Gun Control

Canada's New Gun Ban Validates Fears of Arbitrary and Authoritarian Government

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s unilateral order confirms suspicions that government is always on the verge of abusing its power.


In Canada as well as in the U.S., advocates of gun restrictions are cheering Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's ban on so-called "assault weapons" in the wake of a mass murder in Nova Scotia. Some of the crackdown's fans even say the move isn't enough—they want more! The cheers come although the ban is arbitrary, wouldn't have prevented the rampage, and has been enacted by decree.

In fact, Trudeau's move fully validates suspicions that government is always on the verge of authoritarian excess and that cooperating with its creeping restrictions is foolish.

On April 19, 2020, Gabriel Wortman donned a Royal Canadian Mounted Police uniform and slipped behind the wheel of a decommissioned squad car complete with light bar and decals to begin a 14-hour killing spree that ended only with his own death. Canada has strict gun laws compared to most of the U.S., but Wortman, "who was not licensed to possess firearms, used guns illegally obtained in Canada and from U.S. sources," according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). That is, Wortman broke Canada's law against impersonating a police officer and used black-market weapons to commit his murders.

Days later, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau—who was already committed to tighter gun laws—used the mass murder as a jumping-off point for implementing part of his wish list of legal changes. Trudeau "announced the ban of over 1,500 models and variants of assault-style firearms. These models represent nine categories of firearms and two types identified by characteristic," in the words of his press release.

As is always the case, the named "assault-style firearms" are distinguished from other guns primarily by aesthetics rather than power or function. The ban is to be implemented over two years, during which time the affected firearms can only be transported to be deactivated, taken home, exported, or surrendered to police, "unless you are an Indigenous person exercising treaty rights to hunt or a sustenance hunter." Compensation for owners of the newly outlawed guns is promised for some time in the future, although nothing is yet in place.

Importantly, nothing in the ban would have prevented Wortman's rampage, given that he was already unlicensed, illegally impersonating a cop, and using black-market firearms. True, under the new rules, his illegal weapons would be a bit more illegal, providing a few extra charges to press against his moldering corpse, if you're into that sort of thing. In fact, Wortman's entire crime—committed entirely in defiance of the law, by a man who burned his own home and clearly had no plans to survive—seems a brutal demonstration of the limits of governments' abilities to "reform" society and to protect people from human predators.

Not that anybody got to raise such objections ahead of time, because there was no debate. Trudeau's ban was implemented via an "order in council"—a decree that entirely bypasses Parliament. Orders in council resemble the executive orders issued by U.S. presidents, and have been subject to similar mission-creep, long ago evolving from means for settling administrative matters within government agencies into end-runs around normal democratic procedures.

"The trend in consequence of two wars in one generation has been in the direction of by-passing Parliament by the passing of orders-in-council which interfere with individual rights," John Diefenbaker, who later became prime minister, objected in a 1949 speech.

Trudeau's decree lives up to his predecessor's worst fears, threatening people with legal consequences for continuing to act in a harmless way that was perfectly legal up until his pronouncement, all in the name of preventing a crime that would have remained untouched by the new rules.

"Today, I became a criminal; not through my own actions, but due to a decision made by Justin Trudeau," writes Phil Steernberg in response to the ban. "With the stroke of a pen, Trudeau made me and 2.1M other Canadians criminals."

Steernberg goes on to detail the intrusions and oversight that gun owners already suffer in Canada, only to be criminalized anyway with the promise that they won't actually be prosecuted for another two years.

Then again, the Canadian government can only prosecute the violators it can find, and it's not entirely clear how many firearms and their owners are affected. The prime minister's office estimates "there are currently over 100,000 restricted firearms among the models that are now prohibited. This number does not include other newly-prohibited models that were not subject to registration requirements." That is, the government has registration records for guns that were already classified as "restricted," but has no idea who might own other guns falling under the new ban.

