Thousands are signing petitions against a federal government order banning certain types of firearms.
The prohibition covering around 1,500 types of mostly semi-automatic rifles was announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on May 1 this year.
Three petitions have been initiated and ongoing in the House of Commons, and the response nationwide has been massive.
Before 10 a.m. Thursday (May 14), the petitions have drawn more than 230,000 signatures from across the country.
Vancouver resident Conrado Bagunu Jr. is a gun enthusiast and competitive handgun shooter.
Although Bagunu is not affected by the prohibition, he understands why many people are upset over the ban.
“Licensed gun owners in Canada are law-abiding citizens,” Bagunu told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview.
Bagunu’s point is explained in two of the three petitions, which note that licensed gun owners are vetted daily through a government database.
“Possession and Acquisition License (PAL) and Restricted PAL (RPAL) holders are subject to daily screening and are statistically proven to be less likely to commit crimes than non-PAL and non-RPAL holders,” states the petition initiated by Steve Hamilton of Prince George, B.C.
The petition is sponsored by Todd Doherty, Conservative MP for Cariboo—Prince George. Before 10 a.m. on May 14, the petition had 43,094, and will be open for signatures until September 2, 2020.
“Legal firearms owners in Canada are vetted on a daily basis through the CPIC system,” reads a petition initiated by Jesse Faszer of Calgary.
Faszer was referring to the Canadian Police Information Centre, a national information-sharing system between criminal justice and law enforcement authorities.
Sponsored by Michelle Rempel Garner, MP for Calgary Nose Hill, the petition had 191,256 signatories before 10 a.m. May 14. It is open for signatures until September 2 this year.
A statement about the ban released by Trudeau’s office declared that the prohibition will “remove dangerous firearms designed for military use from our communities, and help ensure that Canadian families and communities no longer suffer from gun violence”.
In the interview, Bagunu noted that more Canadians die from car collisions than guns.
In 2017, according to Statistics Canada, 266 people were killed in the country with firearms.
In the same year, based on data by Transport Canada, 1,841 people died in automobile crashes.
“Licensed gun owners are very disciplined in handling firearms,” said Bagunu, who has been into competitive and recreational shooting for many years.
Based on information accompanying the new regulations and published in the Canada Gazette, there are 2.2 million individual firearms licence holders in the country.
“It is unknown how many exactly will be affected by the prohibition; however, there are approximately 90 000 restricted firearms that would be affected; and an unknown number of non-restricted firearms (due to the fact that non-restricted firearms do not need to be registered in accordance with the Firearms Act),” according to the government.
These firearms “represent some of the most prevalent firearms within the Canadian market that are of modern design, have semi-automatic action with sustained rapid-fire capability and which are able to receive a quickly reloadable, large capacity magazine”.
The guns are now deemed unsuitable for sport shooting or hunting purposes.
Citing a Conference Board of Canada report in September 2019, the government stated that around 1.4 million Canadians are engaged in legal sport shooting.
“In addition, 1.3 million Canadians participate in legal hunting,” according to the government.
Also, there are 4,442 licenced firearms businesses, of which 2,004 sell ammunition only.
“A Conference Board of Canada study completed in September 2019 determined that sport shooting and hunting contribute $5.9 billion to Canada’s GDP, as well as $2.9 billion in labour income,” the government noted.
“The sport shooting and hunting industries also support approximately 48,000 jobs,” the government added.
A third petition initiated by Emile Saurette of Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta noted that the ban would “label current law abiding citizens as potential criminals or threats for owning specific property, which was perfectly legal the day before”.
The petition is sponsored by Garnett Genuis, Conservative MP for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan. Before 10 a.m. on May 14, the petition has generated 3,693 signatories. It is open for signatures until July 11, 2020.