Analyzing the 2019 Liberal Gun Control Platform

The day after the embarassing Trudeau brown/blackface incident, the Liberal party released their 2019 gun control platform. Symbolically at the location of a recent mass shooting, Trudeau unveiled a high level overview of the platform, spiced in with some American-rhetoric like “prayers just won’t cut it anymore”. I thought I’d break down what the platform means if anyone was curious.

The Coles Notes

  • The Liberal party will be banning all semi automatic firearms by opting to put them all under the banner of “military-grade assault rifles”. This buy-back is expected to cost $1-3 billion dollars just for the buy-back, as it covers a high volume of firearms. Semi automatics are preferred in Canada for duck and goose hunting, for competition shooting, and as varmint rifles.
  • They’ll allow municipalities to introduce gun bans of their own. Most large cities like Toronto and Montreal are expected to ban handguns with this new power. Whether cities buy-back their handguns or just confiscate them with no compensation is not known yet.

If I’m just a hunter, am I OK?

Not really, because if the Liberal government follows the lead of recent bans in New Zealand and Washington, they’re going to ban your semi auto goose gun, your 10/22, your Remington 7400, your Remington 1100, etc. All they’re going to do is call them “military style assault rifles” and ram the legislation through. If Canada continues to follow the New Zealand/Australia process, they’ll slowly add more restrictions and ban pump action shotguns and many other hunting firearms.

Current law/regulation

Canada currently has one of the most stringent gun control regimes in the world. All firearm and ammunition purchases require a license, a license that comes with continuous background checks and requires reference checks and an in-depth background check when applying.

Non restricted rifles and shotguns can be used for hunting, but must be stored safely according to Canada’s safe storage regulations. This typically means that they’re locked up.

Restricted class firearms come with enhanced security measures, secure storage requirements are more stringent, and these firearms may only be transported to a range and back home, and only with an Authorization To Transport (ATT) from the government.

Semi automatic rifle/shotgun magazines must be permanently limited to 5 rounds, handgun magazines are limited to 10 rounds.

AR15’s, the rifle named specifically in the gun ban are restricted class and are not used in shootings in Canada. Even with 75,000 of them in country, AR15’s have never been used in a mass shooting in Canada. AR15’s with prohibited size magazines are a favorite rifle of police and SWAT teams, but they call them “patrol carbines” instead of “assault rifles”.

Weasel Words for PR

Currently, the language in the platform is that they’ll ban all “Military style assault rifles like the AR15”. Sometimes they’ve thrown around the idea of banning “assault weapons”. The language is somewhat important, because it defines what we’re banning.

What most people think an assault rifle is (even though this one does not meet the definition)
Remington 1100
What actually gets covered by these kinds of bans: a semi-auto duck gun


  • Assault Rifle: An assault rifle is a selective-fire (full auto or burst capable) rifle that uses an intermediate cartridge and a detachable magazine (Wikipedia)
  • Assault Weapon: No common definition in use. It’s been used in the US to describe semi automatic firearms along with an arbitrary number of cosmetic features. (example of features) Public Safety Canada had issue with defining the term as well.
  • Semi Automatic: Action loads a new round after every shot. Trigger must be pressed again for every shot.

Most recent bans in New Zealand and Washington have included language of “military style” to help most voters think of the AR15 rifle above. New Zealand refers to “Military Style Semi Automatic” as MSSA’s (a term they made up), while Washington State used the term “semi automatic assault rifle”. Importantly, while both recent bans used “assault rifle” or “military style rifle”, both initiatives broadly banned all semi automatics.

Browning A5 Review
This semi automatic Browning A5 is a popular duck/goose hunting shotgun

While New Zealand’s legislation left the door open for non-military rifles to be used, they banned the Browning BAR hunting rifle as well as the Remington 742 hunting rifle, calling them MSSA’s. So, basically, all semi autos were banned.

This Browning BAR hunting rifle is a “Military Style Semi Auto” in New Zealand

Washington State banned all semi autos as well, under the label of “semi automatic assault rifle”. They included both centerfire and lower powered rimfire rifles.

The Ruger 10/22 is the most popular 22LR rifle sold today
It’s considered an assault rifle in Washington.

Will this help crime?

Handguns bans in major cities: We see about 100-300 homicides each year committed with handguns in Canada, with a majority being committed by gangs. With the availability of replacement firearms by smuggling them in from the US (the most common way criminals acquire handguns right now), or by gangs manufacturing firearms here in Canada, gangs will not be inconvenienced by handgun bans in our major cities. Handgun homicide trends will depend strongly on gang turf wars and other variables and will be completely unaffected by citywide bans.

Semi Automatic Rifle Ban: Semi automatic rifles are used very infrequently in crime, so it’s unreasonable to think this ban will affect crime to any real impact. Most people think that Canada sees a lot of mass shootings with assault rifles, but these are largely in the US, where they have very different regulations and cultural influences that result in more mass shootings there.

So, much like the ill-fated long gun registry, we’re likely looking at a $1-3 billion dollar boondoggle that won’t impact crime.

Will this reduce mass shootings in Canada?

