The process to own a handgun in Canada is unbelievably onerous by American standards, but that isn’t stopping Canadian officials from calling for a total, nationwide handgun ban.
The Toronto Star, one of Canada’s largest newspapers, published an editorial this week urging the newly-elected Liberal government to pass the ban, arguing that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s pledge to allow cities to enact their own firearm laws doesn’t go far enough.
“Toronto’s board of health has added its voice to a chorus of municipal governments, health professionals and advocacy groups calling for a national ban on handguns,” the editors claim. “It’s time the Liberal government listened.”
Toronto’s Mayor John Tory backs the ban as well.
“I have asked, ‘Why does anybody in Toronto need a handgun?’ and I think that applies to other cities as well,” he said. “I think we have to wait now for the federal government to spell out what they meant and see. I would still prefer a national handgun ban because I think that’s a lot easier to administer and it doesn’t bring the provinces into it, I don’t think, because it’s within federal jurisdiction under criminal law.”
The newspaper called the idea that a ban would punish legal gun owners “ludicrous.”
“I think losing a child is punishment,” Wendy Cukier, president of the Coalition for Gun Control, said at a board of health meeting. “Finding a new hobby is not.”
As in the United States, advocates of stricter gun control measures believe guns are the primary driver of gun-related crime.
“The vector of the disease is the bullet. It is the gun,” said Dr. Najma Ahmed, a trauma surgeon at St. Michael’s Hospital and co-founder of the Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns.
Her group’s “public health” approach to gun-related violence includes solutions like banning the possession of all firearms nationwide.
The Toronto Board of Health’s “public health” approach similarly recommends a nationwide ban on handguns and semi-automatic “military assault weapons” along with an ammunition ban in the city of Toronto.
These recommendations come while the process to purchase, possess, and transport a handgun already requires sixteen hours of class time, extensive background checks, membership in a shooting club (in some provinces), application for a license to own a handgun, firearm registration, application for a license to transport a firearm, and a requirement to store the handgun locked and unloaded.
A handgun ban has gained popularity as the gun-related crime rate has risen in Toronto and other Canadian cities.