That lack of certainty comes after Canada's government made an abortive run at registering all long guns. Amidst soaring costs and widespread defiance, the registry was abandoned in 2012. As in other countries (gun policy expert Gary Mauser estimates that registries usually achieve only about one-sixth compliance), Canadian gun owners were hesitant to formally acknowledge ownership of property that might eventually be targeted for tighter restrictions.

"There's only two reasons to register something – gov't plans to tax it or confiscate it," the Canadian Shooting Sports Association warned in 2013.

Sure enough, in 2020, the Canadian prime minister is imposing a ban by decree. And some gun prohibition fans want him to go even further. The Globe and Mail calls the ban a "weak half-measure" because it doesn't criminalize the possession of handguns. Former Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe spokesman Michael Bociurkiw wants to seal the vast border with the U.S. to curtail gun smuggling and "to make Canadians feel safer."

Dutifully law-abiding owners of registered weapons will have a relatively tough time evading prohibition. But those who ignored registration requirements, or whose guns weren't subject to registration to begin with, will have the option of quietly hiding their possessions while knowing that their distrust of the government was justified.

The obvious lesson to take away from the crackdown in Canada is that the government you live under can turn against you at any time. And bringing yourself to the attention of that government—say, by registering property that some officials want to further restrict or completely prohibit—is just asking for trouble. That lesson should be taken to heart not just in Canada, but any place that those who would inflict restrictions and prohibitions on the rest of us seek power. Which is to say, Canada's gun ban by decree provides a schooling in authoritarianism for everybody.

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  1. Have they banned toy star wars blasters though?

    1. I’m pretty certain there is a cadre of Canadian Karens going store to store and demanding the speak with the manager about those.

      1. ahem, it is a Privilege of Karens 😉

    2. Unless you live here, you need to STFU and clean up your own debacle at home.

      1. So we can expect you Canadians to STFU about what goes on in the US?

      2. Stupid and rude comment

      3. I live in Canada, and the gun ban is total shite. How it was passed is insane. I mean, I knew we didn’t have a real constitution and Justin was the worst type of retard (one who thinks he’s smart and really really really wants to be in charge), but the gall of using an order in council when leading a minority government is beyond appalling.

        If he thought he could win majority support in Parliament, he could have done it that way. But 1) he didn’t, and 2) he’d rather dictate from his summer cottage than actually show up to work.

        1. You sound like someone that would like to be very well informed and “reasoned” Karen. FYI: We do in fact have a “real constitution.” Unless you have a unique definition of “real.” I won’t comment on the rest of your mindless vitriol but the new rules were passed by an “order in council.” This is in fact how all regulations come into force. It is not new legislation. The legislation that allowed for this specific regulation was brought in during the last term through Bill 71 (I think it was). It was debated in the HoC, went through Committee and Senate and was passed into law.

      4. Does the K stand for Karen?

        1. Meant for kbolan.

        2. Or Komrade?

  2. “…Trudeau’s unilateral order confirms suspicions that government is always on the verge of abusing its power.”

    More broadly: the existence of government confirms suspicions that government is on the verge of abusing its power.
    To paraphrase a Zen Buddhist saying, “the children of fire come for fire.”

    1. “…Trudeau’s unilateral order confirms suspicions that government is always on the verge of abusing its power.”


    2. Read comments above. There was nothing unilateral and due process was followed.

      1. I was writing based on what was in the article:

        “Trudeau’s ban was implemented via an “order in council”—a decree that entirely bypasses Parliament. Orders in council resemble the executive orders issued by U.S. presidents, and have been subject to similar mission-creep, long ago evolving from means for settling administrative matters within government agencies into end-runs around normal democratic procedures.”

        … not what you wrote in a comment after I posted.

        In my opinion, minority governments should never be allowed to pass any legislation unless they can get clear majority support. Minority governments have no mandate from the people to do anything except act as caretakers until a majority government gets elected.

        If the legislation was passed with majority support then, I have no problem with it. However, what was written in the article suggests that wasn’t the case in this instance. Either way my sentiment remains unchanged.

