Canadian government says ‘No’ to lifting AR-15 restrictions

In news from the Great White North, the federal government has rejected a petition signed by more than 25,000 Canadians urging to end restrictions on AR-15s.

Canada ranks 12 in the world for guns per capita, with 30.8 guns per 100 residents, which compares favorably with #1 ranked U.S. which has 88.8 guns per 100 residents. Of course the country has a number of restrictions against small concealable pistols, extended capacity 10/22 magazines, and the like but are more lax in other areas such as imported milsurp Russian rifles (you can buy SVT-40s there fairly cheap) and short barreled shotguns (factory-made Dominion Arms Grizzlies with 8.5-inch barrels are unrestricted and mega sweet).

When it comes to AR-15 rifles and many other popular semi-automatic rifles, they aren’t totally prohibited (Colt Canada sells a lot commercially in several variants) but they are restricted which means they require a license, have to be registered, and have some prohibitions such as where and how they are stored so that they cannot break free and run amok. Besides this, restricted rifles cannot be used to hunt with, instead only being used for specified purposes, such as target shooting at an approved club or range.

Nevertheless, they are extremely popular. According to the Brock Press the number of restricted firearms in Canada has nearly doubled since 2004, with the largest increases occurring right after former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party formed majority government.

The 795,854 restricted weapons currently registered to Canadians blows away the 384,888 weapons owned just 12 years ago.

This led to a Parliamentary e-petition to the House of Commons started by Marc Bennett from Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador, asking Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Ralph Goodale to reclassify the AR-15 back to non-restricted status “so we can once again use this rifle to lawfully participate in the Canadian cultural practices of hunting.”

The petition argues the AR-15 was restricted purely because of their cosmetic appearance and there is no inherent difference between it and thousands of other firearms in Canada that are unrestricted.

With 25,249 Canadians signing on to the petition in six months, Goodale responded with a polite but firm, no.

“The government is committed to putting decision-making authority about weapons classification back into the hands of police, not politicians,” wrote Goodale. “The Government has committed to getting handguns and assault weapons off our streets and to strengthening controls on such weapons.”

This hasn’t stopped the cities of Winnipeg, Regina and Toronto among other from adding AR-15s to their police arsenals for use in high risk vehicle stops and home entries this year.

For more information on how Canada’s gun laws function, check out the three video set on Guns in Canada by our very own Ben Philipi, who speaks fluent Molson.