By: Peter Suciu
Our neighbor to the north is often held up as a utopia for socialized medicine and "reasonable gun control" – but in the latter case, Canadians aren't exactly saying "eh" to new gun control measures that were recently instituted. In fact, many Canadians are living up to the national motto, "Come and take it."
Legislation that was introduced in 2020 called for all gun-owning Canadians to hand in their so-called assault rifles, but the problem is that gun owners haven't complied.
Understanding the Ban
According to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP, aka the Mounties):
"As a result of the May 1, 2020 Order in Council (OIC) amending the Regulations Prescribing Certain Firearms and other Weapons, Components, and Parts of Weapons, Accessories, Cartridge Magazines, Ammunition and Projectiles as Prohibited or Restricted ('Regulation') under the Criminal Code, a letter was recently sent out to individuals/businesses to inform them that their previously registered restricted firearms are now prohibited and their registration certificates became nullified. This nullification is the result of the legislative change to the Criminal Code Regulations and not the result of any decision by the Registrar to revoke the registration certificates under the Firearms Act. Accordingly, the letter is not a Firearm Registration Certificate Revocation Notice. The Amnesty Order protects owners who held a valid registration certificate for the newly prohibited firearms on April 30th, 2020."
What this means, is that unlike the United States of America's assault weapon ban (AWB) of 1994 – which allowed those owning firearms placed on the banned list to retain them – Canadian citizens have to turn over items that they legally bought and even registered.
The only other option for residents of Canada has been to 1) wait for further instructions to participate in the buy-back program; 2) have the firearm deactivated by an approved firearms business and advise the Registrar of Firearms once completed; or 3) legally export the firearm.
Impacted firearms included: M16, AR-10, AR-15 rifles and M4 carbine; Ruger Mini-14 rifle; M14 rifle; Vz58 rifle
Robinson Armament XCR rifle; CZ Scorpion EVO 3 carbine and pistol; Beretta CX4 Storm carbine; SIG Sauer SIG MCX and SIG Sauer SIG MPX carbine and pistol; and Swiss Arms Classic Green and Four Seasons series. Additionally, the upper receivers of M16, AR-10, AR-15 and M4 pattern firearms were also listed as prohibited devices.
Amnesty Now in Effect
If all of the above information didn't seem frustrating enough – even depressing, as it could portent what could happen here if the Biden administration has its way – the Amnesty instructions won't seem much better and could actually make this situation even worse.
"An Amnesty Order is in effect until April 30, 2022 to protect individuals who were in legal possession of one or more of these newly prohibited firearms or devices on the day the amendments to the Classification Regulations came into force (May 1, 2020), from criminal liability for unlawful possession. It also provides owners with the time to come into compliance with the law.
"Government officials are currently in the process of refining requirements and developing program design and implementation options for a buyback program. Further information on the design of the buyback program will be communicated to Canadians in due course. Until the buyback program is implemented, anyone who possesses a newly prohibited firearm must ensure it is securely stored in accordance with the storage requirements for that classification of firearm before it was prohibited. These firearms cannot be legally used, sold or imported, and can only be transported or transferred within Canada under certain conditions as provided under the amnesty, such as deactivating the firearm or returning the firearm to the residence of the lawful owner.
"If you relinquish a newly prohibited firearm or device before the implementation of the buy-back program, you won't be eligible for compensation once the program is announced.”
This basically means that if you don't wait, which could be a problem for some, those owners will get nothing. The RCMP is actually encouraging people to simply hand in their guns. And even during the amnesty period, the once legally purchased and owned items must be kept locked away and can't be used. There wasn't even a sunset period that allowed owners to take the firearms to the range one last time!
Clearly that is something that only punishes the law-abiding.
Business Not as Usual
For licensed gun dealers, the situation could be just as bad and potentially even worse.
"This announcement may impact your business as you may have these newly prohibited firearms/devices in your inventory. While awaiting further details on the buy-back program, every effort should be made to return the inventory back to the manufacturer."
Guns on the banned list can't be sold, and "every effort should be made to return the inventory." The problem here is that Canadian-based businesses could be bankrupted or worse if they had to buy every firearm back. For now, gun shops in Canada must simply wait and hope that there will be fair compensation.
While Canada had looked to the Australian model, where certain categories of firearms were banned and subsequently turned in via buyback programs, it would seem that Canadians and Australians may share a common tongue, but they're not the same when it comes to bowing so easily to government pressure.
According to a report from The Reload, the RCMP has said that to date only 160 of the recently outlawed firearms have been turned in for destruction, as of December 28 of last year.
"The Canadian Firearms Program (CFP) can confirm that, as of December 9, 2021, 18 firearms (formerly classified as restricted) affected by the May 1, 2020 Order in Council (OIC) have been deactivated," Sgt. Caroline Duval, an RCMP spokesperson, told iPolitics on Friday. "In addition, there have been 142 OIC-affected firearms recorded as surrendered to a public agency for destruction since May 1, 2020."
The Canadian government has estimated that there are approximately 72,000 gun owners and 105,000 firearms affected by the policy. While some Canadian lawmakers suggest owners are simply waiting – and there are still nearly four months to go – it would appear highly unlikely that the 105,000 or so firearms will actually be turned in.
This should serve as a warning to the Biden Administration and other lawmakers that who such a buyback program could ever work in America where there are tens of millions, not just 100,000, of these guns out there.
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.