By GRW Senior Staff Comments (1)
Or, "Uh-O Canada"
(Editor’s Note: This article, while being only tangentially related to the gun issue in the United States, was found to be relevant to the struggles of gun owners to preserve the Second Amendment in our own country. Additionally, it illustrates that the totalitarian erosion of rights by governments and the march against freedom continues in many places, not just the USA. Since Canada is our closest neighbor in terms of culture, economy, and values, we found this piece relevant and worthy for inclusion in the GRW blog.)
Apparently, censorship of the media is just as much a problem in Canada as it is here in the United States. Last week a four-part series from the Radio Canada International website discussing the veracity of many of the claims made by the Canadian government about gun safety was canceled by its parent organization, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).
The aborted series seemed poised to challenge a significant portion of the unverified claims made by the Canadian government over the last several years, as well as by anti-gun groups across the Great White North, from stats concerning illegal firearms purchases and the origins of illegal firearms to assault weapons.
Tracey Wilson, VP of Public Relations of the Canadian Coalition for Firearms Rights (CCFR) has gone on record on behalf of the CCFR stating that this was because the content was too biased in favor of gun ownership in the eyes of the CBC.
Tracey has also gone on to state that this is an odd claim since the article is about verifying the truth or falsehood of the claims made by those who may or may not understand firearms. Her quote on the subject:
“When the very things you are discussing are technical and factual in nature and not emotion-based ideological arguments, there is no ‘other side’. Facts are facts so it is impossible to show two sides when there is only truth.”
Interestingly, with the Canadian election coming up, and with the gun issue becoming a more prevalent topic, one could assume that the CBC would want to get their facts straight about firearms and get the correct information to the masses. However, once the 'gun friendly' bias of the article was determined, it was shut down quickly.
One CBC representative’s response, when queried about their quick cancellation of the series, was that the articles were considered incomplete, which seems bizarre given that the CBC canceled the series so that any lack of completion on the data contained in the articles can be attributed directly to them. Their response obviously did not sit well with many readers.
Soleiman Mellali of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation commented on Twitter on January 28th,
“We assessed both articles as incomplete. We plan to produce a long format for this important debate. The different points of view will be expressed and the facts verified. Citizens will then be able to form their own opinion.”
Tracey Wilson of the CCFR responded,
“Are you kidding me? I’ve got a team of researchers right now digging up all the anti-gun bias you have published on this debate. We finally have ONE opportunity to have facts and technical data included and you shut it down. The ombudsman will be busy.”
As Canada approaches their 2019 national election, proposals for more stringent gun control measures have been discussed along with more draconian gun laws, even as new gun laws are currently being debated in Canada to place further limits on gun usage and ownership.
Some responses to claims about the gun issue in Canada
As the 2019 Canadian election rapidly approaches, the gun control issue seems set to become a focal point in this election cycle. Just as the criminal usage of guns appears to be increasing in the Great White North, this issue is taking center stage. More and more, Canada’s October election appears to be primarily about gun control versus freedom. Where Americans have the Second Amendment to fall back on, Canadians have no such protection.
Currently, the Liberal Party is in control of Canada and that government, in coordination with several gun control lobby groups, is contemplating a total ban on handguns and also considering a possible ban and confiscation of so-called 'assault weapons'. Meanwhile, as one might imagine, little has been heard in the Canadian liberal press from the pro-gun lobby, firearms hobbyists, and pro-sport shooting groups.
What little attention these groups have received in the Canadian media shows a strong deviation from the rhetoric being put forth by their mainstream media, the Liberal Party talking heads, and the Canadian gun control lobby.
Although several investigative reports have been aired in various Canadian media outlets, including the CBC and other mainstream media, refuting the Liberal Party talking points and widely circulated gun statistics, these reports have been largely ignored by that same media. Indeed, the same anti-gun statistics and statements have been cited by the Canadian gun control lobby, various government officials, and most media, ignoring evidence to the contrary.
The popular Canadian sport of mounted shooting, as engaged in by cowboys like the one pictured, would probably be ended by a gun ban. Many other businesses and employees in Canada would also be negatively affected by such a ban and needless to say, tax revenues would also suffer.
