Ban on assault-style guns has faults, but it’s a start

Thoughts and prayers-while a nice sentiment to offer families who have just lost a loved one to gun violence, do nothing to prevent the next tragedy.

That’s why it was refreshing to see Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Friday announcement that the federal government would be banning 1,500 assault-style firearms effectively immediately. In the wake of the deadliest shooting in Canadian history in Nova Scotia just two weeks prior, the ban is a step towards preventing another-though how big a step is certainly up for debate.

The ban is far from perfect. It certainly doesn’t magically ensure a similar tragedy will never happen again. But it’s a step in the right direction, if only because very few, if any, steps towards preventing an assault rifle fuelled mass shooting had previously been taken. An assault gun has one purpose-to rapidly fire a large amount of ammunition. It is true the vast majority of assault rifles made and sold to the public will be used for firing at inanimate objects in a firing range. But place them in the wrong hands, as the country saw on April 18 in Nova Scotia, the results can be devastating. That these guns can be legally owned, and in the case of the United States legally carried on a crowded street, is unsettling.

Speaking of the States, it’s been reported most of the guns used in last month’s deadly shooting originated from there. For that, many are quick to point out Canada’s ban will do little to stop a similar tragedy. That’s far from the only criticism levelled on Trudeau’s ban. Another is the way in which it happened-in the middle of a pandemic with no debate. Certainly not something we’re accustomed to seeing in Canada-but then again neither are mass shootings. The Liberals were elected-albeit as a minority government-on a platform that included gun control and the Nova Scotia shooting was no doubt a catalyst to push for the ban to be enacted.

As welcoming as it was to see a government act quickly to get something passed-at least for those who wanted to see it passed-the matter in which it happened as well as the lack of details in the motion will make it easy pickings for the opposition. The wording in the ban itself has many wondering what exactly is an ‘assault-style’ firearm. For those reasons, it’s easy to assume the ban will be challenged by the opposition when parliament returns to full swing. It’ll also no doubt be a topic that comes up when the next election cycle ramps up, with a challenger likely to lock up quite a few votes if he or she promises to revoke it.

While this ban has its faults, hopefully anyone willing to challenge it will have a better idea to prevent further gun violence. Because Canadians deserve more than thoughts and prayers.

Adam Prudhomme

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