Semi automatic firearms are one of the most popular firearms styles in Canada, but they’re not commonly used in mass shootings. The Quebec City mosque shooting, Danforth shooting, 2014 Edmonton killings, Claresholm highway shootings, and more were committed with handguns. The only large (10+ dead) shooting massacre with a semi automatic rifle in Canadian history was Ecole Polytechnique in 1989.

If you look through our list of massacres in Canada, you’ll see that most are gang-related, and most involve a handgun rather than a semi automatic rifle. With semi automatics being used so infrequently in mass shootings, and mass shootings being fairly rare in Canada altogether, it’s unreasonable to assume that a ban on semi automatic rifles will have much of any impact on mass shootings in Canada. Maybe 10 deaths every 10 years?

Canada has never seen a mass shooting committed with an AR15. It’s unlikely because it’s a restricted class firearm that comes with a lot of extra scrutiny.

How will this affect lawful Canadians?

Lawful gun owners are the main target of this legislation. This is a calculated risk by the Liberal party to try to drum up support among members, distract people from the blackface hypocrisy, and they don’t think that there are any Liberal gun owners who will put up a fuss.

514,000 RPAL owners will face arbitrary bans of their handguns based on which city they live in.

The government will confiscate $1-3 billion dollars worth of semi automatic firearms from 2.2 million lawful, licensed gun owners. It’s reasonable to assume that many Canadians will opt to keep their firearms, and will be criminalized due to this legislation. New Zealand only saw 10,000 firearms turned in after their latest gun control measures, a small fraction of the actual number in civilian hands.

Waterfowl hunters will have to give up all their semi auto waterfowl guns and go back to pump actions, which they can keep for now.

Economic Loss

In recent months, Canadian gun owners have been getting their licenses and buying more firearms than ever before: 15,000 per month.

  • The value of restricted class firearms alone is ~$109 million per year in revenue. With accessories and ammo, Canadian sport shooters are likely spending $300-500 million dollars per year at Canadian sports shops.
  • Other non restricted semi auto firearms value is likely in the $400-500 million per year range

The CSAAA reports that Canadians spent $8.5 billion on hunting and sport shooting last year, and that sporting arms industry in Canada supports 48,000 jobs. That amount will be seriously curtailed if we arbitrarily remove large swaths of firearms.

Thousands of employees will face layoffs and have to get another job as these businesses fail and go bankrupt. Banks will lose money invested into these businesses. For a Prime Minister willing to be loose with morals when it comes to supporting corrupt businesses, it’s surprising that they don’t care as much about these jobs.

Shooting competitors will be hit hard.

  • Handgun shooting sports like IPSC, IDPA, Cowboy Action/fast draw, and ISSC (Olympics) will likely evaporate around major cities due to handgun bans.
  • Rifle shooting competitions like the National Service Conditions Championships will not see any civilian participation.
  • Fast growing multigun sports like 3 gun will likely be decimated.
  • Even marksmanship programs like Mapleseed will be affected if semi auto rifles are banned

These competitors will see the hobbies they enjoy and made friends at evaporate, and small centers near shooting ranges will see a loss in revenue due to fewer people attending shooting competitions. (Large competitions attract 100-500 competitors from across the country)

Target and competition shooting is, practically speaking, the only valid, legal reason the government gave us to own restricted class firearms, yet here we see that competition shooters will be devastated with these new restrictions.

How did the Liberal Party come up with this legislation?

The Liberal party started an exercise of consultations as well as a survey to explore the possibility of this ban last year.

Minister Blair was tasked with leading the examination of a
ban on handguns and assault weapons, while not impeding the lawful
use of firearms by Canadians.

From my sources who attended those consultations, the conversations were largely focused on reducing gang violence through community and policing initiatives. As for the government-run public survey, it was largely tilted against further restrictions.

Those who have been gun owners from the late 90’s knew what was going to happen. The Liberal party has run on semi auto and handgun bans as platform pieces twice in the last 15 years.

  • Paul Martin ran on banning handguns in 2006
  • Stéphane Dion ran on banning all semi-auto rifles in 2008

Regardless what the consultations came back with, the Liberal party was going to attempt to ram through this legislation. They’ve notably dropped “sport shooters” from the conversation and have focused on hunting as the only valid reason they think Canadians should have.

What can I do?

Other political parties like the Greens and NDP have also expressed support for handgun and semi auto bans. At this point, in this election, our only choice is the Conservative party. I’ve never voted Conservative before (I vote Libertarian), but I have to vote Conservative in this election.

  • Email/call/meet your local Liberal candidate, express how disappointed you are in this platform piece, that you won’t be voting for the Liberal party, and that you’ll have to volunteer for other parties and encourage family members to vote for other parties.
  • Actually talk to your family/friends and encourage them to vote for the Conservative party.
  • Actually volunteer, donate to, and support the conservative party.
  • Join a gun rights group like the CCFR. If more of us were part of organizations like this, we’d have political weight that parties would consider before diving headfirst into terrible legislation like this.

It sucks if you’re more morally liberal and would rather vote NDP or Green but we’ve really got our hands tied here. The Liberal party will devastate the firearms community if they’re elected in next year, and the Conservatives aren’t as Hitler-level evil as the progressives say they are. It’ll be fine to vote for them to teach the Liberal party a lesson, one we seem to have to teach them often.

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