Anxiety is growing among some Burns Lake residents amid fears the federal government will ban guns.
The Liberals have made no official announcement on a ban and so far the fears are based on a claim initially made by independent MP Tony Clement on May 9.
In the House of Commons, Border Security Minister Bill Blair responded to Clement’s concern, but did not directly deny the claim.
In an email to Lakes District News, Marie-Emmanuelle Cadieux, Senior Communications Advisor in the Office of the Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction, said no decision has been made on any gun ban.
“Our Government remains concerned about all instances of tragic acts of firearm violence across our country. As part of our comprehensive review, we engaged with Canadians and experts through multiple formats, the results of which will help us determine next steps as to any possible changes to firearms legislation, all while respecting law-abiding gun owners.”
But some people in the community are still worried.
“I think it’s ridiculous. Banning guns in Canada…Taking guns away from good, honest citizens isn’t going to help take guns away from criminals. But the people committing crimes aren’t the ones who are going to have their guns taken away,” said Paul Hilliard, owner of Woods N’ Water, which sells firearms.
Hilliard supports gun registration, but said some of the provisions of Bill C-71 – which passed the Senate on May 28 – empower the RCMP to carry out gun bans.
“C-71 is giving the RCMP the ability to change the classification of a gun. They can go from non-restricted straight to prohibited. If tomorrow morning Trudeau wakes up and says ‘guns are banned’, he tells the RCMP to change the classification and it happens.”
“I don’t think it would be very good for my business. I [would] go from having whatever inventory I have and then the RCMP just throws it away. That would be devastating for most businesses.”
Bill C-71, which puts tighter restrictions on gun ownership has not been popular among many rural Canadians, including for people in the Burns Lake region.
Karla Matson, a secretary at the Tweedsmuir Park Rod and Gun Club, said of the alleged plan by the Liberals that, “as a hunter, an avid shooter and being apart of the rod and gun, this announcement makes me livid.”
“This would cause a huge impact on the hunting and shooting community in and around Burns Lake. Take away the guns, you can’t hunt anymore. That just opens up a whole new problem in regards to animal management, whether it be ungulate or predator. Either way, this is a serious matter that every gun owner should take seriously.”
Whatever comes of the gun ban rumours, a poll from late May showed most Canadians support a ban on handguns and assault weapons.
The Angus Reid poll, published on May 24, showed that 61 per cent of Canadians would support a total ban on civilian possession of handguns, and 75 per cent support a ban on assault weapons.
With gun-related violence, differences were noted between urban and rural respondents: Forty-eight per cent in urban areas were concerned about gang violence versus 28 per cent in rural areas.
The main concerns for rural respondents were shootings during crimes at 38 per cent, suicide at 29 per cent and accidental shootings at 24 per cent.