        “…government is always … abusing its power.”

  3. If it wasn’t clear enough, this is why you don’t elect liberals and especially far left progs to government.

    1. I suspect the problem in Canada is similar to what is trending in the US; urban large population areas tend to lean left, and the denizens of such places elect douche bags like Trudeau and Northam. All the more reason to have and vigorously guard things like the BOR, the electoral college, the Senate, and other bulwarks against a tyranny of the majority.

      1. Yeah non of those institutions stopped Trump from doing the same with bump stocks after the Vegas shooting. And now we got a nice precedent (unchallenged though IIRC) for when a real gun grabber comes into office.

        1. The bumpstock ban challenges are wending their slow way through the courts. One may be waiting for Supreme Court review, but I am not sure.

        2. All the more reason to have and know them; if “your” guy gets a pass, the next “guy” is going to use them against you; isn’t that always the way?

        3. Trump stepped on his dick with golf cleats with the bump stock ban. More for the ridiculous precedent it set, than for the ban itself. It opens the door for BATFE to ban anything that could potentially increase a rifle’s rate of fire.

          He also is a complete asshole for throwing the Second Amendment Coalition into the trash, five seconds after getting elected. Clinton would have been infinitely worse, but how about electing someone who’s actually good on this issue? Instead of crap sandwich vs douche nugget?

          Also, when are we getting the Hearing Protection Act to his desk for a signature? It shouldn’t be this hard to get a gun muffler. They’ll cite you if you drive around without a muffler, and jail you if you try to shoot with one, without jumping through umpteenth NFA hoops. How does that make sense?

      2. Tell you what–all the Trudeau butt-lickers could move to either US coast, and the rest of the US states could merge with the Provinces (well, maybe not Quebec).

    2. Politicians are always looking for either coattails to ride or new territory to distinguish themselves from the herd. Ban liberals and conservatives will split. Politicians have no more morals or ethics than water flowing downstream. They are always in a race to the bottom.

      1. Reasoned Correction: Politicians (being human) have no more morals or ethics than the rest of us.

    3. Far left liberal progs? Read a pamphlet, mind meld. You have no idea what you’re talking about.

      1. Piss off, dead thread fornicating troll. Back to Mommies sewing room with you.

  4. Any idea just what weapons the shooter used? Seems the police [Canadian Government] is keeping quite a lid on this information, other than vague assurances that at least one of them “would classify as some kind of military styled assault weapon” under the new ban.

    PM Brown Face Douche Bag’s actions strike me as one of the most cynical things I’ve seen in politics in my lifetime. And I’ve been around a bit.

    1. No hard info, but I’ve heard rumors of 2 handguns and a shotgun, with at least one of the handguns being taken from a cop who was killed. The fact they aren’t screaming it’s an AR-15 from the rooftops pretty much is an admission that none of the weapons being blocked had anything to do with this shooting.

      1. Yup. Weird they haven’t mentioned them yet.

        Probably because it shows what a gigantic failure their gun control laws are. Sure gave him a lot of defenseless victims though.

  5. Bold prediction: the more Canada clamps down on guns, the higher their violent crime rate will climb.

    1. The important thing is all those ignorant hicks in flyover country got what was coming to them. If a few people have to get murdered and raped for that to happen, well you gotta break some eggs to make an omelette.


    2. So long as the aristocracy is isolated and protected by armed security.

    3. bolder prediction? Not only will this work out about as well as NJ’s 1991 assault rifle ban (4 turned in after 1 year, and only 14 seized by the cops, with another 2000 known out of an estimated 1-300,000), it will also open a weapon smuggling black market across the US-Canadian border. I’m sure there’s some enterprising Americans wanting to make a buck, and I don’t see pro-gun Sheriff Billy-bob in Backwoods, Montana, really giving a shit about what the gun-grabbing snowbacks up in Regina or Calgary think.

