The tabled amendments for firearms possession in Canada appear to be a bundle of mixed messages. On one hand, certain aspects of it make perfect sense. Giving a six-month grace period to renew an expired five-year licence has merit as currently firearms owners instantly become criminalized for neglected paperwork and face possible jail time.
But there is no “right” to possess firearms in Canada, according to a 1993 Supreme Court of Canada decision. It’s a privilege that’s regulated and licensed similar to how Canadians are allowed to drive cars, and drivers aren’t offered a six-month grace period once their five-year drivers’ licence has lapsed, nor are passports given the thumbs up for six months after their expiry date.
A mandatory Firearms Safety Course for first-time gun owners is definitely common sense; so is prohibiting people convicted of domestic violence from owning firearms. Yet the latter begs the question: what of other forms of violence or criminal activity?
Streamlining the licensing so that just one licence is required to acquire and own firearms also makes sense for law-abiding gun owners. But the elimination of red tape will also mean it will be easier for legal gun owners to transport restricted firearms — such as handguns — around their home province, but it’s not the law-biding demographic that we have to worry about.
According to a statement issued by the Coalition for Gun Control, which was founded in the wake of the Montreal Massacre, “Canada is one of the only countries in the world that is moving backwards: weakening its controls on firearms while other countries are introducing stronger laws to improve safety and combat the trafficking of firearms.”
Real common sense would be strengthening gun control, not relaxing it.