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Some Convenient Lies About Assault Weapons
Several years ago Halifax police joined most other police forces across Canada acquiring semi-automatic carbines. These are the exact same firearms Canadians can buy after completing the restricted license system mandatory course and in-depth police background checks, Civilians can only use these restricted versions on accredited shooting ranges. Canada’s national law enforcement magazine indicates these types of firearms are not 'assault weapons'.
Gun control and claims about gun misuse in Canada
As previously mentioned, with claims of an increase in criminal use of guns, gun control is set to become an issue in Canada after the 2019 election, and rhetoric around gun ownership and use of firearms is ramping up. As the Liberal Party of Canada website claims, “We will take action to get handguns and assault weapons off our streets.”
Several statements about firearms use and misuse have been made by the governing Liberal Party of Canada, and by gun-control lobby groups, even as the Liberal government mulls a complete ban on handguns and possibly also on so-called “assault weapons,” which are modern semi-automatic sporting rifles.
With an election behind him, Prime Minister Trudeau is studying a possible ban on handguns and certain types of long guns. Many lawful gun owners say the liberals seem to ignore facts on the issue and they’re being targeted unfairly.
“When a man uses a van to run down and kill people, the public and media blame the man not the van, but a punk or madman uses a gun to kill someone, they blame the gun, not the man.”
- Quote by an anonymous Range Safety Officer, Quebec, January 2019
Long guns involve semi-automatic technology that has been around for more than 100 years, and in common use for about 80 years. Modern sporting rifles have adopted this widely used technology but have combined it with modern ergonomics and materials. Long guns also involve plastic components instead of wood. This plastic or synthetic material is becoming the standard for most rifles and even handguns in order to keep costs down. Modern sport rifles commonly use these materials, often black in color which has led to them also being nicknamed as “black guns”, although they have been produced in other colors, tan, green, blue, and even pink.
Firearms hobby groups like the CCFR say more girls and women are getting licenses to enjoy shooting sports.
Heidi Rathjen, the co-founder of the Coalition for Gun Control lobby group, commented,
"These are guns designed to kill humans quickly and efficiently. They are designed for military contexts."
Firearms hobby and sporting advocacy groups often feel they are not contacted by the media on the gun-control issue to the same extent as gun control lobbyists. Their responses to public statements made by groups seeking to ban guns present a very different picture to the opinions and claims of the gun control advocates.
Heidi Rathgen, who heads the gun-control lobby group Polysesouviens, holds a photo of Kel-Tec RDB. “It’s not a hunting weapon. It’s not a sport pistol. It’s a weapon of war, and it is non-restricted.” (The exclusive Canadian importer of Kel-Tec told RCI that the photo, in fact, shows a “restricted” version they have never imported to Canada. Sporting goods stores have responded to RCI that the Canadian non-restricted version is indeed popular among hunters as they are light and their overall length makes them easily handled when walking through the bush.)
Alex Norris, Montreal city councilor, stated on Global TV News on Aug. 20, 2018, “We believe there is no good reason that a law-abiding citizen of Canada needs to own a handgun or assault rifle. These are weapons that are designed to kill people.”
The federal Liberal government, some municipal politicians and anti-firearms lobby groups have made statements similar to that of Montreal councilor Norris above.
It is interesting to note that almost all police forces in Canada have the exact same firearms that properly licensed and vetted Canadians can buy. While politicians and anti-firearms lobby groups call these firearms 'assault weapons,' the police themselves do not.
The police instead label them as 'patrol carbines'. To quote from Canada’s national law enforcement magazine Blue Line, “Police carbines are not military-style ‘assault rifles’ because they have no full-automatic capability.” (Blue Line, Dec. 15, 2017)
According to sports stores asked, the 'bullpup' style is a popular type of hunting rifle as it’s easy to use in the bush.
Radio Canada’s Report on Gun Safety
In light of the debate about new and popular styles of sporting rifles that are entering the marketplace, we asked several expert groups the following questions:
Question One: What is an “assault” rifle?
Response from the Canadian Shooting Sports Association (CSSA):
“The generally accepted definition of an 'assault rifle' is defined by three characteristics; medium power ammunition, large-capacity magazines, and selective fire capability. The last term means the ability to switch to full automatic from semi-automatic (see also “Blue Line” quote earlier). Unlike the police versions, however, civilian versions cannot have high capacity magazines and are limited to five cartridges. Of the three tests (for classification as an assault rifle), modern sporting rifles do not meet two of them. All we have is an intermediate cartridge, like a groundhog rifle.”
Response from the Canadian Coalition for Firearms Rights (CCFR):
“‘Assault weapon’ is used intentionally to instill fear into the public. This kind of messaging is easily absorbed by people who simply don’t know better. This really is through no fault of their own; I wouldn’t expect the average Canadian to be an expert on firearms regulation and terminology. But, this also proves the argument we always put out there; asking people with no topic knowledge or expertise to impact actual regulations doesn’t fly in any other file under the purview of the government except guns.”
Response from the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH):
“There is no definition of 'assault weapon' in Canada. Unfortunately, people tend to jump to conclusions about firearms based on their appearance. Many modern sporting firearms, including some used for hunting, don’t always have a traditional look. Features such as a synthetic stock, curved magazine and semi-automatic action are often confused with what is perceived to be an ’assault weapon’. In reality, the form and function could be the same as your grandfather’s wooden stock hunting rifle. You can’t classify a firearm by its appearance.”
Hunter with non-restricted modern sport rifle. From the CCFR’s facebook page: “‘Trucks have changed since Grandpa’s old Dodge’. Well, so have hunting rifles. This government promised us evidence-based policymaking. Demand they keep that promise and stop judging firearms on appearance.”
