In politics, as in most things, timing is everything. And when it comes to Conservative Party of Canada leadership candidate Patrick Brown’s tweet about the Trudeau government’s “anti-firearm policies,” posted just a few hours before yet another mass school shooting in the United States left 19 young children and two adults dead, it couldn’t have been much worse.

“I will scrap the Firearms Act in its entirety and work with experts — including law-abiding firearm owners — to replace it with a new law that takes protecting our streets just as seriously as (it) does defending the rights of Canadians,” Brown’s tweet read.

Canadians, of course, don’t have some sort of inalienable right to own high-powered weapons the way Americans do with their Second Amendment. The carnage that continues to unfold there on an almost daily basis, and the steadfast refusal by Republican legislators to do anything about it, shows why that difference matters — and why those selling unfettered freedom should be asked more often about the price paid for it.

But the most telling aspect of Brown’s tweet is the fact that it is still up four days later, well after the horror of the Texas shooting has become obvious. It speaks to the power the pro-gun lobby wields within his party and the degree to which its potential leaders feel the need to genuflect in its direction. It also shows Brown is drawing on the recent experience of former leader Erin O’Toole, who faced backlash from his own side in the 2021 election when he tried to walk back the party’s promise to repeal the Liberal assault weapons ban.

Brown is hardly alone on that front. In a recent keynote speech at the Canadian Shooting Sports Association’s “Stick To Your Guns” dinner, Conservative leadership hopeful Pierre Poilievre said his government would “end the attacks on our lawful, licensed, vetted hunters and farmers.” Like Brown, he’s promised to repeal the federal government’s recent assault weapon ban, and it’s safe to assume he intends to actually keep that promise.

The National Firearms Association, which counts upwards of 75,000 Canadians as members, certainly hasn’t given up its fight to loosen Canada’s gun laws. As its president and CEO Sheldon Clare says on the association’s website, “We continue to fight the three failed legs of the gun control stool — licensing of owners, classification of firearms, and registration of firearms. None of those programs serve public safety and are merely barriers to lawful firearm ownership.”

The (latest) Texas shooting should serve as a reminder of the high cost Americans pay for their embrace of firearm ownership, lawful or not. In America, there are now more guns than people, and the unending parade of mass shootings drives those numbers even further out of whack. The only thing that can stop this cycle of mass violence is a bipartisan consensus around gun control, and that seems only slightly less improbable in America right now than Jesus Christ running for president in 2024.

In Canada, though, we can still keep this grotesque genie inside its bottle. That will require the Liberal government to move forward on its election promise to stiffen Canada’s gun control laws even further. Those measures include a ban on the sale or transfer of high-capacity magazines, a requirement that long-gun magazines be permanently altered so they can never hold more than five rounds and increasing maximum penalties for firearm trafficking and smuggling. Recent comments by Justice Minister David Lametti and Public Safety Minister Marco Mendocino suggest those measures are forthcoming.

Keeping the gun-rights genie safely contained will also require us to shine a bright light on the conservative politicians and pundits who continue to put the rights of gun owners ahead of the rights of everyone else.

Yes, they will complain that now is “not the time” to politicize a tragedy. Never mind, for the moment, that it hasn’t stopped any number of conservatives from doing exactly that, from the writers at The Federalist suggesting the tragedy in Texas makes the “somber case” for homeschooling to Republican legislators once again blaming violent video games and music.

Opinion: American-style freedom comes with American-style costs, writes columnist @maxfawcett in the wake of this week's Texas school shooting. #GunControl #cdnpoli

The real question should be: If now isn’t the time to talk about this, when is?

It’s a conversation candidates in the Conservative Party of Canada’s leadership race are understandably anxious to avoid. While a 2021 poll showed two-thirds of the Canadian public supported stronger gun control laws, that percentage is far lower among the CPC base. Now, more than ever, those seeking to lead the CPC should be asked to explain that discrepancy. Will the Conservatives commit to putting the rights and freedoms of parents and children ahead of gun owners in this country, or will they continue their party’s tradition of pandering to a lobby group that wants to water down Canada’s gun control laws — and only speaks for a tiny slice of Canadian society?

