Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

'Are we going to handcuff legal gun-owners, who have their guns legally and have been trained to maintain and store their guns legally, but woefully ignore illegal trafficking from the United States?' said Brian Sauvé, president of the National Police Federation, seen here at the RCMP Pacific Region Training Centre in Chilliwack, B.C., on Nov. 15, 2019.

Rafal Gerszak/The Globe and Mail

The fledgling police union representing 20,000 Mounties is denouncing Ottawa’s plan to ban certain semi-automatic rifles, arguing enforcing the law will tie up depleted police resources while ignoring the criminal use of illegal firearms.

In its first position paper, released on Monday, the National Police Federation said Ottawa’s prohibition of what it calls assault-style rifles focuses on criminalizing law-abiding gun-owners while ignoring the main catalysts of rising gun crime: gang violence and cross-border firearms trafficking.

The publication adds to mounting criticism of the Liberal gun control plan and signals the union’s intention to flex its newfound political muscle.

Story continues below advertisement

“Are we going to handcuff legal gun-owners, who have their guns legally and have been trained to maintain and store their guns legally, but woefully ignore illegal trafficking from the United States?” said Brian Sauvé, elected as union’s first president one year ago. “Or is it a better use of Canadian resources and taxpayer dollars to actually fund border integrity programs or weapons enforcement programs or our partners at the [Canada Border Services Agency]?”

Ottawa’s municipal handgun ban is a proud continuation of its gun control theatre

Such criticisms of the Liberal plan to ban and buy back certain semi-automatic rifles are familiar, but they generally come from Conservative politicians and pro-gun groups, not front-line law enforcement who have mourned colleagues felled by high-powered rifles.

Six years ago, a gunman with a semi-automatic rifle killed three RCMP officers in Moncton. A subsequent review detailed how officers were outgunned as they responded to the heavily armed shooter.

Canadian police chiefs have been among the main proponents of an assault-rifle ban in the past. As far back as 1977, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police urged the government of the day to restrict all semi-automatic firearms, referring to them as instruments of war. The current president of the group, Vancouver police Chief Adam Palmer, said the Liberal ban “finds balance” and “ensures the safety of our members.”

A spokeswoman for Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said the rifle ban won’t deplete RCMP resources. “The police have not been tasked with anything related to the prohibition and the proposed buy back will not involve law enforcement,” said Mary-Liz Power in an e-mailed statement.

The RCMP union disagrees, stating in the paper that the ban “diverts extremely important personnel, resources and funding away from addressing the more immediate and growing threat of criminal use of illegal firearms.”

Instead, the group wants Ottawa to dedicate funding to the RCMP Border Integrity Program to investigate and dismantle gun-smuggling rings, and the Canadian Firearms Program, which it says lacks the resources “to provide effective gun crime tracing and enforcement units.”

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Sauvé pointed out that the number of RCMP officers deployed to Windsor, Ont., has dropped to 17 from 35 in recent years.

“If we’re pulling away resources from one of the busiest land crossings in Canada, are we ignoring illicit firearms crossing into the country?” he said.

Ottawa has pledged funds for other approaches to gun violence as well, including $327-million to address social conditions that give rise to violence, $51.5-million toward firearms detections at the Canada Border Services Agency and $34.5-million to the RCMP for illicit firearms investigations.

The RCMP on Monday said they were aware of the position paper, but refrained from commenting on the contents.

The paper highlights the role of illegal handguns – rather than legal rifles – in rising national gun violence. In 2019, handguns were involved in 60 per cent of the country’s 261 firearms homicides, according to Statistics Canada. A Globe and Mail analysis last year found that popular magazine-fed semi-automatic rifles, such as the AR-15, make up just 0.66 per cent of entries in an RCMP database that catalogues firearms evidence collected from homicides and attempted homicides.

On May 1, the Liberals banned the AR-15 and hundreds of other magazine-fed semi-automatic rifle models and granted owners a two-year amnesty period, during which they will be able to sell their firearms to the government. Rather than enact a national handgun ban, the federal government will grant municipalities authority to adopt local prohibitions.

Story continues below advertisement

The position paper on gun violence is the first in a series of announcements designed to situate the NFP in the national policy conversation. Mr. Sauvé said the organization will release further reports focusing on body-worn cameras, First Nations policing and contract policing.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies