Liberals miss the bullseye on assault rifle ban

Thom argues party should not have sidestepped parliamentary procedure to keep election promise

Last week the federal Liberals made good on an election promise.

Well, sort of.

On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the federal government was banning 1,500 types of “assault-style” weapons by Order in Council.

Cue the outrage, but before you start penning that angry letter to the editor and calling me all the names in the gun “enthusiast” arsenal, please read on or I will know you didn’t get past the lead.

I am neither supporting nor opposing this ban. I am a gun owner, but have no interest in the kind of weapons covered by it so it doesn’t impact me, personally. I’m just not convinced it will actually have the desired effect.

Yes, it worked in Australia, but that country is an island whereas we live right next door to the most gun-crazy nation along the longest undefended border on the planet.

That’s not a good argument either for or against the ban, although both sides have tried to use it as such.

My personal feelings (or lack thereof on the particular issue) aside, the Liberals got this wrong on at least two counts.

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In a parliamentary democracy, an Order in Council basically takes the place of a Royal Decree and nobody likes a Royal Decree.

Hence, Orders in Council are usually reserved for political appointments or to implement simple decisions that require legal force.

They can be used for more important legislation that would normally require parliamentary procedures, but traditionally only under a state of emergency.

While we are living through a time of emergency, that emergency has nothing to do with firearms.

I believe it is overstepping to sidestep parliamentary procedure in this case, COVID-19 or no COVID-19.

All that being said, it’s probably a moot point.

A recent Angus Reid survey indicates one in four Canadians support a complete ban on civilian ownership of these types of weapons and most of those citizens are probably unconcerned by the nuances of how the ban is implemented.

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Support for the ban is highest in Quebec at 87 per cent. It would be political suicide for Bloc Quebecois MPs not to support the legislation if it were to go to the House. It is also NDP and Green policy. Even a lot of Conservatives in urban ridings would have to think twice about following Andrew Scheer’s political posturing.

Even in libertarian, the-west-wants-out Alberta, only 35 per cent of the population oppose the ban.

Gun “enthusiasts” can be as outraged as they want, but this was inevitable and will probably be formalized through proper parliamentary channels when the current pandemic is over.

Still, if we let them get away with this kind of thing, there is real danger of democratic institutions being eroded.

The second—and possibly more egregious—count is, in typical Liberal fashion, they found a way to keep their election promise while still breaking it. The promise was they would ban and buy back all the assault-style weapons in the country, but now they say they will give gun owners a choice of either turning them in for “fair” compensation or be grandfathered.

One might argue this is a reasonable compromise, but honestly, if they’re going to do it, why don’t they just do it instead of following this wishy-washy approach of trying to make everybody happy and ending up making nobody happy?

Especially when there is overwhelming support everywhere in the country except for a few pockets in the rural west where they don’t have a hope in hell of increasing their voter base anyway.

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