Expanded Liberal gun ban could cost taxpayers ‘another billion dollars,’ says criminologist

The Liberal government’s cost for its mandatory gun buyback plan is bound to rise substantially in light of a proposal to expand the list of prohibited weapons to what could be millions more currently legal hunting and sport shooting rifles.
Public Safety Canada was unable to provide updated estimates for the significantly expanded expropriation, but criminologist Gary Mauser estimates the cost could add another $1 billion to the $756 million estimated cost the Parliamentary Budget Officer released last year.

“That is another billion dollars — because so many popular long guns will be caught by it,” said Mauser, a Simon Fraser University professor.

The amendment to Bill C-21, introduced by Liberal MP Paul Chiang on Nov. 22, alters the definition of “prohibited weapon” to include “a firearm that is a rifle or shotgun, that is capable of discharging centre-fire ammunition in a semi-automatic manner and that is designed to accept a detachable cartridge magazine with a capacity greater than five cartridges of the type for which the firearm was originally designed.”

The amendment came with scores of new firearms added to the government’s prohibited weapon list, including the SKS — a non-restricted, semi-automatic, Soviet-era rifle that’s wildly popular among Canadian hunters and sport shooters.

“These guns cost between $900 and $3,000 each new, of course many might lose value with use. A few of the NPFs (newly prohibited firearms) cost over $7,000 — these are not crime guns.”

According to a proposal published by Public Safety Canada, SIG Sauer SG550 and SG551 rifles would fetch the biggest buyback bounty at $6,209 each.

Two other SIG firearms, the MCS and MPX, will fetch $2,369 each to legal owners obligated to turn them in.

Other examples include M14 rifles ($2,612) and AR-platform rifles —  including the M4, M16, AR-10 and AR-15 — at $1,337 each.

Requests to Public Safety Canada on Monday seeking updated costs of the expanded gun ban went unreturned by Wednesday.

As no firearm registry exists in Canada, the exact number of legally owned firearms is nebulous at best.

“My personal estimate is that there are between 13 and 15 million firearms owned by people without criminal histories,” Mauser said.

“Although 20 million is not beyond reason.”

Public Safety Canada isn’t saying how much the federal government’s expanded gun ban will cost taxpayers — particularly after an eleventh-hour amendment that seemingly outlaws the vast majority of Canadian hunting and sport shooting rifles.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday morning, Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights CEO Rod Giltaca said among their concerns are the open-ended and problematic language around firearm variants.

“The door’s open at any time for the RCMP, upon instruction from the government, to ban everything — all bolt-action rifles, all single-shot rifles, all shotguns,” he said.

“A lot more people are affected this time around with this ban, a lot of people are waking up and starting to see that this really isn’t about public safety.”

Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters spokesman Shawn Cayley said little good will come from using firearms owners as a partisan wedge.

“Politics should be about good policy, but the firearms discourse is the complete opposite of that and it impacts all Canadians,” he told the National Post, accusing the government of “political theatre” while diverting attention from the root causes of gun violence.

In response, government ministers this week dismissed the concern as “Conservative fearmongering.”

“The government has no intention — no intention whatsoever — to go after long guns and hunting rifles,” Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino told the Canadian Press on Monday, despite the government’s own amendment that specifically reclassifies numerous long guns and hunting rifles as prohibited weapons.While the Conservative party made nobody available to the National Post for comment, vice-chair of the House public safety committee Raquel Dancho last week described the move as a “sneaky” attempt to subvert democracy while the bill’s still at committee.

“They are moving at the amendment stage to ban perfectly legitimate hunting rifles,” she told reporters last Wednesday.

“They’re being very sneaky about it because they did not allow this to be debated in its original form of the legislation — we were not able to debate this in the House; we were not able to call expert witnesses to weigh in on this.”

Statistics, expert opinion and even police chiefs say bans do little to slow Canada’s gun crime epidemic.

Numbers released last week by Statistics Canada show Canadian police services investigated 788 homicides last year, 29 more than 2020.

While 40 per cent of murder victims last year were shot to death, nearly half of homicides were gang-related.

So many popular long guns will be caught by it

Mauser maintains the government’s gun bans are part of a larger trend that has little to do with fighting crime.

“In a few short years, the Trudeau government has mandated the confiscation of more than one million firearms, with a total value of more than $4 billion, all owned by law-abiding Canadians,” he told the National Post.

“These confiscations are based entirely on vague claims about potential threats to public safety, will do basically nothing to make Canadians safer and target guns, not criminals.”

Two years ago, the Canadian Sport Arms and Ammunition Association estimated the losses to Canada’s sporting arms due to the government’s firearms bans at between $910 million and $1.04 billion.

Canada’s two million licensed gun owners, Mauser said, are RCMP-vetted and subjected to daily criminal record screening, and represent an insignificant portion of those accused of murder on a yearly basis, amounting to about 0.63 accused per 100,000 holders of a possession and acquisition licence.

Toronto police Chief Myron Demkiw told the Commons public safety committee earlier this year 90 per cent of crime guns in his city were sourced from the United States.

Regina police Chief Evan Bray was likewise skeptical on how effective gun bans will be in reducing violent crime.

“Most of the laws we create are not going to be followed by people committing crimes with the guns,” he told the committee in February.

“We have a ban on murder in Canada, and yet sadly we still have homicides happening all the time.”

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