really think it’s only hand guns the bad guy have? Think again.. “

” by limiting access to the number of available guns.”

What none of these posters were able to answer is exactly how many kids in Canada are walking into schools with AR-15 rifles? You do know the difference between CBC and CNN, right? Now, since you are refusing to answer my question, I will conclude that you can’t answer it because you only know downtown Toronto liberal (Big “L” and small “L”) talking points. Good bye.

Some used the argument that restricting the number of guns available will limit the number of guns stolen or found by children.

Well in reality, all firearms are legally required to be locked in a gun vault, with legal penalties for failure to do so. I also put trigger locks on all of mine. This still wasn’t good enough for some of the people I engaged on this forum:

“Gun vault or not. People know the combination. Many can get it. Not just gangs that have guns. Are those school shootings gang related? Nope. Just some kid walking in with dad’s AR-15 or some other powerful weapon that daddy doesn’t need. AR-15 is one of them.”

Many posters keep bringing up the USA and their gun culture when supporting gun bans in Canada. The USA has different attitudes than Canada does regarding firearms. I’m happy to be living in a country like Canada, where I can own firearms if I wish to, but don’t feel that I need to have them with me at all times.

I don’t own handguns, nor do I intend to, let alone feel the need to carry one around with me like a lot of Americans do, but I respect the rights of those who do want to own them, so long as they do it lawfully. The few people who would use an AR-15 in the commission of a crime would similarly not give a damn either, just to clarify the point.

A constant talking point is that, “illegal guns that were sold to someone by a legal.gun owner who bought it first, got sick of said gun, sold it and now it has found it’s way to the street. So, maybe gun owners need to start turning in their guns and not selling them privately. NO lies here, just some pretty clear facts. But don’t be that conservative and try to spin the con wheel. Stop selling your guns privately. Be reasonable as you claim you are. Because selling it and losing track of it, is not a responsible gun owner.”

My reply to that talking point made by a poster was to remind him not to be one of those Liberals who, as I mention above, believe that banning guns will stop the gang-bangers who are shooting up our cities with illegally obtained handguns.

I asked him where do he stands on enforcing the laws already have laws on the books; the same laws that the criminals already don’t care about because they are criminals? Should that gang-banger caught with an illegal handgun, the ones that are actually used in crimes across Canada, be denied bail and subject to very long mandatory minimum sentences?

Much to my surprise, and very unlike most Liberals, this poster agreed with tougher bail and mandatory minimum sentences. However, he insisted that, “Bail is set by the judge. He or she can deny bail at anytime for whatever reason. We have mandatory sentencing already. So those said things are already in place.”

While both are technically true, the rest of the story is that Trudeau promised to repeal some of the mandatory minimums enacted by Harper, and instructed Jody Wilson-Raybould in her mandate letter in 2015 to implement a review. Additionally, The Globe and Mail reported in March 2018 that “In dozens of cases, most of them in the past three years, judges have declined to apply the minimum sentences required in a variety of gun and drug crimes and sexual offences against children, The Globe and Mail has found in a review of the Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII) national database of court rulings.”

As for bail, justices of the peace have continued to release violent criminals, including repeat violent criminals, on bail, despite (or maybe IN-spite of) calls for tougher bail requirements. So while his support for such tougher actions is appreciated, the reality is there is still resistance from the courts, which is my point in the first place.

This poster also asked if I was a gun owner, to which I replied that it shouldn’t matter. We should all be concerned about a government so willing to ban and seize property for spurious reasons. I don’t own handguns and have no desire to own one, but I would still object if the government set out to ban completely them too, especially given how the already strict regulations for handguns (on the books since 1934) hasn’t stopped one gang-banger from illegally possessing and using them.

As for citing countries like Australia and New Zealand as examples of countries that have successfully managed to ban unwanted guns within their borders, the cold, hard truth is that it’s a lot easier to restrict the importation, legal or illegal, of firearms when your country is an island. What is Trudeau going to do about the firearms being smuggled across the Canada-US border, especially the ones coming across the First Nations territories?

