The federal Liberal government has tabled sweeping new gun control legislation, and some Canadian firearms owners are not pleased.
Among the proposed new regulations are lifetime background checks, a requirement that vendors keep records for 20 years, and a requirement to present a license when buying rifles and shotguns.
Sheldon Clare, president of the National Firearms Association, says the rules will do nothing to stop crime and will hurt law-abiding gun owners.
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“I think its nonsense. It’s another unnecessary set of firearms control regulations and regime that will have nothing whatsoever to do with preventing any crime,” Clare told CKNW’s The Simi Sara Show.
Clare argued that background checks do little or nothing to predict future behaviour, and said that extending them from the current five-years to a full lifetime is unfair to people that have made mistakes in the past, but have changed.
He said tying mental-health red flags to those long-term checks could also be unfair to returning Canadian soldiers.
Clare also argued that the statistics do not back up the effectiveness of gun control.
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“The Canadian research is very clear that none of the Canadian firearms control regimes from the 1970s forward to 2008 have had any effect whatsoever on crime rates, violent crimes, spousal violence or anything to do with firearms issues,” Clare said.
That view is controversial. Canada introduced a slew of gun control measures between 1976 and the present, including the requirement for gun owners to have a license, tightened background checks, waiting periods and restrictions on automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines.
According to Statistics Canada, over that same period both firearm-related and non-firearm-related homicides have dropped. However, gun-related homicides fell by 45 per cent, while those not involving a firearm fell just 22 per cent.
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Clare, however, attributes recent declines in crime rates to demographic shifts, with baby-boomer men ageing out of their violent years.
But while Clare argues the new gun control rules will do nothing to affect violent crime, he said they will have significant impacts on law-abiding citizens.
While the federal government insists the new rules do not include a gun registry, Clare argued the enhanced record keeping on sales could create a database that would be shared with other levels of government, amounting to a de-facto registration system.
“Which, historically, has only been used for one purpose, and that is to take away people’s property when the government decides citizens should not have it. It’s civil disarmament.”
The rules appear designed to intentionally push people away from legal gun ownership, he added, and said the record-keeping provisions would also hurt business and events like gun shows.
“It just adds another bureaucratic and unnecessary step,” he said. “I’ve been at many gun shows and I’ve never been in a safer place in the country.”
Clare further argued that nothing in the new rules will prevent suicides, which make up a large proportion of gun-related deaths.
He said that instead of tightening gun laws, the government should focus its efforts on anti-bullying activities and initiatives to identify people who are in mental crisis and need help.