Category Archives: Assault weapons

Canada Orders Immediate Ban on Assault Weapons in Wake of Deadly Mass Shooting

PM Justin Trudeau said the government had been in the process of introducing the ban when its agenda was overturned by the pandemic.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada attending a news conference in Ottawa on Friday. Credit…Blair Gable/Reuters
New York Times, by Ian Austen, May 1, 2020

OTTAWA — Nearly two weeks after the deadliest mass shooting in Canada’s history, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday introduced an immediate ban on what he described as “military-style assault weapons.”

“These weapons were designed for one purpose and one purpose only: to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time,” Mr. Trudeau said. “There is no use and no place for such weapons in Canada.”

The ban means that Canadians will no longer be able to own rifles like the AR-15, the military-style weapon used in several mass shootings in the United States including those in Newtown, Conn.; Orlando, Fla.; and Parkland, Fla.

By introducing the ban, Mr. Trudeau partly fulfills a gun control promise he made during last year’s federal elections. He said the government had been in the process of introducing an assault weapons ban when its agenda was overturned by the coronavirus pandemic.

In making the announcement, Mr. Trudeau noted several gun killings and repeatedly cited the shooting rampage in rural Nova Scotia that left 23 people dead, including the gunman.

The gunman’s arsenal included two models banned on Friday, said Bill Blair, the country’s public safety minister.

The killer did not have a firearms license and many of his guns and rifles had been smuggled into Canada from the United States, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, highlighting one difficulty Canada may face in enforcing the new measure. The U.S. federal government has not barred assault weapons since a previous ban expired in 2004.

The swift response by Mr. Trudeau to the killings in Nova Scotia stands in contrast to that of officials in the United States, where repeated efforts to renew the now-lapsed assault weapons ban have failed.

A makeshift memorial for Royal Canadian Mounted Police Constable Heidi Stevenson, who was killed in the shooting in Nova Scotia. Credit…Tim Krochak/Reuters

The Canadian government has drawn up a list of about 1,500 gun models covered by the new ban. It estimates that about 100,000 such semiautomatic rifles are now legally owned by Canadians.

Mr. Trudeau said the government will introduce legislation to buy back the rifles, another part of his campaign promise, at a future date. Until then, owners have been given two years to keep their rifles although they can no longer use them, trade them or sell them except to buyers outside Canada with a permit. Gun shops can return any of the weapons they now have in stock to manufacturers.

While handguns and automatic weapons are tightly restricted in Canada, most rifles and shotguns have been more loosely regulated. The previous Conservative government shut down a registry for such weapons that had been set up after a man gunned down 14 young women and injured 13 others in 1989 at the École Polytechnique engineering school in Montreal.

That database was beset by technical problems and was deeply unpopular in rural areas. Mr. Trudeau has resisted calls from gun control groups to revive it.

Mr. Trudeau said on Friday that his planned legislation will also include a measure that will allow cities to ban handguns within their boundaries, another of his campaign pledges.

Andrew Scheer, the leader of the Conservative Party, repeated his longstanding opposition to any ban and buyback of military-style weapons, noting that many mass killers, including Gabriel Wortman in Nova Scotia, and other criminals use illegal firearms brought in from the United States.

“It’s easy but lazy government to ask the people who follow all the rules to follow more rules,” Mr. Scheer told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He also criticized Mr. Trudeau for introducing the measure through a cabinet order while Parliament is not meeting in normal sessions because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Wendy Cukier, the president of the Coalition for Gun Control, said that most mass shootings in Canada have involved legally owned rifles and said there’s evidence that the availability of military-style weapons may make such killings more likely.

“Most mass shooters are law abiding until they are not,” she said.

What motivated the 13.5-hour killing spree in Nova Scotia by Mr. Wortman, a denture fitter, remains unknown. It started in the tiny summer community of Portapique when Mr. Wortman assaulted his partner and tied her up. She escaped and he began shooting people inside and outside of their homes while he also set fire to several buildings, including some of his own properties.

After the police arrived shortly before midnight on April 18, they found two replica Royal Canadian Mounted Police cruisers registered to Mr. Wortman on fire and located a third at his full-time residence in Halifax. That led the police to believe, they said, that he may have committed suicide and was in one of the burning buildings.

But after hiding in the woods all night, Mr. Wortman’s partner told police that he was traveling in a fourth replica police car that did not have license plates. Investigators subsequently discovered that he had eluded them by driving through a farm field and then hiding in another town where he resumed his killing spree in the morning.

He was eventually shot and killed after pulling into a gas station while driving a car belonging to one of the victims.

Ms. Cukier acknowledged that the government will have to continually update its list to prevent manufacturers from circumventing the ban by modifying current models and reintroducing them as new weapons. Her group, she said, will recommend that future legislation focus more on a system in which gunmakers must get approval to sell specific weapons rather than on steps to ban the weapons.

And while her group generally takes stances that oppose those of the Conservatives, she agreed that more must be done about smuggled weapons.

“There are a lot of things that have to happen,” she said. “Most Canadians don’t know the extent to which our laws have been eroded.”

Alan Drummond, who has long pushed for more gun controls through the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians, praised Mr. Trudeau and members of his cabinet for their unequivocal statements about the need to ban assault weapons.

“What struck me was the absolute clarity and conviction,” he said.

Texas Lawmaker Issues Death Threat to Beto O’Rourke After Debate Pledge to Take Away Assault-Style Weapons

Slate, by Elliot Hannon, Sept 13, 2019

Beto O’Rourke was uniquely outspoken in his calls for gun control during Thursday night’s Democratic debate in Houston. The former Texas congressman, whose hometown of El Paso recently was the victim of a mass shooting at a Walmart, was asked if he’d take away assault-style weapons that are often used in mass shootings. “Hell yes,” O’Rourke responded. “We’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47. We’re not going to allow it to be used against a fellow American anymore.”