“Guns used in crimes must be from the U.S.A.”
Just as in the states, the wrongheaded idea that taking guns out of the hands of law abiding citizens will somehow reduce gun crime abounds in the Great White North. And, as in the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave, gun control proponents invent statistics and make inane comments to support this claim.
The difference here seems to be a widespread belief among Canadians that since they have strict gun control laws, the guns used in crimes couldn’t possibly be from Canada. They must be smuggled in from somewhere else. Hmmm… where could that be?
That’s right, you guessed it; it's the United States.
At least as recently as a few years ago, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) were claiming that “77% of all handguns seized in Ontario have been traced to the United States”.
Ironically, in more recent years Canadian police seemed to have altered this talking point and are now making the claim that over half of guns used in crimes are now being sourced in Canada, either the ill-gotten result of domestic break-ins or via 'straw purchases'.
(A straw purchase, in case the reader was unaware, is when a firearm is purchased legally by a licensed person, then either sold illegally on the black market or to a third party for whom the purchase was actually made for).
Sgt. Eric Stewart, head of the Guns and Gangs unit for the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT) states, “It’s the main source of how firearms are being purchased and how they come into people’s hands on the streets nowadays.”
This is a claim that has been historically, and still is today, commonly put forth by the Canuck media and gun control lobby. There is no verifiable source for these comments, however. As already stated, only recently have the Canadian law enforcement officials hopped onto this bandwagon; until just a few years ago, their mantra was that most of these guns were coming from the U.S.
What is the Canadian definition of a Crime Gun?
Nicolas Johnson is the editor of TheGunBlog.ca, a Canadian pro-gun blog. He notes that a 'crime gun' in Canada is defined as any firearm, airgun, starter pistol, antique, toy gun, replica, or gun-shaped slice of toast that law enforcement officials believe was used in a crime, ranging anywhere from unlawful possession and/or removal of a serial number to the worst violent crimes. In other words, if you rob someone with an extended index finger inside a jacket pocket, it gets declared a crime gun.
Nicolas goes on to state that about 31% of the guns annually seized by Toronto police are classified as crime guns. He gave no figures for the number of straw purchases.
Clearly, there is some very conflicting data being given by the Toronto police in direct opposition to what most Canadian authorities are telling us. The Toronto Police Department show the numbers of crime guns that were traced to Canada fell from 2016 levels, which in turn were lower than 2015’s numbers. In fact, the number of crime guns traced to Canada in 2017 was the lowest since record keeping of such activity began in 2014. A mere 20 percent of crime guns, be they actual firearms or just airguns, toy guns, replicas, or rubber bands wound around a thumb and index finger, were definitively traced to Canada in 2017 according to police statistics. This public record flies in the face of claims being made by Canada’s reigning Liberal party, who still assert that most criminal-owned firearms come from domestic sources.
Tyrannical restrictions on guns or outright handgun bans would most likely negatively impact the prowess of entrants into Canada’s Olympic shooting competitions.
Dennis R Young, a retired veteran of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, in coordination with retired professor Gary Mauser, has done extensive research on gun issues, including making many requests for access to information (ATIP) of the Canadian government and other police officials. He tells us that over 33% of the so-called 'crime guns' confiscated by the Toronto P.D. were not real firearms and that the majority of these 'weapons' were never even used in a crime. This startling revelation comes from data he has obtained from police records, and it is a cause for real concern about the reliability of Canadian government statistics.
Mr. Young’s data reveals that 469 (65%) of the 726 'crime guns' confiscated by the Toronto Police Department were deemed to be from one of three classifications outlined in the Firearms Act passed in Canada in 1995. These three classifications are Non-Restricted, Restricted, and Prohibited. What this means is that fully 257 (35%) of these seized weapons or 'crime guns' were items that did not fall under the heading of illegal as defined by the Firearms Act.
[It’s the opinion of this writer that most police use the best judgment possible when reporting on crimes with whatever incomplete or imperfect information is available. But when non-firearms are counted as firearms in such a large number of cases, this makes the data very unreliable; the end result being that in the end, no one really believes it.]
