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Canada’s “Assault Weapon” Confiscation Delayed for Another Two Years

Monday, October 16, 2023

Canada’s “Assault Weapon” Confiscation Delayed for Another Two Years

In the latest sign that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s “assault weapon” gun ban and confiscation scheme is more concerned with persecuting responsible gun-owners than keeping Canadians safe, the amnesty period has (once again) been extended. 

Readers may recall the extreme language the Liberal government employed in May 2020 to justify the immediate necessity for the measure, citing the “inherent deadliness of assault-style firearms that are not suitable for civilian use” and claiming that the “newly prescribed firearms are primarily designed for military or paramilitary purposes with the capability of injuring, immobilizing or killing humans in large numbers within a short period of time …”

On October 12, in a move curiously devoid of similarly urgent rhetoric or publicity, Public Safety Canada, the federal government department responsible for enforcement and implementation, “quietly updated its website about the yet-to-be-developed firearms buyback program on Wednesday, saying the amnesty period that was set to expire at the end of the month will remain in place until Oct. 30, 2025.”

In fact, the gun ban and confiscation scheme, covering over 1,500 makes and models of arbitrarily classified “assault” firearms and devices, has been an unmitigated disaster from day one. It has careened from one blunder to another, starting with Trudeau’s unilateral imposition of the ban in 2020, bypassing elected lawmakers in Parliament to strip honest Canadians of their lawfully acquired property.

Trudeau’s ban took effect immediately and prohibited the possession and use of the banned guns. The 2020 order-in-council directed that “the Government intends to implement a buy-back program to compensate affected owners for the value of their firearms after they are delivered to a police officer; however, until a buy-back program is offered, affected owners will not be eligible for compensation. An option to participate in a grandfathering regime would also be made available for affected owners. Further public communications on the buy-back program and the grandfathering regime will follow later,” although owners were promised “fair compensation.” 

None of the administrative framework for implementing any of this was in place, so an “amnesty period” was needed as part of the law to “protect individuals, who were in lawful possession of one or more of the newly prohibited firearms or prohibited devices … from criminal liability for unlawful possession.” 

Two years later, when the initial amnesty expired on April 30, 2022, “further public communications” on the confiscation, compensation, and “grandfathering regime” remained on “to follow later” status, necessitating the extension of the amnesty period to October 30, 2023.

Canadians today still have no clue about how or when the Liberal government will implement its “assault weapon” ban, as the latest update of the “Firearms Buyback Program” website simply states that “program design” is “underway.”   

The overall cost (or just a reliable estimate) is another informational black hole, although one outside estimate calls the scheme the Trudeau government’s “multi-billion boondoggle.”

In fact, the only step towards implementation was the announcement of “phase one” earlier this year, pursuant to which gun industry representatives were to collect data on inventory levels and their value from participating dealers and distributors. This applies exclusively to licensed businesses, not individual owners, and will not involve confiscating or deactivating firearms covered by the ban. In one telling comment, an industry spokesperson estimated that “it could take years before a buyback program for retailers is up and running.”

Trudeau and his Liberal government sold the “assault weapon” ban to the public using promises of safer communities and making it harder for criminals to get and use these guns. In the three-plus years that the ban has been in place, when crime should have plummeted due to the alleged “inherent deadliness of assault-style firearms” and the fact that licensed owners are prohibited from using or selling their now-banned guns, violent crime in Canada “rose in 2022, reaching its highest point since 2007” and the homicide rate reached a level that has not been seen since 1992. 

Reacting to the news of the amnesty extension, Tony Bernardo, a spokesperson for the Canadian Shooting Sports Association, stated the obvious. The threat posed by the banned firearms “is so significant that five years later, by the time this amnesty expires, these firearms will still be in the possession of federally licensed, RCMP-vetted firearm owners ... If these firearms are so dangerous, …why did this Liberal government admit defeat by adding another two years to the deadline?” 

Anyone still unconvinced that there’s no underlying, compelling public safety justification should consider a story that Canada’s National Post newspaper broke early this month, describing how the Liberal government tightened the law in 2021 following an anti-gun group’s warning that it would excommunicate Trudeau unless its demand for the amendment was met. According to the Post, the PolySeSouvient group threatened to “disinvite” Trudeau from an annual commemoration because of its dissatisfaction with the voluntary “buyback” (possibly the grandfathering option of his “assault weapons” ban). “If the prime minister refused to change the policy, PolySeSouvient said Trudeau would be declared persona non grata at future commemorations… Later that year, the Trudeau government adjusted its policy so that its initial voluntary buy back became the mandatory confiscation the group had been demanding.”

Ironically, Trudeau’s “disinvite” could still be in the mail, as PolySeSouvient reportedly reacted to the latest amnesty announcement with a statement calling the extension “a testament to the government’s overall mishandling of the assault weapon file.” If nothing else, this exposes – for them and for everyone else – Trudeau’s political posturing for the performative nonsense it truly is.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.