Gun lobby approves of further delays to Ottawa’s gun ‘buyback’ program

‘This was never about public safety. This was always about politics,’ says Tony Bernardo, Executive Director for the Canadian Shooting Sports Association (CSSA).

Gun lobby approves of further delays to Ottawa’s gun ‘buyback’ program
The Canadian Press / Justin Tang and The Canadian Press / Jason Franson
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Ottawa’s scheme to confiscate firearms faced another hurdle Wednesday, earning praise from a national gun lobby.

On October 11, cabinet deferred its gun control program until 2025, acknowledging stiff resistance from residents and elected officials, reported Blacklock’s Reporter.

“Justin Trudeau's Liberal Government both admitted defeat and created a political wedge issue for the next federal election,” said Tony Bernardo, executive director for the Canadian Shooting Sports Association (CSSA).

“This was never about public safety. This was always about politics,” he added. 

According to in-house research by Public Safety Canada, law-abiding gun owners widely denounced firearm confiscation, including for those designated as prohibited.

“Often the ban and the buyback program were seen as wasteful because the policy isn’t aimed at stopping illegal gun smuggling and sales,” said the research Buyback Program Awareness Campaign. 

“Most firearms owners did not see themselves or their peers as a major factor in gun crimes in Canada,” it said.

According to Blacklock’s Reporter, most firearms owners believe inner cities have the “highest rate of firearms violence in Canada” due to “gang violence, organized crime and general criminal activity.”

“Just 10 percent think small towns and rural areas have the highest rates,” said Buyback Awareness.

Asked, “How would you rate the performance of the Government of Canada when it comes to introducing measures to address gun-related violence,” half of respondents said the feds are either “poor” (26%) “fair” (24%). Just 15% called it “excellent.”

Cabinet in 2020 proposed mandatory buyback of some 200,000 firearms it considered “assault-style.” An amnesty period for owners was to expire this month.

“A Criminal Code amnesty period is currently in effect to October 30, 2023 and will be extended to October 30, 2025,” wrote the Department of Public Safety in a notice. 

While cabinet is “still developing a buyback program,” Public Safety Canada announced it has no deadline for its enforcement. It provided no reason for the delay, reported Blacklock’s Reporter.

“We are dedicated to moving forward with this program as quickly as we can,” then-Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino told reporters April 26. “It’s a program without precedent. It’s national in scale.”

“The government says these banned firearms ‘pose a significant threat to public safety,’” said Bernardo.

“That threat is so significant that five years later, by the time this amnesty extension expires, these firearms will still be in the possession of federally-licensed, RCMP-vetted firearms owners,” he added.

“If these [prohibited] firearms are so dangerous, such a threat to public safety, why did this Liberal government admit defeat by adding another two years to the deadline?” 

According to Blacklock's Reporter, most law-abiding gun owners remain skeptical of the ‘buyback’ plan, and many sympathize with those affected. 

“Many […] felt it was unfair to target people who had initially acquired their guns legally,” said Awareness.

“Less than half of those owners with prohibited firearms would now willingly participate in a buyback program, a sharp decline over the past year,” wrote researchers.

“A third would participate but only because it was mandatory. One in ten (12%) would refuse to participate at all,” they added.

Additionally, cabinet initially pegged the ‘buyback’ program at a minimum of $300 million in costs. However, the Parliamentary Budget Office predicted costs would range as high as $756 million.

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