Other information available online paints an even more differing picture from the statistics recited by the Canadian government. StatsCan reports that a mere 5 percent of guns used in murders were registered weapons, and were used by someone other than the owner in the crime. This 5% includes BOTH straw purchases as well as outright thefts.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale seems to be the leader of the gun control movement in the Great White North. His Bill C-71 threatens several new restrictions on firearms owners. He tweeted,
“With so many crime guns coming from legitimate domestic sources, we need effective firearm measures that prioritize public safety while ensuring fair treatment for law-abiding firearm owners.”
Like in the US, the Canadian gun control crowd doesn't have the facts.
It was later revealed via ATIP request from Officer Young that Mr. Goodale actually had no information on stolen firearms whatsoever. His phrase, “legitimate domestic sources” appears to be code for, “stolen from legal owners or bought via straw purchase.”
The Canadian Border Services Agency displays pistols and ammunition confiscated coming over the border into Canada.
Tracey Wilson of the CCFR further confirms these findings, telling us,
“I attended the Summit on Gun & Gang Violence last March on invitation from the Minister. The resounding issues and complaints brought forth by law enforcement at every level [were that] there was a clear lack of credible data to verify any of this debate about [whether the guns were] domestically sourced. As far as those stolen from legal firearms owners homes — since when is the answer to a victim of crime (theft) to ban them from owning it in the first place? Is this not victim blaming? Have they completely given up on prevention, crime solving and investigative policing?”
Blair Hagen, of Canada’s National Firearms Association, a Canadian gun rights advocacy group similar to the NRA, tells us,
“The straw purchase issue is high profile because the media chooses to use it as an example of lax gun control laws without any statistical evidence and with unsubstantiated remarks from some law enforcement officer.”
The related ATIP request from Mr. Young to the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) revealed that zero documents related to these so-called 'straw purchases' could be found in their files.
Not a single one.
Nicholas Johnson, of TheGunBlog.ca, has mentioned that also of note is that the Toronto P.D., Canada’s largest municipal police force, has given the names of the same 4 straw purchasers for over two years when asked about the subject. One is left to assume that it can’t be a very big issue or we’d hear more names being bandied about. Is it fair to say that there is a tiny minority of licensed gun owners selling guns illegally? Yes, of course.
Does this represent some sort of systemic problem? Absolutely not.
He goes on to state,
“Canada’s firearm-licensing system is highly controversial and of questionable use for public safety, but it has yielded at least one accidental benefit. We have decades of statistics showing that millions of lawful, legitimate gun owners are the closest thing Canada has to a crimeless demographic.”
Blair Hagen of the NFA tells us, concerning this straw purchase issue,
“It is important to remember that the firearms program and provincial Chief Firearms Officer approve and track all transfers of restricted and prohibited firearms. They can and do investigate every transfer, they can even investigate the license holder making the purchase beyond routine investigations that are in effect now.
I personally have had many cases where license holders making legitimate purchases of multiple restricted firearms have been targeted for secondary investigation, interrogation by firearms officer and even inspection because of the purchase. The fact that it happens at all is being used to justify calls for gun bans [Note: as though the secondary investigation itself were somehow the justification]. It is the extreme minority of illicit purchase and transfers.
There are two issues not being addressed:
The demand to confiscate the property of Canadians because of the risk of theft or illicit transfer. Since when do you punish people who have broken no laws and confiscate their property, and since when are victims of crimes made responsible for those crimes?”
Tracey Wilson, of the CCFR, further comments on straw purchases,
“There have been very few cases of straw purchases, and as Mr. Johnson stated, they seem to re-use the same ones over and over to prove a point. Fact is, this is already illegal and I think we’ve got the CFP failing to follow up on things, likely due to the fact they are already overburdened with bureaucracy. Wait until Bill C-71 [the aforementioned proposed liberal gun control legislation] kicks in and watch them fall apart.”
[Part Two of this series will focus on the actual report from the RCI, which Gun Rights Watch has managed to get our hands on.]