If they want some help answering that, they should look to James Moore, a former Harper-era cabinet minister and adviser to Dentons and Edelman Canada, who expressed a level of moral clarity that seems lacking in the party he used to represent. “Enough Americans are prepared to witness a certain number of casualties so that they can enjoy limitless access to their dangerous and deadly toys,” he tweeted. “The ‘freedom’ is more important than the freedom from fear of kids in schools.”

This is the real conversation we should be having about freedom in this country. For all the juvenile talk about “gatekeepers” and vaccinate mandates, the (latest) Texas shooting shows how one person’s unfettered freedoms can sometimes brutally curtail those of others. If we want our country to remain as safe as possible, we need to remember American-style freedom comes with American-style costs.

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Now is EXACTLY the time to be talking about gun controls - when the carnage of Republican American espousal of the "so called freedom" to own unlimited numbers of weapons designed for combat is before us (though, sadly, it likely won't be long before another such incident arises). This Second Amendment "right" is really a relatively new thing. Read American historian Heather Cox Richardson's blog comments on this issue: https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/p/may-26-2022?s=r

With freedom comes responsibility. The gun lobby refuses to acknowlege theirs. Freedom without responsibility does not work!

Excellent analysis in that blog, especially the fact that those 7 local police officers were naturally scared even though there was only ONE gunman so they preferred to wait for the "super" heroes on the SWAT team which the town spent so dearly to create-- 40% of their budget was spent on policing?!
The male heroic myth is a threat to our collective survival at this point as it is, but in America where everything is MORE and bigger, including that it has been fully indulged like every other male dream and desire, which is why their society is literally teetering on a precipice now. It has boiled down to the undeniable fact that many men just LOVE to compete with and/or fight with other men, or at least watch others do it, hence the wild popularity of sports, the acceptable sublimation; it's as primal an urge as sex. Every single solitary mass murderer or shooter, period, in the 3500 that were spoken of in the blog, every single one, was a guy. Along with the insane plethora of guns available in the States, should that fact not be examined more than it is, or at least mentioned? One reason it isn't is because the entire driver of the political right wing is the definitive male values of competition, "heroism" and winning at all costs. Their women are just that, "their women" who are primarily cheerleaders for the guys and/or "the country" which are one and the same. The political left wing can generally be seen as much less archetypal, and more "effeminate" in comparison but actually just provide the necessary balance of an overall human or societal perspective.
Here in Lethbridge during the lockdown, a wrestling coach who owned a gym summed it up when he said on the news, "guys gotta grapple."

Maybe at this point you can tell me how many crimes in Canada occur with legally obtained fire arms? Politicians block me for asking that question; maybe Max Fawcett can answer that.

Maybe we can encourage our politicians to do the right thing and entrench mental health and social support and education into our system. Those three things will go light years further than any fir arm law would in Canada.

We don't have a fire arm problem in Canada, we have mental health, health care, and social support problem in Canada.

A liberal minded person would look at this and see the true problem, not jus the tool wihtin the problem.

This article is about the Liberals deliberately differentiating the left wing from the right AND Canada from the States, which is approved of by the majority BOTH here and there when it comes to guns. The issue has been fully embraced by conservatives because they're the party of what has clearly become male FREEDUMB. There are clearly a lot of insecure males in society, never more than now apparently, which I agree desperately needs to be addressed, and education focusing on that would help. We've moved some way toward "liberating" women, enabling them to be complete human beings, but now we need to do the same with men. Many leave their entire emotional lives up to women while perversely reacting against "feminism" with a kneejerk aversion so deep they don't recognize it themselves, but to women looks like them still fighting a juvenile battle against their mothers or girlfriends or wives "telling them what to do." Oppositional defiance disorder with all its stubborn stupidity defines conservatives at this point. It's dangerous.
The enduring Republican argument that you put forward, the "good guy with a gun" one ignores the equally enduring power of the mythology of "maleness" in the revolutionary U.S of A. which has gotten right out of hand, and is personified by the purely obstructionist Republican party. They're single handedly destroying American democracy and wisely, the Liberals see that, along with all reasonable people, but the right wing has now officially lost its mind, which is why they keep sucking and blowing on all the important issues. They have no business being in charge of any modern society at this point.

Well, most of the recent high profile mass murders in Canada were, as I recall. Ecole Polytechnique, yes. Mosque massacre, yes. Portapique, a mix, some were smuggled, some bought legally--although if that guy hadn't been so buddy-buddy with the cops maybe he'd have been busted by then for the smuggled ones. In smaller scale crime, typically people who commit crimes with firearms they don't own legally are doing it with firearms they STOLE from people who DID own them legally. So if you eliminate certain categories from legal ownership and reduce the pool of legally owned firearms to steal, you're going to reduce gun crime.

In any case, there's definitely a correlation between stronger gun control laws and less gun violence (both crime and things like accidental death and suicide). We can be pretty definite it's causal in the case of accidental death and suicide, which rack up some big numbers themselves so are worth reducing in their own right. In the case of crime, maybe it isn't causal--maybe it's just that the kind of society that is enough against violence to enact gun control laws is also going to do other things that reduce gun violence. But gun control laws are AT A MINIMUM one marker of the kind of society that reduces gun violence. I'm up for Canada being that kind of society.

I live in rural BC, and sadly many people here vote Conservative primarily because of the gun control issue. They want to retain the right to have their hunting rifles and they fear gun control legislation by Liberal governments. Remember when the Liberals under Chretien passed gun control legislation in the 90's (including the long gun registry) and then Harper weakened that legislation when he came to power, scrapping the long gun registry?

So over the years the Conservatives have gained votes by opposing gun control legislation. And the pro-gun lobby seems to be very powerful in Canada, spreading fear amongst gun owners.

Somehow we need to find a way to have meaningful gun control laws while assuring responsible gun owners that they won't lose their hunting rifles.

And no one needs to own an assault rifle such as an AK-47. But some gun owners insist that the have these guns as part of their gun collections...

How can we have a meaningful discussion in Canada on this topic without hyperbole, accusation and fear mongering? And I agree that the concept of "freedom" is once again being misused by some Conservatives (and the Far Right) for their own political advantage. How can we have a meaningful dialogue about freedom?

The whole gun issue has become highly symbolic and therefore emotionally charged. I think we should just allow the word "freedom" to evolve naturally into "freedumb" because that's what has happened thanks to the upstart juvenile stupidity on the political right.
More adult complexity and nuance is clearly required, not to mention relativity and perspective. These immature rebel-without-a- pause guys simply need to be slapped down as with the trucker convoy, put in their place, and reminded that the majority in this country is NOT on their side but hews instead strongly toward "peace, order and good government." Canada came about through "evolution" and the U.S. came about through "revolution." The differences are profound.
Owning a gun should obviously be difficult, with many requirements with most farmers and hunters qualifying, but assault rifles remaining illegal only makes sense. And since we live next door to the country that is totally psycho about guns, stupidly allowing more of them than people for gods' sake, it will always be possible to get hold of one, but unlike drugs, we now know from the example set by the States that we have to clamp down as strongly as possible. Australia actually called in firearms and confiscated them to address a growing problem. That should be brought up more often. It worked.

Of course for practical purposes, tons of guns all over the place has an effect that is the opposite of freedom. I don't think that Canada generally has schools where children have to go through metal detectors, get frisked etc., or schools where actual police officers are constantly on the premises and get used as a backup to disciplinary failure. When the teacher might call the school cop over to handcuff and maybe even arrest your kid for acting out, is that really a whole lot of freedom? More like a police state, no?

But that kind of thing is the outcome of the atmosphere of fear that comes from everyone and their kid brother (literally) having guns.

Other English speaking countries like the UK and Australia get along quite well with strict gun control, buybacks, prohibitions. It's time now to do that in Canada. Assault-style weapons have no place in civilized societies..  Asking first responders to pick up pieces of children's bodies so they take DNA to determine identify s too much to ask. Because an Assault-style weapon literally cut those US children to pieces. Tell me again Sheldon Clare, Patrick Brown, and Jason Kenney why 100s of thousands of Canadians need weapons which can humans in half or disfigure them so much you can't identify them. Who are you at war with?