Voices: Sport Shooters, Groups Respond to Possible Handgun Ban

TheGunBlog.ca — Following are comments by Canadian shooters, associations, manufacturers and others across Canada about a possible government ban on handguns. (Updated 07 August.)

(Update 07 August: Adds Jordana Goldlist.)

The government told TheGunBlog.ca today that it’s “open to all possible options” after The Globe and Mail reported late yesterday that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will decide next month whether to ban handguns, possibly by including the measure in Bill C-71.

The following comments (our emphasis) were made by phone or e-mail to TheGunBlog.ca, unless otherwise indicated. We will add to this as more comments come in.

Domenic Saverino, Owner
Al Flaherty’s Outdoor Store
Toronto, Ontario

Most of my customers are concerned about a handgun ban.

It is a possibility in Canada, as we do not have the right to bear arms in our constitution. Handgun ownership is seen as a privilege, not a right in our country.

In the event of a ban, the government would likely grandfather handgun owners, allowing them to continue to purchase and trade handguns. Recently, there is a rush among gun owners to purchase a handgun so that in the event of a ban, they would be grandfathered.

There is no easy fix to the problem. The fact that there are legal gun owners out there willing to buy and sell guns illegally for the purpose of profit is very real in Canada. How do we fix this problem and keep firearms out of the hands of criminals? I feel we need to stiffen the penalty for trafficking guns so that criminals do not take advantage of the laws that we currently have in place. The penalty must outweigh the crime.

Read: Al Flaherty’s Owner on Possible Gun Bans: ‘We Are Not Moving’

Anthony B., Individual Sport Shooter

I personally am tired of being associated with criminals simply because I have chosen to take all required legal steps to acquire firearms and become involved in the shooting sports.

Kim Britton
Canadian National Pistol Shooter

It is very important for shooters to introduce new people to the sport especially now. Educate, dispel myths and create positive experiences.

Daniel Fritter, Owner
Calibre Magazine
British Columbia

How it impacts me: Well, obviously as someone who works in the gun industry, a handgun ban represents a reduction in the overall industry size.

It represents a massive reduction in business within the industry, as it wouldn’t mean simply a reduction in gun sales, but also a massive reduction in accessories. Like modern sporting rifles, handgun owners are some of the most heavily invested gun owners, purchasing everything from gun safes to range bags to mags to holsters, gun belts, speed loaders, sights, etc.

On a personal level, the impact would obviously be felt as I own more than a few handguns, and enjoy shooting them immensely.

But more importantly, it would significantly erode my faith in our democratic system. That sounds hyperbolic, I know, but I do not know how else to describe the passage of such drastic and imposing legislation that will do nothing in reality but curry favour with an identified voting block.

[Minister of Public Safety] Ralph Goodale is not a stupid man; I must conclude that between him and his staff they have to know such a ban would prove useless at preventing violence, but cost a fortune to enact, and significantly impede on hundreds of thousands if not millions of Canadians’ lives. So the only conclusion I can reach, were they to ignore these facts and enact it anyway, is that I and the millions of gun owners like me are worth less than the voters they would be pandering to. Hence, I’d lose a lot of faith in our country’s leaders, and the institution they represent.

Tracey Wilson, Vice President of Public Relations
Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights
Ottawa, Ontario

I think the opportunity is before us to have an honest conversation in this country about gun control, crime and legal gun ownership.

Emotions run high in any high-stress situation and lawmakers are under pressure to “do something.” That ‘something’ doesn’t have to be targeted at gun owners, however.

The Minister has failed to follow through on his funding to law enforcement and the city of Toronto has failed to combat crime.

Removing freedoms from gun owners will not impact the crime numbers, Canadians know this. Nobody is more willing to have this conversation than gun owners. Before any legislation is passed, it should be backed by data that proves its positive impact on public safety. We will fight a handgun ban with every extent of our resources at the CCFR.

Tony Bernardo, Executive Director
Canadian Shooting Sports Association
Oshawa, Ontario

The CSSA will oppose any firearms ban with every resource at our disposal.

Our members have not committed any crime or transgression against Canadians and we refuse to shoulder the blame for the deeds of madmen.

Any attack upon our community by the Trudeau Liberals will be aggressively responded to.

Wes Winkel, Owner
Ellwood Epps Sporting Goods
Orillia, Ontario

About 25 percent of my sales are handgun driven. A handgun ban would definitely lead to a loss of jobs and a loss of business. If it affects my largest importer, it would affect my supply chain, and that affects my business.

We still have a very large clientele in the GTA [Greater Toronto Area]. Obviously, we would lose some market for sure. As a guy who sells used guns, it would flood the market with handguns for sale with no buyers.

James Cassells, Director of Canadian Sales
Former Toronto SWAT
Toronto, Ontario

We banned marijuana at one time … how did that work out?
I am 100 percent for a ban on all illegal guns.

