Jordan Candler / Dec. 19, 2018

Canada’s ‘Gun-Control’ Harbinger

America can avoid a lot of headache simply by taking heed of the missteps of our northern neighbor.

In September, a CTV News survey reported that 48% of Canadians back “a total ban on handgun ownership.” Another 19% at least marginally endorse a total ban. That’s more than enough public appeal to arouse the gun-control predilections of Canadian politicians. And they aren’t missing a beat.

Writing in National Review, Institute of Criminology at Cambridge University researcher Vincent Harinam and Simon Fraser University professor emeritus Gary Mauser say that “talk of a national ban on handguns and ‘assault weapons’ has reached a fever pitch” in the aftermath of incidents in Toronto and Fredericton. As such, “Under orders from Prime Minister [Justin] Trudeau, Canadian border-security minister Bill Blair has chaired a series of closed-door consultations to determine the feasibility of such a law.”

Harinam and Mauser beseech Americans to take note. “Though Americans are rarely interested in Canadian politics,” they write, “American politicians often uphold Canadian firearms legislation as a model to be emulated. … The Canadian gun-ban debate may prove instructive for Americans looking to avoid the consequences of hasty, emotion-driven gun legislation. Three lessons can be gleaned, with each highlighting the pitfalls of a distorted national conversation and the ineffective legislation it breeds.”

The first lesson proclaims: “A failure to recognize past failures dictates calls for more restrictive legislation.” A long-gun registry that was imposed in 1995 not only included “error rates of 43 to 90 percent in firearm applications and registry information,” but the initial estimate “that the firearms program would cost only C$2 million … had ballooned to more than C$2.7 billion by 2012 — the year the registry was discontinued.” Moreover, “Canada banned over one-half of all legally registered handguns through a reclassification process. … Embarrassingly, the overall homicide rate dropped even more in the U.S. than in Canada, without the benefit of Canada’s maze of firearms restrictions.”

The second lesson states: “Politicians prefer grand gestures over measured policies.” According to the authors, “Canadian lawmakers have failed to address the primary driver of gun violence: gangs. Demands for gun control routinely displace calls for measured policies that target this problem. … As in the U.S., gang violence in Canada is concentrated in certain urban hubs. From 2013 to 2016, gang-related homicides doubled in census metropolitan areas.” Sadly, “The gun ban’s popularity remains high as political half-measures are designed to placate voters rather than protect them.” Sound familiar?

Finally, the third lesson cautions: “Long term and secondary consequences are rarely considered.” The authors observe, “Guns and drugs go hand in hand because the competitive nature of the drug trade demands violence for purposes [of] personal protection and eliminating rivals. … More drugs equate to more drug deals. And more drug deals yield additional gang violence. It is quite likely that gun violence in Canada would increase if handguns were banned. Then there’s the issue of corruption. In addition to cases of state corruption in Quebec and British Columbia, reports from 2007 and 2012 revealed hundreds of cases of corruption among Canadian police and federal officials. For the Canadian government, corruption is the elephant in the room. The expansion of illicit international supply lines is likely to create further opportunities for clandestine profit.”

America can avoid a lot of headache simply by observing what has transpired across our neighboring country.

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