    4. No, that would be your homeland, drivel.

      1. @Nonstopdrivel
        May.6.2020 at 3:13 pm

        “Bold prediction: the more Canada clamps down on guns, the higher their violent crime rate will climb.”

        May.6.2020 at 5:13 pm

        “No, that would be your homeland, drivel.”

        Violent crime in the US has been declining for decades, while during the same period, the number of firearms in the US has been increasing.

  6. Just to be painfully clear, there is a huge difference between a country that has a Second Amendment and one that doesn’t, and there’s is a big difference between a President who would institute a measly bump-stock ban in reaction to a national tragedy and a presidential candidate who would use a national tragedy to justify coming after our Second Amendment rights.

    So many times, in the past, I’ve heard my fellow libertarians say that there isn’t a real difference between the Democrats and the Republicans on this or that issue–because neither the Democrat nor the Republican is libertarian–but just because bump-stock bans aren’t in any way libertarian, that doesn’t mean the alternative isn’t far worse.

    1. I think it’s because it’s clear to us that gun grabbers aren’t negotiating in good faith, and that ANY ground they gain they’re just going to use to gain more ground. Not to mention that we do have a legal system built around precedent, which means allowing them anything opens up the door to more.

      They want to ban semi-auto rifles based off looks, even though doing so won’t make the american public any safer. They’ll then use the same arguments against handguns or any remaining long guns once they feel enough time has passed.

      1. If their limited gun bans seem to cause a decrease in crime, they’ll claim that as evidence more draconian laws should be promulgated; if it doesn’t, they’ll claim that more more laws are needed to accomplish anything. It’s win-win for them, and the media never questions it. But then, Big Media has been thumping the tub for gun control for a century, so….

      2. “I think it’s because it’s clear to us that gun grabbers aren’t negotiating in good faith, and that ANY ground they gain they’re just going to use to gain more ground…”

        Especially when it comes to firearms registration.

        I want my Goddamn cake back.

      3. The problem with “common sense” gun control is that it never stops at common sense. It just gives politicians a big, shiny, chain that they can tighten whenever they need to look like they’re doing something.

    2. This is what you get in a country that is theoretically based on the English understanding of civil rights that does not put in firm constitutional protections like the Bill of Rights. The government will push to make that which is not expressly forbidden to it, permitted.

  7. Importantly, nothing in the ban would have prevented Wortman’s rampage

    “More importantly, we must DO SOMETHING!!”

    1. No. “More importantly, we must APPEAR to be doing something!”

  8. If there has ever been a smug, self-satisfied smirk, that needed a solid right hook to it…..

    1. He managed to look even more smug in blackface, so believe it or not that’s progress.

    2. Try that with me, dickwad.

          1. You’re supposed to say “Soory”, eh?

            1. We KNOW he’s sorry — he’s a Canadian Proglodyte, thus as sorry as it is possible to be.

      1. LOL. All you deserve.

        Go cry in the snow, or at Tim Hortons, or whatever. Your country is run by Fidel Castro’s bastard spawn, who never had an original thought in his life that he didn’t later apologize to someone for.

        There are great people in Canada. I wouldn’t mind it at all if Alberta and maybe Saskatchewan decide to stop cutting checks to the welfare queens in Quebec and the Maritimes, and either formed their own country, or became the 51st and 52nd States.

        1. So sick of those leeches in Quebec. They’ve collected 75% of all equalization money since the program began. Alberta has never been a recipient of equalization money, we’ve always been a payer.

        2. They can join us if I can go fishing up there in summer.

          1. And if I can ski Lake Louise in winter.

            I’d extend the invite to B.C., but Christ, that’d be like adding another Seattle’s worth of thug-huggers, Green New Deal acolytes, and general dirt-eating hippie bullshit.

