The RCMP union says the Liberal government’s firearm ban targeted at legal firearm owners, does not address the “more immediate and growing threat of criminal use of illegal firearms.”
The National Police Federation (NPF), a union that represents 20,000 RCMP members, issued a statement (pdf) on Monday to express their concern over the rising number of illegal guns and shootings in Canada. It says the firearm bans by the liberal government have in fact diverted “extremely important personnel, resources, and funding” away from addressing the root causes of gun violence—illegal guns trafficked across the Canada-U.S. border and criminals using the firearms to commit crimes eventually
“As police officers, we routinely see first-hand how illegal weapons are directly linked to increased gun violence and, sadly, death,” said NPF President Brian Sauvé.
On May 1, the federal government announced a sweeping ban on 1,500 models and variations of assault-style firearms, as well as some of their components, enforced through an order in council on grounds of violent crimes involving firearms. Legal gun owners were given two years to turn in their now-illegal firearms, according to this ban.
A petition was launched shortly after the ban, gaining over 230,000 signatories arguing that most of the violent crimes committed using firearms are obtained illegally or smuggled into Canada, and the government has ignored the fact there are “millions of responsible, law-abiding firearm owners” who are vetted by the Canadian Police Information Centre daily to verify they have not engaged in any criminal activity since acquiring their licences.
The arbitrary sweeping ban of the assault-style firearms is also based solely on how they look instead of their functionality, argued the petitioners.
According to Statistics Canada (pdf), of the 678 homicides in Canada in 2019, 261 (38 percent) were committed using firearms, and over 60 percent of those were committed using a handgun instead of assault-style rifles. Besides that, most of the homicides were linked to organized crime or gangs, which rose from about 16 percent in 2015 to 24 percent in 2019, almost one in four homicides in Canada.
In addition, the U.S.’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives reported as of March 10, that 2,242 illegal guns sold in Canada could be traced back to the manufacturers in the United States.
In June, the RCMP updated its investigation of the tragic mass shooting in Nova Scotia—one of the cases that prompted the ban—that killed 22 people including one of its constables Heidi Stephenson in April. The findings concluded all the firearms obtained by the gunman were illegally obtained. Of the four firearms used, three were obtained from the United States illegally. According to NPF, the gunman did not have a Possession and Acquisition firearms licence, which deems any possession of firearms by him illegal.
“The narrative is that we need to restrict gun ownership because that will curtail crime, when really the evidence is that illegal gun trafficking leads to criminals owning guns, which leads to crimes with firearms,” Sauvé told National Post. “So really, we need to look at the source of the problem.”
The NPF called for the federal government to provide more funding to strengthen Canada-U.S. border measures in order to curtail firearms smuggling and roll out legislation that can reduce crime and prevent gang violence.