Jordana Goldlist, Criminal Defence Lawyer and Firearms Enthusiast
Toronto, Ontario

I think any reduction in illegal gun use needs to examine why so many youth are becoming involved in drug and street crime. Obviously a handgun ban or similar nonsense will not stop them.

As legal gun owners, we know what it takes to get licensed and comply with our already-too-strict gun laws here in Canada. Those using firearms illegally are ignoring the current laws and will not be deterred by expanding them.

We need to address the underlying issues: poverty, alienation, and a lack of guidance are key. You are absolutely right: there is no quick fix. The current situation is the result of decades of turf wars for gangs and battles over drug territory. These disputes are now fueled by social media.

Mark Hynes
Competitive Pistol Shooter, National Team
Ottawa, Ontario

The idea of a total ban is a knee-jerk reaction that might gain political points, but will fail in actually achieving its intended effect — reduced crime.

If a ban were to be put into effect, my ability to compete on the national team would be negatively impacted while criminals ran around with guns as much as they ever did.

Sheldon Clare, President
National Firearms Association
Edmonton, Alberta
(Excerpts from NFA press release)

This knee-jerk reaction would have serious ramifications. Even considering such a ban shows this government’s contempt for the rights and property of Canadians.

The terrorist who perpetrated the Toronto attack, which resulted in the murders of two innocents and the wounding of many more, possessed no firearms license, no registration, no authorizations and used a stolen firearm. This is a classic example of the failure of gun laws to stop a person of ill intent from carrying out an evil act.

… No gun control law or firearms ban has anything whatsoever to do with public safety. … Lawful ownership and use of firearms of any type has nothing whatsoever to do with criminal misuse, or terrorist acts.”

Canada’s National Firearms Association strongly opposes firearms bans and calls for fundamental reform of Canada’s oppressive and unreasonable firearms laws. These laws have never fulfilled claims of providing public safety. … The NFA will ensure that MPs who support more bad gun laws will feel the anger of Canadian firearms owners at the ballot box in the next election.

Doug McComber
Kingston, Nova Scotia

A ban on civilian handgun ownership is nothing less than a blatant attempt to win urban votes at the expense of a lawful segment of society that is oft maligned by the Liberal Party of Canada. Yet the real outrage is its failure to actually address the perpetrators of gun crime and violence in our big cities. The victims and their families will not be served at all by such a ban.

Keith Robb, Sport Shooter
Mississauga, Ontario

This ban is a major restriction on the liberties of citizens in this country. It is government overreach, especially when they are not dealing with the issues. And yes, it feels like a personal attack against law-abiding citizens.

Stefan S., Sport Shooter

I have been involved in this sport since the age of 12 (I am now 34) with my father who has been an active member of the firearms community for 35 years.

I enjoy this sport and the people of the firearms community. It is sickening to see how the media, local politicians and the federal government are handling this issue.

Instead of vilifying legal firearms owners, our elected officials should take a stand and focus on the root cause of violence in Canadian cities instead of letting the media and people who are not educated in the area of firearms or firearms law influence their decisions.

Banning any kind of legal firearms ownership will do nothing to stop violent crime in Canadian cities.

Dennis R. Young
Independent Firearms Researcher
Former RCMP Officer and Legislative Assistant
Airdrie, Alberta

The first problem with banning handguns owned by and registered to their RCMP-licensed gun owners is that gangs will still have no problem getting guns whether the crime guns be smuggled into Canada, stolen from the police and the military or manufactured in the gangs own machine shops.

The second problem is that when the gangbangers are finally caught by police, convicted for their crimes and prohibited from owning firearms by the judge, the police don’t even have the authority under the Firearms Act to demand that these convicted criminals report their change of address to police – only RCMP licensed gun owners are required to do that or face a penalty of up to two years in jail.

RZV, National Competitive Shooter
Toronto, Ontario

The circumstances are very tragic. I think after the family of those impacted by these kindss of shootings, the legal firearm-owner community is the one that feels more sorrow for the victims (at least for me) than the politicians, since we know that the “tools of our trade” have the enjoyment component that is not well understood by most. Unfortunately there is also potential for misuse and when this happens, the headline-grabbing articles become more prominent and politicians will jump at any opportunity to show their faces on camera and blah, blah, blah…

Also from what I have seen, the new shooters (at least in my club) do not see the sporting side of it and they are not that interested in shooting matches and competition. This will eventually lead to the anti-gun movement winning.

There are far more lethal and detrimental elements in our society that do go unmentioned in the media and by politicians. Alcohol abuse damages society in so many ways, health, family, drunk driving. Usually when a drunk driver kills someone, the media cover it fairly briefly and treat it as an accident in which the person is charged with “impaired driving.” It does not become sensationalized news.

Even if we ban firearms, there are still many people who use a deadly weapon on a daily basis (car, trucks) and let’s not forget the kitchen knife!

Removing “gun” from “gun violence” will leave us with just plain “violence.”

I just hope that [Ontario Attorney General] Caroline Mulroney includes some representative from the sporting side of the shooting sports in her “working group” to solve Toronto’s “gun” problem.

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