      2. Funny comedian maple-flavoured soy-boy acting tough.

  9. I don’t see this playing out how Trudeau thinks it will. He might be PM, but his party only got 1/3 of the vote last election (due to how Canadian voting works). He has the lowest vote total of any PM in Canadian history. He’s not doing this through legal channels, instead being allowed to mandate it because of CORVID-19 emergency measures, which is going to rankle some people who aren’t gun owners. And there isn’t any clear case that this would have prevented the Nova Scotia shitshow (it wouldn’t have). Considering that a large amount of Canadians have the same issues that folks out in more rural states have (namely, the cops aren’t going to be able to show up in a timely matter if something happens, and there IS dangerous wildlife), and that the majority of canadians own rifles, NOT handguns, I don’t see Canadian gun owners going along with this. At the very least, there’s going to be the world’s greatest number of boating accidents.

    1. edit: legislature channels instead of legal, technically it’s legal if you squint hard enough. Doesn’t make it right though.

    2. I wish I was that optimistic, but: the next election’s pretty far away, people will forget; all the Conservative leadership candidates are terrible; Liberal support in Atlantic Canada and Ontario is still solid enough for them to win another minority; non-gun-owners don’t care about legislative principles and are rallying behind the flag anyway due to COVID-19.

      All we can really hope for is for enough left-wing liberal supporters to bleed off to the NDP or the BQ and split the vote in Ontario.

      1. er… “Ontario and Quebec”.

    3. I would also ask if they can own a rifle with a 5 round magazine what would be wrong it it held 10 or 20 rounds. If a person is going to use it to kill, a pencil or a baseball bat is a lethal weapon. If not, even a machine gun is harmless. If the person with the weapon is honest and law abiding that person is not going to use that weapon in the commission of a crime no matter how many round it has. Only the person who is intent on criminal activity will use the weapon for criminal activity.

      1. Well we are currently in a time when some people think wearing a mask will keep a non-infected person from spreading an illness they don’t have.

  10. Who is so SCARED they need a gun?

    1. I’ve heard that question asked in the form, “What are you scared of?” Answer: “Not a damn thing.”

    2. Who is so SCARED of their neighbors having guns?

    3. You should be proud of your picture being in the dictionary, right next to the word “hoplophobe”…

  11. An off-duty Mountie once asked this riddle to a half-Canadian, half-American audience: “Why do Canadians oil their lawns?” Answer: “To keep their guns from rusting.”

  12. We here in the USA and apparently are only a breath away from an authoritarian government in which we start losing our freedoms one by one.
    Now about the Canada’s New Gun Ban. If what I read earlier is true then the person that went on the shooting rampage should not have had the weapon legally in the first place. Even though he did not have a police record he had been ordered to undergo anger management because of confrontations in his younger years. One who has had violence confrontations in young adulthood should not have right to buy a weapon until he has been given clearance from the psychology doctors.

    1. “One who has had violence confrontations in young adulthood should not have right to buy a weapon until he has been given clearance from the psychology doctors.”

      No. We now need a permission slip from a shrink? Absolutely not. Criminals certainly ask for one before they buy guns, don’t they?

      If the person trying to buy a gun isn’t a convicted violent felon, then feel free to not get involved in their exercise of commerce and the Second Amendment.

  13. There are a lot of lakes and rivers in Canada, seeing how this summer looks to be gorgeous across that country, I imagine there will be a lot of boating activity… and boating accidents.

    1. Kennedy style? (Which Kennedy?)

    2. Those damn mooses (meese? moosii?), always overturning people’s boats and shit

  14. I predict that there will be enough guns falling into lakes that they can hold the Eddie Aikau Invitational with the ripples in the water.

  15. Yep. More laws will surely stop such crimes, because criminals always obey the law.

  16. Dutifully law-abiding owners of registered weapons will have a relatively tough time evading prohibition.

    That’s what boating accidents are for.

  17. The fact is that not one legally owned guns of the 1500 models that were banned has ever been used in a crime in Canada.

    If banning the guns by violating constitutional rights with an executive order was urgently necessary for public safety, why wait two years to act on it?

    The fact is that this is a slimy political virtue signalling scheme done under anti protest restrictions during a pandemic.

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