Proposed gun legislation in Canada, including a recently introduced amendment that expands the current gun ban, has hunters and recreational sport shooters rightfully angry.
In May 2020, the federal government banned over 1,500 models of “assault-style” firearms under Bill C-71. The Liberal party in Parliament portrayed this as taking “weapons of war” off the streets. “You don’t need an AR-15 to take down a deer,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau famously said.
Several standard deer hunting firearms like the Remington 742 were banned as well.
In February 2021, the Government of Canada introduced Bill C-21, which proposed measures to combat violence and self-harm involving firearms. A handgun freeze went into effect in October 2022.
Directly on the heels of the ban, an unexpected amendment to Bill C-21 was introduced in Parliament. The amendment would expanded the list of banned firearms to include roughly 514 additional guns plus variants.
Conservative and New Democratic party members of Parliament have voiced their opposition.
According to a news interview, MP Raquel Dancho said, "the arbitrary criteria that the Liberal government has snuck into their legislation at the eleventh hour without democratic debate does not make these firearms any less of a hunting tool.”
MP Charlie Angus said, "the amendment came out of nowhere. This was a handgun bill. We suddenly saw this other legislation that has a lot of people who are legitimate gun owners worried. I think they overreached."
Even the nationally-treasured Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price has come out against the amendment.
“I love my family, I love my country and I care about my neighbour,” he wrote in an Instagram post. “I am not a criminal or menace to society. What [Prime Minister Justin Trudeau] is trying to do is unjust.”
The amendment includes any rifle or shotgun that could potentially accept a magazine with more than five rounds and a large number of semi-automatic hunting firearms that do not have detachable magazines and are not considered "assault-style firearms," but the government wants to ban them anyway.
Mark Hall, the host of the popular B.C.-based Hunter Conservationist podcast, told HOWL the action of banning firearms that are popular with recreational sport shooters, and now treading into the realm of hunting rifles and shotguns, is a dangerous precedent.
“In Canada, all outdoor industries — including hunting, fishing, trapping, and sport shooting — are combined when it comes to the economic value generated,” he said. “Having them all put together is a huge plus for the hunting community.”
According to a 2019 study, hunting, fishing, trapping, and sport shooting contributed a combined $13.2 billion to Canada’s GDP in 2018. An estimated 1.4 million people participated in sport shooting, accounting for $1.8 billion of that total.
“As soon as you start to break [sport shooting] away and say the only legitimate use of a firearm in Canada is for hunting, it diminishes the economic value of hunting,” Hill said. “It paints us into a corner and breaks us off making it easier to start attacking hunting.”
A step that is already happening with the current amendment.
“All firearms owners should be with each other regardless of how they’re used.”
Again, the economic toll of these gun bans on Canadian citizens will be severe. In 2017, hunting and fishing outfitters alone accounted for almost $2.7 billion of Canada’s GDP.
Bear, deer, moose, waterfowl, and wolf hunting by international visitors is a major part of outfitters’ revenue. That number obviously tanked in 2020 because of the pandemic forcing border closure.
Given the fact that the hunting industry in Canada, specifically guides and outfitters, is finally starting to slowly recover from a devastating two-year shut-down because of COVID, placing even more restrictions on them under the guise of fighting gun-related crime is a tough sell.
With the world stage rallying around Canada’s gun ban as a positive move, the collateral damage is not being addressed.
Hunters, anglers, trappers, and sport shooting enthusiasts in Canada, the U.S., and abroad need to make their voices heard and show that banning guns in this manner is an exceedingly poor economic decision and ignores generations of Canadian hunting and shooting tradition.
“The reason I believe that we should be standing up for everybody who owns a firearm is that the boundaries between who owns a firearm and for what reason in [Canada] is not clearly segmented,” said Hall.
“Farmers may protect livestock with one firearm but hunt with another,” he added. “Hunters may go after big game but trap as well, or like to go to the range in the off-season. Sport shooters may be hunters as well.
“We’re not trying to defend our own silos,” he said. “This community is a mish-mash of people participating in all of these different silos. If we’re standing up for one, we’re standing up for all firearm owners in the country.”
Please contact the Members of Parliament in Canada and respectfully ask them to withdraw support for the amendment to Bill C-21.