Moe, Scheer line up against Ot­tawa’s pro­posed ban

Spate of shoot­ings in Toronto sparked lat­est fed­eral weapon con­trol ini­tia­tive

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - FRONT PAGE - ALEX MacPHER­SON With Cana­dian Press files amacpher­son@post­media.com twit­ter.com/macpher­sona

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment is forg­ing ahead with its plan to study a com­plete ban on hand­guns — but don’t ex­pect Saskatchewan Pre­mier Scott Moe to line up be­hind Ot­tawa’s lat­est gun con­trol ini­tia­tive.

“We do not en­dorse the ban­ning of firearms here in the prov­ince,” Moe told re­porters Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon, af­ter emerg­ing from a 45-minute meet­ing with Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau dur­ing which gun con­trol did not come up.

Asked if he thought a blan­ket ban on pis­tols and re­volvers would help re­duce Saskatchewan’s crime rate — which is among the high­est in the na­tion — the pre­mier re­sponded with a sim­ple “No.”

“In this prov­ince of Saskatchewan, the chal­lenges that I’ve seen when there’s been firearms, they’re ac­tu­ally not al­ways hand­guns. They’re quite of­ten long ri­fles that have been uti­lized (in crime),” Moe said.

In late July, af­ter a spate of shoot­ings, Toronto city coun­cil voted over­whelm­ingly in favour of ask­ing Ot­tawa for a nationwide ban on hand­guns and “as­sault” ri­fles, ex­cept for po­lice and mil­i­tary uses.

Pub­lic Safety Min­is­ter Ralph Goodale sig­nalled he was open to con­sid­er­ing the pro­posal, and Or­ga­nized Crime Re­duc­tion Min­is­ter Bill Blair was sub­se­quently or­dered to “lead an ex­am­i­na­tion” on the sub­ject.

Speak­ing to re­porters in Saska­toon ear­lier this week, Blair said he has been in­structed to “con­duct a very thor­ough re­view of all of the mea­sures that could be taken with respect to mak­ing our com­mu­ni­ties safer.”

While Toronto po­lice have said in­stances of Cana­dian firearm own­ers sell­ing legally-ob­tained guns to crim­i­nals are on the rise, Toronto po­lice data ob­tained by gun rights ac­tivists and first re­ported by Global News sug­gests oth­er­wise.

Ac­cord­ing to the data, the per­cent­age of “crime guns” seized by Toronto po­lice that can be clas­si­fied as “do­mes­ti­cally sourced” has hov­ered around 24 per cent over the last five years, and not once risen above 26 per cent.

The per­cent­age of seized “crime guns” that could be traced back to a li­censed gun owner is even smaller: an av­er­age of nine per cent over the same pe­riod, with a peak of 12 per cent in 2014, the data shows.

De­tails of what a ban on hand­guns and other re­stricted weapons — of which there are more than 1.2 mil­lion in Canada — are un­clear, and Blair was not able to pro­vide any specifics about what such a ban might look like.

“I’m pre­pared to look at any mea­sure, but we know that we have to look at the ex­pe­ri­ence in other ju­ris­dic­tions, speak to stake­hold­ers across the coun­try,” he said. He de­clined to give a time­line, ex­cept to say there is a “sense of ur­gency.”

Un­der ex­ist­ing Cana­dian law, any­one wish­ing to pur­chase a hand­gun must take a train­ing course and ac­quire a Re­stricted Pos­ses­sion and Ac­qui­si­tion Li­cence, join a gun club and ad­here to strict stor­age and trans­porta­tion rules.

Con­ser­va­tive Party of Canada leader An­drew Scheer is sim­i­larly dis­il­lu­sioned with the Lib­er­als’ gun con­trol ef­forts, in­clud­ing the pro­posed hand­gun ban and Bill C-71, which he and oth­ers have de­rided as a “back­door” gun registry.

“I do not be­lieve ask­ing lawabid­ing Cana­di­ans to fol­low more laws will some­how re­duce crime in Canada,” Scheer said of the pro­posed ban, which he sug­gested would be for “op­tics only” given that it’s al­ready il­le­gal to use a firearm in a crime.

Pub­lic Safety Min­is­ter Ralph Goodale has re­peat­edly de­nied that the bill is a registry, telling the Saska­toon StarPhoenix in March that any­one mak­ing that ar­gu­ment is ei­ther “hon­estly mis­in­formed or de­lib­er­ately not telling the truth.”

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment, mean­while, char­ac­ter­izes C-71 as a piece of “ef­fec­tive, com­mon-sense firearms leg­is­la­tion that will help keep com­mu­ni­ties safer with tougher back­ground checks, fewer il­le­gal hand­guns in cir­cu­la­tion, and stronger po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tions of gun crime.”

Scheer de­clined to say specif­i­cally whether he would re­peal Bill C-71 should his party form gov­ern­ment fol­low­ing the 2019 elec­tion, but said it makes more sense to go af­ter gangs and other crim­i­nals rather than li­censed gun own­ers.

An­drew Scheer

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