Don Martin: Gun bill could become ammunition for the opposition
Published Thursday, March 15, 2018 5:52PM EDT
There's a gun fight of sorts coming to the House of Commons floor next week.
It’ll erupt over a bill, expected to be tabled Tuesday, taking aim at keeping firearms away from the mentally ill or out of the hands of those with violent backgrounds.
So far, so good.
But sources say other provisions have senior officials bracing for a backlash.
The legislation will, for example, force gun shop retailers to validate a gun license before completing the purchase and to keep the name of gun buyers on file.
Rural voters will see that – no doubt egged on by Conservative attacks – as the return of the gun registry boondoggle under an assumed name.
And the bill will leave it to police, not as it is now with the politicians, to make the call on which currently restricted weapons should be put on the prohibition list.
In Liberal urban strongholds increasingly hearing the echo of gunfire from gangs, the NDP might argue that’s dodging electoral responsibility to act against the rise in gun crime.
Sensing potential knockback is why some Liberals MPs reportedly stood up to the prime minister in private recently to demand more consultation on the bill. But Justin Trudeau was having none of it, delivering an uncharacteristic smack down of the nervous nellies in front of the entire caucus.
Perhaps that’s because there’s a common sense argument behind most of the provisions.
When police elevate restricted guns like the notorious AR-15 to the prohibition list, most Canadians will get it. After all, this isn’t the sort of weapon you use to hunt deer or ducks.
And it’s hard to hammer a bill as Big Brother intrusive just because it forces retailers to record the name of gun buyers to assist police tracking weapons used in a major crime.
As for ramping up efforts to keep guns away from the violent or mentally ill, only the National Rifle Association could see evil in that laudable objective.
As always, the details could be devilish enough to give the opposition parties high caliber ammunition to use against the government.
But if the opposition parties are divided over whether it’s too hard or too soft, the mushy middle is undoubtedly the sweet spot between gun ownership restrictions and hunter freedom.
That’s the Last Word.