It seemed inevitable that O’Rourke’s call to ban ownership of military-style weapons would rile up the guns=distilled liberty true believers online, but it was, perhaps predictably, an elected Republican official—from the state of Texas no less—who led the way over the cliff. Texas state Rep. Briscoe Cain tweeted a not-so-thinly veiled threat at the presidential contender, tweeting, “My AR is ready for you Robert Francis,” calling O’Rourke, whose nickname is Beto, by his first and middle names.

The O’Rourke campaign said it reported the 34-year-old state representative’s tweet to the FBI. Twitter took down the tweet, saying it had violated its terms of service. “It violates our rules for threats of violence,” a company spokesperson said late Thursday night. “You may not threaten violence against an individual or a group of people.”

Cain, however, was unrepentant, tweeting “You’re a child Robert Francis.”

Not what I expected: Mike Thompson on gun violence

By Roger Straw
U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson – Gun Violence Prevention Task Force  mikethompson.house.gov/issues/gun-violence-prevention

An influential Benicia resident (who wishes to remain anonymous) wrote to me on May 22, highly concerned over our Rep. Mike Thompson’s moderate statements on the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force page on his website.  Her email subject line was “Not what I expected: Mike Thompson on gun violence.”  She wrote:

Rep. Mike Thompson, District 5, has been chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force in the US House of Representative for several years. Here is his disturbing current statement on the Task Force site: note: there are links on the site about his gun prevention plans.  From his website…

“As a hunter and gun owner I believe we should protect a law-abiding individual’s Second Amendment right to own firearms. As a dad and grandfather I also believe that we have a responsibility to make our schools, streets and communities safe. We can do both, but Congress will need to step up.

After being named chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force in the U.S. House of Representatives, I held a series of open town halls in our district that examined some of the actions that Congress could take. Hundreds attended these meetings. I heard views from law enforcement officials, mental health experts, school officials, NRA members and gun control advocates. Many feared that their Second Amendment rights would come under attack when my task force made its recommendations to Congress. Others wanted to cast those rights aside.

I believe both views are too extreme. I will never give up my guns and I will never ask law-abiding Americans without a history of dangerous mental illness to give up theirs. Not only am I personally against this, the Constitution does not allow it. In District of Columbia v. Heller the Supreme Court affirmed once and for all that Americans have a right to keep and bear arms.

However, just as the First Amendment protects free speech but doesn’t allow you to incite violence, the Second Amendment has restrictions too. As conservative justice Anthony Scalia outlined, Heller does not prohibit laws forbidding firearms in places such as schools, nor does it restrict laws prohibiting felons and the mentally ill from carrying guns.

This ruling provides people on both sides of the issue with an opportunity to work within the confines of the Second Amendment and pass legislation that will reduce and prevent gun violence.”

I wrote back, detailing Mike’s stated views on assault weapons: “After the Parkland FL school shooting in February … Mike held a Benicia town Hall on March 17, where he very clearly, more than once, stated that ‘military grade automatic and semi-automatic assault weapons do not belong in the hands of citizens.'” (See Mike Thompson makes news in Benicia: ‘military grade assault weapons do not belong in citizens’ hands’.)

I wrote to Thompson’s staff, sharing our concern about the Gun Violence Prevention page on his website, and suggesting they update the page to show Mike’s evolving views on this subject.  “I hope you will pass this on to Mike and make an effort to update the website, calling for new and more stringent controls on guns, with special attention to military grade automatic and semi-automatic assault weapons.”

I heard back that same day with a promise to pass our concern on to Mike’s communications director in Washington D.C., Alex Macfarlane.

As of today, there have been no updates on Mike’s Gun Violence Prevention page.  Similarly, I can find no mention of assault weapons or automatic / semi-automatic weapons on Thompson’s Facebook page.  I hope to hear from his office about changes, and will report here with updates.

Contact Rep. Mike Thompson – ask him what is his position on banning military grade automatic and semi-automatic assault weapons:

Roger Straw
Benicia

Federal judge upholds Massachusetts assault weapons ban; doesn’t violate 2nd Amendment

Repost from The Washington Post

Judge: Assault weapons ban doesn’t violate 2nd Amendment

By Alanna Durkin Richer | AP April 6 at 4:05 PM
FILE – In this April 10, 2013 file photo, craftsman Veetek Witkowski holds a newly assembled AR-15 rifle at the Stag Arms company in New Britain, Conn. A ruling released Friday, April 6, 2018, by a federal judge in Boston, dismissed a lawsuit challenging Massachusetts’ ban on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines, stating that assault weapons are beyond the scope of the Second Amendment right to “bear arms.” (Charles Krupa, File/Associated Press)

BOSTON — Assault weapons and large-capacity magazines are not protected by the Second Amendment, a federal judge said in a ruling Friday upholding Massachusetts’ ban on the weapons.

U.S. District Judge William Young dismissed a lawsuit challenging the 20-year-old ban, saying assault weapons are military firearms that fall beyond the reach of the constitutional right to “bear arms.”

Regulation of the weapons is a matter of policy, not for the courts, he said.

“Other states are equally free to leave them unregulated and available to their law-abiding citizens,” Young said. “These policy matters are simply not of constitutional moment. Americans are not afraid of bumptious, raucous and robust debate about these matters. We call it democracy.”

State Attorney General Maura Healey said the ruling “vindicates the right of the people of Massachusetts to protect themselves from these weapons of war.”

“Strong gun laws save lives, and we will not be intimidated by the gun lobby in our efforts to end the sale of assault weapons and protect our communities and schools,” Healey, a Democrat, said in a statement. “Families across the country should take heart in this victory.”

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