gun control

Canada Bans Assault Weapons

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau moves decisively on guns. Photo: David Kawai/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Like the United States, Canada is a country with relatively high levels of gun ownership. According to the Guardian, our neighbors to the north have 34.7 firearms per 100 persons, well below Uncle Sam’s 120 per 100 persons, but still a lot. Like the United States, Canada has experienced some harrowing gun massacres, most recently a shooting rampage in rural Nova Scotia that left 22 dead last month. And like the United States, Canada is polarized politically on the subject of gun regulation, with the left-of-center Liberals favoring it and the opposition Conservatives generally opposing it. Finally, public opinion in Canada, as in the United States, tends to favor tighter gun control.

But we’ve just seen a major difference in the political systems of the two countries, per the CBC:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today announced a ban on some 1,500 makes and models of military-grade “assault-style” weapons in Canada, effective immediately.

Starting today, licensed gun owners will no longer be allowed to sell, transport, import or use these sorts of weapons in this country.

“As of today, the market for assault weapons in Canada is closed,” Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said. “Enough is enough. Banning these firearms will save Canadian lives.”

American action on firearm regulation, however mild, is perpetually stalled by the gun lobby’s close alliance with the Republican Party, which has the power, even when it’s in the minority in Congress and doesn’t control the White House, to block measures via the legislative filibuster and various other dilatory tactics (viz. the 2013 background-check bill supported by massive public majorities across party lines, which failed to win the necessary 60 votes in the Senate).

Canada’s Liberals originally planned to enact their assault-gun ban via simple majority legislation, but instead used regulatory powers made available to the government during the coronavirus pandemic that has (in Canada and in the US) all but suspended the national legislature.

Trudeau’s plan has a two-year “amnesty” for assault-weapon owners, and plans to make compensation available for those who surrender them. In the meantime, trafficking in the military-style firearms will be prohibited.

Though Conservatives and gun groups are complaining loudly, it looks like the measure will be popular, notes the National Post:

A poll from the Angus Reid Institute also released Friday shows broad support for a ban on “civilian possession of assault weapons,” with 78 per cent of Canadians supporting the move and 65 per cent of people strongly in support.

A different system means a different result when it comes to majority rule.

Canada Bans Assault Weapons