Pro-gun marchers speak out on federal government’s assault weapons ban

Pro-gun activists marched in Ottawa on Saturday to contest what they describe as the “injustice and ineffectiveness” of the federal government’s assault weapons ban.

The Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights (CCFR) is behind the outdoor event on Parliament Hill, dubbed an “integrity march,” to advocate for the rights of its members.

The organization, which did not respond to a request for comment, says on its website that the event is aimed at showing Canadians that gun owners are “your friends, colleagues and neighbours.”

In May, the Liberal government announced it would be banning a range of 1,500 types of assault-style weapons, which it said were designed for the battlefield — not hunting or sport shooting.

Gun advocates say they are worried that a large swath of the public agrees.

Nathalie Provost, a survivor of the massacre of 14 women at École Polytechnique in Montreal on Dec. 6, 1989, and a spokesperson for gun-control group PolySeSouvient, said the government’s objective was not to penalize everyday citizens who take part in activities like hunting, for example.

“A hunter has the right to hunt. My family has hunters — there’s no problem,” Provost said. “What worries us the most is there is little gun control.”

She said pro-gun activists are organizing the march because they are worried.

“They are worried about losing a privilege,” she said. “I think they are very worried, and they realize many Canadians want those weapons removed from the market.”

Fourteen beams of light point skyward during a ceremony in Montreal on Dec. 6, 2019, to mark the 30th anniversary of the 1989 École Polytechnique shooting, in which 14 female students were killed. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

Buy-back program voluntary, not compulsory

The Trudeau government announced in May that it is now banning the use, sale and import of assault weapons into Canada. The government has set up a buy-back program to take the guns out of circulation, but that program would be voluntary and not compulsory, which rankles gun-control advocates.

“The tap that allowed the entry of new assault weapons is closed, but there are still quite a few in the pool,” Provost said.

She said she wants these types of weapons to disappear completely from the Canadian landscape.

The federal government has moved to ban the sale and import of several types of semi-automatic firearms in Canada. (CBC News)

“It’s maddening the speed at which these weapons destroy.”

For its part, the CCFR has challenged the constitutionality of the government’s ministerial order in the Federal Court of Canada.

It argues in its challenge that the banned rifles are weapons intended for hunting and sport shooting, since that is how their owners have used them for decades.

The group argues that the new regulations, enacted by ministerial decree, are illegal and go beyond the scope of the powers conferred on the federal cabinet.

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