Gun-control advocates want more attention paid to Canada’s gun lobby

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics
Owners of registered long guns are being encouraged by Canada's biggest firearms lobby group to swap their firearms with each other to show that the data in the federal long-gun registry is 'useless'

Following the horrific Newton Connecticut elementary school shooting, much has been written about the powerful 'gun lobby' in the United States and influence on legislators.

Well, maybe we should start paying attention to activities of Canada's gun lobby.

They may have flown under the radar, but firearm advocates have been active in this country — in recent years — playing an important role in the demise of the long-gun registry.

"NRA has successfully exported its hardline lobbying tactics north into Canada by working with Conservative party members and pro-gun groups in the current fight to repeal the federal long-gun registry," the Toronto Star's Bob Hepburn wrote in 2010.

[ Related: Liberal leadership hopeful Marc Garneau floats ban on assault rifles ]

"The NRA is helping Canadian groups fight the registry by raising money and coaching them on how to lobby politicians.

It's clear now that killing the gun registry was just a starting point for Canada's gun lobby.

...Enter the the Harper government's firearms advisory committee.

According to a 2008 Now Magazine report, that committee used to include experts from all sides of the gun debate. Now — according to the Toronto Star — it's headed by "two firearms experts and dealers" and is "thick with gun advocates."

It's been reported that the committee has asked public safety minister Vic Toewes to loosen gun regulations. One of their recent recommendations was that certain prohibited firearms be reclassified as restricted.

While the Prime Minister quickly dismissed that specific recommendation in the House, PostMedia reports that "the government seems to be open to some of the committee’s other recommendations, including one that would extend the duration of firearm owners’ licences" from 5 years to 10 years.

[ Related: U.S. shooting reignites gun control debate in Quebec ]

Wendy Cukier, president of the Coalition for Gun Control, told PostMedia that Canada is actually one of the few countries in the industrialized world that has loosened gun control laws in recent years.

"Most countries are strengthening their gun laws," she said.

The Toronto Star's editorial board does a good job of chronicling the Tories' gun legislation.

"The Tories have...curried favour with gun advocates with legislation to make sure gun dealers don’t have to keep records of who buys rifles and shotguns. They’ve deferred rules to track firearms more easily. And they’ve repealed gun show regulations."

Just minutes after news broke about the Newton shootings last week, a score of people took to Twitter — on both sides of the border — denouncing U.S. gun laws, while touting Canada's.

[ Related: America's reaction to gun violence? More guns ]

I think most of us are proud to live in a country that has relatively strict gun laws to our neighbours to the south.

I think most of us just hope it stays that way.