Question Two: Are any actual assault rifles allowed to be sold, bought or possessed by Canadians?
Response from the CSSA:
“No, they are prohibited by law and have been since the 1970s.”
Question Three: Certain politicians and anti-firearms lobbyists have often claimed that modern sport rifles “are only designed to kill humans” and are “no good for hunting.” Is this true?
Response from the CSSA:
“It is total nonsense. In fact, the guns were designed for their light weight, reliability, and versatility of operation."
“Modern sporting rifles, as typified by the AR-15, are the most common sporting firearm produced today. They are available in many models with different cartridges designed to make them ideal for many types of hunting and sporting use. Indeed, even the original cartridge was based upon a very common cartridge used extensively around the world for pest hunting. Of note, the standard AR-15 cartridge, the 5.56mm NATO (aka .223 Remington) is forbidden for use on deer in many areas of North America because the cartridge is too weak to ensure humane kills on medium-sized game."
“The standard police Patrol Carbine is identical to an (AR-15) M4 civilian rifle. Do we give them to [the] police so they can kill people? No, we give them to [the] police so they can defend people. Sportspersons don’t buy them to kill people either.”
The modern sporting rifle, whether black, brown, green or another color, is popular with hunters as it is lightweight and reliable.
Question Four: Police and gun control lobbyists have occasionally said that certain of these firearms can be quickly and easily converted to full auto capability. Is this true? What does it take if so?
Response from Dennis Young, former RCMP officer who has filed many Access to Information and Privacy requests (ATIP):
“I submitted an ATIP based on the RCMP’s specific claim that 'the CZ858 Tactical-2P firearm proofed 2007 can be converted to a fully automatic firearm in a relatively short period of time with relative ease.' Asking questions about the length of time needed to convert, equipment needed, parts required, skill level needed, and cost, he says the RCMP took 14 months to respond and the 28 pages supplied did not actually answer any of my questions.
“The point is the RCMP keep saying the reason they reclassify these firearms as ‘prohibited’ is because the RCMP say they are ‘easily converted to full auto’ and yet they are unable to produce ANY evidence proving their point. Also defying Justin Trudeau’s promise for ‘evidence-based gun control.”
Women are now joining in domestic and international firearms competitions like 3-gun (shown), skeet, pistol, cowboy shooting, etc. as these are sports where they can compete on entirely equal footing with men.
Response from the National Firearms Association (NFA):
“The ease-of-conversion canard is a favourite of RCMP. In a court case the NFA asked the police to prove this claim of ease of conversion to full auto, but the police refused claiming ‘public safety’”.
Response from the CCFR:
“It would require expensive machinery, serious machining knowledge, and it is actually already illegal. If someone did convert it to full auto, they are already breaking the law. We also did an ATIP on this, asking for data on how many cases the RCMP have of people machining their semi’s into full auto to figure out what ‘problem’ they are trying to fix. The data doesn’t exist, they are creating a solution for a non-existent problem, a manufactured hysteria. It’s dishonest.”
Question Five: Has a converted firearm ever been used in a violent crime?
Response from the CSSA:
“Not that I am aware of. It is a federal offence to convert a firearm already. The vast majority of firearms are very difficult to alter unless the individual has access to a machine shop.”
Response from retired RCMP officer Dennis Young:
Request to the RCMP Canadian Firearms Program for any statistics on [the] use of fully automatic firearms in crime, and use of converted firearms in crime received the following response: “Our office can only answer questions pertaining to Canada’s federal firearms laws. Therefore, we cannot address your question on statistics.”
RCI contacted police forces in the major urban cities of Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Winnipeg, and Vancouver to ask if they had any incidents involving a “converted” semi-automatic. Although not used in a crime, Winnipeg has a 2017 crime listing of an “automatic” rifle being found in a home under investigation, however it was later clarified to us as being a mislabelled entry. The Vancouver Police Service said they were aware that crimes have been committed with modified weapons but had no recorded data on any such incidents. Montreal responded that after checking files they had no reports of converted rifles used in a crime. Others have not yet responded, over a week after they were contacted. Interesting.
Modern sport rifles, lighter and with better ergonomics, are attracting women to hunting. (CCFR)
Terminology. According to these sources, the term ‘assault weapon’ is deliberately misleading and purposefully incorrect. These are modern sport rifles appreciated for their light weight, ergonomics, and reliability.
Additionally, the national law enforcement magazine, Blue Line, indeed emphasizes that the patrol carbines they use, the exact same that civilians can buy (having completed the proper licensing and vetting), are not 'assault weapons'. Canadians who have completed an additional mandatory course and police background checks can buy these AR-style carbines but they can only be used on authorized shooting ranges.
Also on this subject, the use of the term 'assault weapon' by certain authorities and anti-firearms groups is felt to be a deliberate effort to both confuse the public and promote fear.
The claim that “These rifles are no good for hunting; their only purpose is for killing people” is false.
The claim that modern sport rifles are not good for hunting is deliberately incorrect. Non-restricted versions are indeed used and appreciated by hunters, with larger caliber bullets for large game, and smaller calibers for small to medium game and pest control like coyotes.
The claim that these weapons are 'easily converted to automatic fire' is false, and Canadian law enforcement officials everywhere know it.
In spite of several efforts by private individuals and these groups above to find evidence of claims that modern sport rifles can be converted easily to fully automatic mode, there seems to be no evidence available to that claim, or that a converted firearm has ever been used in a crime.
By GRW Senior Staff Comments (0)
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.]