Yahoo News reports:
OTTAWA (CP) – Prime Minister Paul Martin will venture into a violence-plagued area of Toronto on Thursday to announce a sweeping ban on handguns, The Canadian Press has learned.
Martin was scheduled to visit Toronto’s troubled Jane-Finch area to make a “safer communities announcement.” Liberal sources have confirmed the announcement includes an “outright” ban on handguns.
However, there will be exceptions for competitive target shooters, gun collectors and peace officers, a Liberal insider said on condition of anonymity. The source would not explain any more details of the policy proposal.
Handguns are already severely restricted in Canada and a handgun registry has been in force for more than 60 years.
Windsor MP Joe Comartin, the New Democratic Party’s justice critic, said the announcement sounds like “smoke and mirrors.”
“Basically, all handguns in Canada are illegal now,” said Comartin. “The only people who get permits are those who are using them for recreational purposes or those who need it for their own personal safety and there’s not a lot of those that are granted.”
He said the announcement sounds like “a political ploy during an election to garner some headlines and make it look like you’re actually doing something when, in fact, what you’re proposing is pretty meaningless.”
It remains to be seen how the ban will go over in rural areas, where the issue is more about rifles. Many Prairie rifle owners have never forgiven the Liberals for creating a registry for long guns.
Created 10 years ago, the registry was supposed to cost a mere $2 million. Instead, its cost has ballooned to more than $1 billion.
The Conservatives, who declined comment on the expected handgun ban Wednesday, have called the program a boondoggle and Auditor General Sheila Fraser has sharply criticized the waste and mismanagment that have pervaded the registry.
Gun owners warned at the time that the registry was the first step toward confiscation of their guns. Martin’s announcement may be seen as confirmation of their worst fears.
Wendy Cukier, who co-founded the Coalition for Gun Control after the Montreal massacre, said the government has yet to live up to previous promises to ban the AR-15 semi-assault rifle and the Ruger Mini-14, the same weapon used in the Polytechnique shootings.
But she said existing laws limiting the use of rifles and shotguns have been successful.
“Overall gun death and injury in Canada is way down,” Cukier said. “Where we’ve actually seen a slight increase is in murders with handguns and so clearly our existing laws are not addressing the handgun problem and something is needed.”
“It’s going to accomplish nothing,” said Wayne Fields of LaSalle, Ont., president of the Law-Abiding Registered Firearms Association. “There’s already all types of legislation and illegal use of handguns is out of control.”
Quick correction, it should be Law-Abiding Unregistered Firearms Association.
I’ve commented on Cukier before (and here, and here). I’m certain she is not ignorant on this issue, I think James has her pegged, and she is deliberately misleading when she says “gun death and injury in Canada is way down”. That’s not the issue. The issue is what is the total crime rate? As you restrict weapons the population at large is made less safe because criminals have a safer working environment. You have reduced the total cost to being a criminal. A criminal can be successful simply by being large, strong, or armed with a simpler and/or cheaper weapon. If you could magically eliminate all firearms from the planet you could set the firearm death rate to zero but the total murder rate could climb. There is Just One Question at issue here and Cukier dodges it.
And of course assurances by the anti-freedom bigots that a gun registry won’t be used for confiscation are worthless. That is the only thing it is good for.