Banning what is already illegal does not sound like a smart way to keep guns out of the hands of gangsters. Despite Canada’s strict controls on firearms, gangsters still seem to be able to get what guns they need.
So where do criminals get their guns?
The police focus on lawful firearms owners (PAL holders) as a key source. Unfortunately, they cannot produce any empirical supportfor their claims that thefts and “straw purchases” are major conduits for guns used in violent crime.
Previous gun bans were ineffective.
Handgun murders did not decrease after the Liberal government of Jean Chrétien banned over half of all legal handgunsin 1995.
In February 1995, even though handguns had been required to be registered since the 1930s and had been tightly controlled ever since, Allan Rock (then-Justice Minister) decided to ban over half of all legally registered handguns by re-classifying them as “prohibited” when the government introduced Bill C-68 in the House of Commons. To avoid paying compensation, the government “grandfathered” the owners of the newly prohibited guns, allowing them to keep their firearms, but they could no longer take them to shooting ranges.
Unsurprisingly, the handgun ban did not reduce handgun homicide. Despite the continued decline in the use of firearms in homicides during the next decade, handgun homicides increased (from 46% to 51% of homicides involving a firearm).
Handgun homicides increase
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In fact, for the past 10 years (2007-2016), knives were used more often to commit homicide than firearms (1,723 total knife victims to 1,579 total firearm victims over the decade).
The reason that the handgun ban was counterproductive is not hard to find: gang-related homicides more than doubled.
Firearms used in homicide are overwhelmingly illegally held, so bans are irrelevant. Enforcement might work, but, for many “progressive” reasons Canadian police and courts are reluctant to enforce the law.
Gang-related homicides drive gun crime
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Recent analyses of current Statistics Canada data confirms what StatsCan researcher Orest Fedorowitz pointed out in Homicide in Canada – 2000:
“The data suggest that most firearms used in handgun-related homicides were not registered and the suspects were not licensed firearm users.”