‘Freeze’ handgun ownership and buy back assault weapons: Is Canada PM Trudeau right?

Patrick Doyle / AP

Fact Box

  • On May 31, 2022, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau introduced a bill that would put a “national freeze” on the buying and selling of handguns and offer a “mandatory” buyback program for military weapons. Bill Blair, minister of emergency preparedness said “gun ownership is a privilege not a right” which sets them apart from other countries. 
  • Trudeau’s new law was spurred on by the Uvalde, Texas shooting on May 24, 2022, at Robb Elementary School resulting in the death of 19 children and two adults. The suspect was an 18-year-old gunman who legally bought a gun after his birthday.
  • Gun Violence Archive reported a 25% increase in gun violence in the US from 2019 to 2020, totaling 19,223 deaths. From January to April 8, 2021, there were 11,428 deaths by gun, and 4,960 from homicide, murder, or unintentional gun death. 
  • Public Safety Canada reported the number of firearm homicides had increased by 16 accounts to 277 in 2020. “Since 2013, gang-related homicides in Canada’s largest cities have almost doubled.”

Andrew (Yes)

By freezing the sales of handguns and buying back assault weapons, Prime Minister Trudeau has crafted a logical plan to make access to guns more difficult, which will ultimately prevent gun crime in the nation. Many advocates for free and easy access to firearms claim that strategies like this fail because there are simply too many guns in circulation. This defeatist logic is ultimately tantamount to giving up. By the Canadian government freezing gun sales, the number of guns in circulation will lower over time, making it more difficult for those with bad intentions to access them. This isn't a quick fix; the problem of gun crime is so enormous we shouldn't expect a magic overnight fix. This is step one in limiting access to guns.

While Canada's new freeze comes on the heels of Texas' Uvalde shooting, it is rooted in common sense, which America would do well to imitate. Limiting access to weapons is important as it allows for authorities to pick up on the warning signs more readily and for red flag laws to work. In Uvalde, the shooter legally purchased his weapon one day after his eighteenth birthday. If that weapon had been more difficult to procure, those children and teachers might still be alive. Further, nearly all weapons used in mass shouting are purchased legally, and legal handguns account for many suicides.

There will always be criminal elements trafficking illegal guns, however, troubled teens typically don't have access to firearm smuggling rings. We need only look to nations like the United Kingdom where strict gun control has led to virtually no gun crime. Gun control opponents attempt to frame this issue as a mental health problem, not an issue with guns, but that’s a false dichotomy. Nations must address both community mental health issues and appallingly easy access to weapons at the same time.

Luke (No)

Trudeau’s proposed gun control measures would be highly ineffective in keeping guns out of the hands of criminals. Canada is not an island like Britain or Australia but is more similar to a nation like Mexico, sharing a long border with a major gun producer: the US. Despite strict gun control laws, Mexico is the recipient of an estimated half-million smuggled firearms across its border per year. 

Measures that therefore limit legal gun access only seek to punish and limit law-abiding citizens from using firearms to protect themselves in self-defense. If criminals are willing to break the law by illegally attaining, smuggling, and selling guns to people who then illegally use those guns to commit acts of violence (murder and assault are already against the law), then how will depriving upstanding citizens of firearms help solve gun violence? A citizen’s right to self-defense should not be handicapped, as millions of legally armed Americans successfully deter violent criminals and crimes each year. But those stories don’t make it in the headlines. 

Moreover, restrictions like these place people’s protection and safety into the hands of the police, who may be delayed in responding to an incident or unwilling to risk their lives to save the victims, as the inaction of the Uvalde police gravely reminds us. It is also important to note the hypocritical nature of such policies, as politicians regularly hire armed guards for protection. Guns are used to defend celebrities, sporting events, stores, banks, offices, and public buildings. Implementing measures that deprive the non-elite access to self-protection would effectively create a de facto class system where only the rich and powerful can have reliable protection. 

As such, Trudeau is wrong to seek the implementation of these gun control measures, as they would only serve to make Canada's citizenry less safe while creating an evermore detached elite society that stands behind guards armed with the very weapons removed from the hands of the general population.

  • chat-ic0
  • like-ic2
  • chart-ic16
  • share-icShare


0 / 1000