This poster, however, just wouldn’t concede to logic and kept up

“So do you sell your guns privately? You see this is where your logic fails you, you think every “gang banger” got his gun ( which was at one time purchased by someone like you) illegally, if said gun of yours was never sold privately , said “gang banger” wouldn’t have any to buy.”

“Yet, Judge’s have the final say in any court decision that is made, only guild line they have is what ‘maximum sentence” they can give. It seems to be you have a beef about the Justice system that you really don’t understand at all.Government mandates min/max sentences, the final say is up to the Judge, so your beef would be with a Judge, not the goverment, as they do not sit on the bench and hand out such sentences.”

“So it seems to me that you are very clueless on 2 things here, gun control, as you supply zero logic as to why we shouldn’t have it, and 2: court system that you are very clueless on.”

My response: 1. I don’t sell guns privately. I have kept all the guns that I have bought. 2. Unless said gang-banger has a P.A.L., they have bought it illegally. It also must be registered, and registered to them, as all handguns have been since 1934, but that’s not happening. Do I also need to point out that you can only legally use a handgun at a licenced gun range, not the middle of Yonge Street? 3. While some unethical gun owners may sell them illegally to those who don’t have a P.A.L., they are the problem; not the ones who follow the law, which is the vast majority of gun owners. 4. Please tell me where gang-bangers are legally buying their guns. 5. A judge may have the final say in imposing a sentence, but it is the federal government that sets the laws in the first place. 6. Some judges see themselves as social-justice warriors and have refused to impose mandatory sentences 7. I do understand gun control and the limitations that it has, including the fact that criminals don’t care about gun controls. They don’t care about laws, which is why they are criminals, so you can ban all the guns you want; they will still get them. Handguns have been HEAVILY restricted since 1934, yet that hasn’t stopped criminals in Canada from acquiring and using them to shoot up our cities. 8. Justin is banning guns that aren’t a problem in Canada…. “Military grade assault weapons” is an invented term that has no legal definition. Automatic rifles are already banned, which is a good thing as they have no value as hunting or sporting rifles.

Also already banned are the rocket launchers Trudeau has just banned again. Does he really think we are that stupid? Apparently he thinks enough people are stupid! 10. I do understand the court system very well. I’ve spent a lot of time in courts; on the good side. Shall I go on?

Although I do enjoy passing on facts to people like the ones who tired to challenge me on this issue, sometimes it gets really frustrating that they refuse to see that the sky is blue and water is wet. What we really need, besides an honest discussion on gun control, is an honest discussion and action on violators of the firearms laws that we currently have on the books; not making law-abiding gun owners into criminals.

Until we do have an honest discussion, we will still have criminals using guns and we will still have low-information voters believing the lies and half-truths told by the gun-hating politicians; the politicians who will continue to confiscate our property. Maybe some day, they will decide to confiscate something the low-information voter actually cares about.

https://www.quora.com/How-much-less-lethal-is-a-lever-action-30-30-Winchester-94-than-an-AR-15, https://globalnews.ca/news/5928779/justin-trudeau-assault-rifle-ban, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_massacres_in_Canada, https://www.thepostmillennial.com/liberal-mps-letter-to-bill-blair-applauded-by-gun-owners, https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-ottawa-to-adopt-red-flag-laws-to-allow-courts-to-confiscate-guns, https://torontosun.com/opinion/columnists/lilley-trudeau-liberals-off-target-again, https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/mandatory-minimum-sentencing-rules-unravelling-into-patchwork/article38205652, https://globalnews.ca/news/6381260/mandatory-minimums-justice-reform, https://torontosun.com/news/crime/accused-gun-toters-freed-on-bail-despite-prior-records-and-weapon-bans.

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/gun-bans-are-pretty-much-useless-because-criminals-dont-follow-the-law/

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