After the federal government unveiled a new “assault-style” gun ban earlier this month, almost nine in 10 Canadians believe Ottawa should be spending more to crack down on firearms smuggled across the Canada-U.S. border, according to a new poll conducted by Ipsos exclusively for Global News.
And while a third of Canadians believe the recent ban on 1,500 of those weapons goes too far, eight in 10 say they agree with the move and about 70 per cent believe all handguns should be prohibited as well, the poll suggests.
On May 1, in the aftermath of one of Canada’s deadliest mass killings, federal officials announced a ban against the use, sale, import or transport of 1,500 “models and variants of assault-style firearms” in Canada, effective that day.
The decision included a two-year amnesty period for current owners of those types of weapons and officials said Ottawa will eventually roll out a buyback program through legislation.
The Ipsos poll suggests 82 per cent of those surveyed either strongly (54 per cent) or somewhat (27 per cent) agree with banning “assault-style” weapons.
That’s the language used by the government but isn’t actually a legal classification in Canada.
Regionally, support for the assault-style gun ban is highest — 89 per cent — in the province of Quebec, shaken by mass shootings over the last three decades at École Polytechnique, Dawson College and at a mosque in Quebec City.
Support is lowest in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, at 57 per cent.
But support for the new restrictions didn’t fully translate into a belief that they will help reduce gun violence in the country, according to the Ipsos poll.
Will the assault-style gun ban be effective? Not all Canadians convinced
About 68 per cent of Canadians agree the ban will be effective, the poll suggests. Regionally, that belief was again highest in Quebec at 80 per cent and lowest in Saskatchewan and Manitoba at 42 per cent.
In an interview with Global News about the new restrictions, the vice-president of operations at Chimera Firearms Training in Oshawa, Ont., argued that Canadian-owned and sourced guns aren’t responsible for “the bulk of the crime” in the country.
“It’s typically handgun crime coming from the U.S.,” Mike Anderson said.
“Guns smuggled in from the States, weapons smuggled in from the States… places where they don’t have the restrictions that we have because it is so difficult to get a firearm here.”
The Ipsos poll suggests about 87 per cent of Canadians agree the federal government should increase funding to prevent and suppress the smuggling of assault-style guns into Canada.
According to the poll, that support was 85 per cent or higher across Canada’s different regions but surged to 96 per cent in Atlantic Canada, where 22 people were killed by a gunman in Nova Scotia in April.
The RCMP, which is investigating the mass shooting, has previously said one of the firearms the gunman used in the attacks was obtained in Canada, while the other weapons appear to have been obtained in the United States.
When the federal government unveiled its new firearms ban two weeks after the shooting, it was “a little confusing” to stakeholders and gun owners “because it’s not consistent with any of the other regulations that we have to follow,” Anderson told Global News.
He said that confusion has worsened, arguing the wording in the regulations and the language used in media reports “aren’t quite clear.”
3 in 10 say ban goes too far, 7 in 10 support handgun prohibition
One in three Canadians — or 33 per cent — either strongly or somewhat agree that the federal government has overreached with the ban introduced in early May, the Ipsos poll suggests.
Conversely, seven in 10 respondents told Ipsos they strongly agree (38 per cent) or somewhat agree (33 per cent) that the federal government should go further on gun control and pass legislation that includes a ban on handguns.
The restrictions on assault-style firearms didn’t require approval by Parliament and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said the government is working on gun legislation to bring forward when the COVID-19 crisis has passed.
Officials have signaled that bill, among other things, will give municipalities the power to effectively ban handguns within their city limits.
But leaving that decision up to the municipalities will result in “chaos,” according to Nathalie Provost, a survivor of the 1989 massacre at École Polytechnique in Montreal.
In an interview with Global News, Provost, who advocates for stricter gun control, argued for a national handgun ban, insisting the federal government should be the one to “close the faucet.”
“It would be the minimum they can do on hand guns,” she said.
“It’s not very, very difficult. People could keep what they have in their hands … but I think it has to be a federal law.”
Regionally, Quebecers are the strongest cheerleaders for a ban on all handguns, with 80 per cent of respondents from that province in favour of the idea, according to the Ipsos poll.
Moderate and strong support for a handgun ban was highest among respondents aged 55 and older. In general, a higher proportion of older Canadians expressed strong support for the federal government’s assault-style weapons ban and further spending on measures to stop illegal gun smuggling.
The Ipsos poll results also suggest that support for the ban on assault-style guns is stronger among women (87 per cent) than men (76 per cent) — and men are more likely to agree (39 per cent) than women (27 per cent) that the government went overboard with the ban.
The idea of a widespread ban on handguns is also more popular among women (78 per cent) than men (63 per cent).
— With files from Global News’ Amanda Connolly, Andrew Russell and Stewart Bell
Exclusive Global News Ipsos polls are protected by copyright. The information and/or data may only be rebroadcast or republished with full and proper credit and attribution to “Global News Ipsos.”
This Ipsos poll on behalf of Global News was an online survey of 1,000 Canadians aged 18+ conducted between May 8 and 11, 2020. The results were weighted to better reflect the composition of the adult Canadian population, according to census data. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is considered accurate to within plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.