Canadians are no longer allowed to buy, sell, or transfer legally-owned handguns after a “freeze” on the firearms took effect on Friday. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had previously announced the freeze back in May, which ironically (though unsurprisingly) led to a spike in sales in the months since. At a news conference in British Columbia on Friday morning, Trudeau announced that the new restrictions are now in effect.
“We have frozen the market for handguns in this country,” Trudeau said at a news conference in Surrey, British Columbia, attended by family members of gun violence victims and other advocates.
“As we see gun violence continue to rise… we have an obligation to take action,” Trudeau added. “Today our national handgun freeze is coming into force.”
Friday’s action stops people from buying, selling or transferring handguns within Canada, and prevents them from bringing newly acquired handguns into the country, according to the prime minister’s office.
Let’s stop there for a moment, because this freeze doesn’t actually stop people from buying, selling, transferring, or bringing guns into Canada. It makes it a crime to do so under any circumstances; something that will have little impact on the black market where most guns used in crime are obtained. Legal gun owners, or all those hoping to purchase a handgun, on the other hand, are now out of luck unless they’re willing to break the law themselves.
There are a couple of exemptions to the freeze, including for those competing in Olympic or Paralympic competitions. Gun control activists, however, are lobbying to limit the exemption only to existing competitors, leaving those who hope to one day compete in those events out of luck. Other competitive shooting organizations from the Single Action Shooting Society to the International Practical Shooting Confederation aren’t eligible for an exemption at all; something that gun groups in Canada are hoping to change in the final gun control legislation known as C-21.
Jim Smith of IPSC Canada recently posted a statement saying the organization’s letter-writing campaign “seems to be getting some traction and I have had a couple of meetings with members of the committee for public safety.”
“There does seem to be at least an openness to consider adding IPSC to the list of elite shooters who would be exempt from the proposed ban.”
Gun-control group PolySeSouvient says in a written brief to the MPs studying the bill, known as C-21, that the exemption should be limited to athletes that compete, train or coach in an Olympic or Paralympic discipline involving handguns.
“In addition, (the committee) should legislate with the possibility in mind that the International Practical Shooting Confederation could one day achieve recognition by the International Olympic Committee,” the brief says.
“Amending Bill C-21 to limit the exemption to current Olympic or Paralympics competitions would prevent a future scenario which would render the freeze on new handguns meaningless.”
Tony Bernardo, executive director of the Canadian Shooting Sports Association, told the committee Tuesday the bill doesn’t recognize that those who train to become elite shooters usually start as young as eight or nine.
“A championship shooter is like an NHL hockey player, they don’t just fall off the tree. They require decades of training to get to where they have to be — hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition to be able to get that good. It’s a very difficult sport.”
PolySeSouvient argues the bill’s current wording would allow anyone claiming to be interested in one day competing in a handgun-shooting Olympic discipline to be exempted and accepted in a beginner course.
American gun control activists would love to be in the position of their Canadian counterparts; lobbying to eradicate competitive shooting sports involving pistols within a generation, and demanding Trudeau just go one step further and ban the possession of handguns outright. Thankfully, we have the Constitution and tens of millions of handgun owners on our side, and Canada’s handgun freeze is just a pipe dream for the U.S. gun control lobby. For Canadian gun owners, however, the long, cold, winter of their discontent is just beginning, and Trudeau has much more in store for them and the guns in their possession.