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On May 1, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the prohibition of many models of semi-automatic weapons. The Liberals had promised this during the election and decided to follow through after the murder of 22 people in Nova Scotia by a shooter possessing semi-automatic handguns and rifles. This was not a knee-jerk action, but rather the result of decades of incidents with such weapons. In April , a Policy Options piece highlighted that the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police had expressed concern about the availability of guns like the AR since they had first begun to trickle into the Canadian market in the s.
The federal government used the classification system for firearms created in the late s to move some of these guns from the non-restricted to restricted , but other semi-automatic firearms remained available. They were not, however, particularly popular until the s. Some criminal incidents involved such guns in the s and s. In , a year-old man dressed in army fatigues shot several people at a youth hostel in British Columbia using a semi-automatic rifle.
Two years later, a gunman walked into a Montreal bar and murdered two staff and three patrons with an M-1 semi-automatic rifle. In , Saskatoon police shot an year-old hostage-taker after a lengthy standoff. The shooter was dressed in fatigues and armed with an AR In , an year-old from Etobicoke armed himself with a Heckler-Koch HK semi-automatic rifle with the intent of killing his ex-girlfriend.
When stopped by police, the teenager opened fire, killing Constable David Dunmore and injuring two others. The Montreal Massacre of , however, was the first incident to draw substantial public attention to the potential dangers of a semi-automatic rifle in the wrong hands. The shooter used a Ruger Mini rifle to murder 14 women. The Progressive Conservatives also prohibited or restricted some semi-automatic rifles, though others, including the Mini, remained non-restricted.
In recent years, firearm manufacturers have introduced many new models of semi-automatic guns. The announcement by Trudeau has garnered him worldwide attention and considerable praise, particularly when his action is juxtaposed with the reluctance of many American legislators to tighten gun controls after mass shootings.
Media have made comparisons to the quick steps New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern took to ban most semi-automatic rifles after the mass murder at a mosque in Christchurch in The government suggests that current owners might be able to retain their firearms under a provision to be included in future legislation. And, there will be a two-year amnesty period, during which gun owners can retain their weapons. Most importantly, the decision to ban certain models, rather than prohibit all weapons with similar characteristics and capabilities, means that many guns like those to be prohibited will remain on the market.
The government says that it chose the firearms to prohibit based on three considerations : 1 Does the gun have a semi-automatic action with sustained rapid fire capability? The of models that did not qualify using this analysis is unknown. But one example that illustrates the potential incoherence of the Liberal approach is the SKS rifle. The SKS originated in the s as a Soviet-deed military weapon. The Soviet Union, however, allowed other countries to produce the SKS, with the result that manufacturers in places like China and Yugoslavia made millions of SKS rifles and dozens of countries used it as a military firearm.
Advertisements for SKS rifles appear in Canadian newspapers in the s. In the same decade, there were several reports of SKS rifles used in criminal incidents. In , an Edmonton youth killed his uncle with an SKS. There are also more recent incidents. In the same year, Lionel Desmond legally purchased an SKS rifle , then killed his wife, daughter and mother. And, in , two teenagers legally purchased a SKS rifle in British Columbia, killed three people and sparked a massive manhunt until they committed suicide.
Despite this bloody record, the SKS rifle remains non-restricted. The Liberals should revise the statutory definition of non-restricted, restricted and prohibited weapons to ensure that guns that are functionally the same are categorized the same way. Photo: Shutterstock. You are welcome to republish this Policy Options article online and in print periodicals. We ask that you follow these guidelines. Please attribute the author s and mention that the article was originally published by Policy Options magazine. Editing the piece is not permitted, but you may publish excerpts.
Republish this article. Law Politics. Do you have something to say about the article you just read? Be part of the Policy Options discussion, and send in your own submission , or a letter to the editor. Blake Brown R. Originally published on Policy Options May 6, More like this Gun control. Related stories. Policy-making Social Policy New gun-control legislation needs to control replica guns to keep Canadians safe by Blake Brown March 23,Sks rifle buy
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The Liberal government’s incomplete “assault-style” rifle ban