Debate Over Guns Is Muted as Canada’s Election Nears

Debate Over Guns Is Muted as Canada’s Election Nears

Mr. O’Toole, the Conservative leader, with Mr. Trudeau, who leads the Liberals. Credit…Justin Tang/The Canadian Press, via Associated Press At the official debates, moderators dominated and, in the view of many, party leaders hardly debated. Among the issues given cursory treatment was gun control, a topic that the Conservative Party’s platform has reversed course on. Few issues divide urban and rural Canada more than guns. In cities and suburban areas, polls have shown for years that there’s strong support for even tighter restrictions. Horrific crimes like last year’s shooting and arson spree in Nova Scotia increase that sentiment. But in many rural areas and Indigenous communities, guns are a part of everyday life. Totaling up the numbers has been difficult since the Conservative government led by Stephen Harper eliminated the registry for shotguns and standard rifles. But the Small Arms Survey, a project based in Switzerland, estimates that there are 12.7 million legal and illegal guns held by private owners in Canada. There are 2.2 million Canadians who hold a license to buy and own guns. Last year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau banned 1,500 models of assault-style semiautomatic rifles after the shooting rampage in rural Nova Scotia that left 23 people dead. Although some designs of semiautomatics can still be owned, their use is limited. Erin O’Toole, the Conservative leader, began the election campaign by promising to roll back Mr. Trudeau’s assault weapon ban and roll back other Liberal anti-gun measures. He argued that they penalized law-abiding gun owners […]

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