Criminal Law

Goldlist decries ‘latest attack on legal gun owners’

By Randy O’Donnell, AdvocateDaily.com Associate Editor

Targeting law-abiding citizens to change the behaviour of those who ignore the law “makes absolutely no sense,” says Toronto criminal lawyer Jordana Goldlist.

Her reaction comes on the heels of a release from the office of Liberal MP Bill Blair stating that the federal government is considering all options to clamp down on guns “designed to hunt people” as it weighs new measures against assault-style rifles and handguns.

“The new bill will restrict the freedoms of law-abiding gun owners and penalize those who do not comply. There is nothing in the new bill or the proposed bans that will have any effect on crime,” Goldlist, principal of JHG Criminal Law, tells AdvocateDaily.com.

The Canadian Press (CP) reports the sharply worded statement from Blair, the minister leading the weapon review, comes amid concerns from gun-control advocates that such rifles are becoming more readily available on the legal market.

Firearms groups, meanwhile, fear the government is poised to penalize law-abiding owners in the name of appearing tough on criminals, CP says.

At the very least, the Liberals are sharpening their message amid rumours of a possible ban of the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, the national news agency reports.

“Assault-style rifles are military weapons designed to hunt people, and not animals, in the most efficient manner possible that maximizes the body count at minimum effort,” Blair’s office said in a statement to CP.

“These weapons are for use in the battlefield, but too often they have been brought into our communities and used to target and kill law enforcement, women, members of the LGBTQ2S community, religious observers and children doing nothing more than attending class.

“There is no option that will be discounted, and all possibilities will be considered,” the statement concluded.

Goldlist, a sports shooter and gun collector, agrees with Blair’s view on military weapons, adding that they are already banned in Canada. However, she disagrees with the government’s assessment of the AR-15.

“The AR-15 may look like a military weapon, but it does not function like one and is therefore not a military weapon. The fact that a Chrysler 300 looks like a Bentley does not make it a Bentley,” she says.

“A quick Google search suggests there has never been an instance in Canada where an AR-15 was used in a mass shooting. Since 1975, there have been 101 police officers murdered in the line of duty — none at the hands of an AR-15. The LGBT community has never been the target of a mass shooting in Canada. This is an arbitrary attack on a gun that ‘looks scary,’” Goldlist says.

CP reports the Senate recently approved a federal bill that will expand the scope of background checks on those who want to acquire guns, strengthen record-keeping requirements for sellers, and require purchasers to present valid firearms licences.

But the Liberals have long been eyeing additional measures, CP reports. The process took on new urgency after a shooting last July in Toronto that killed two people, injured 13, led to the gunman’s death, and left a neighbourhood deeply shaken.

Two days later, Toronto city council passed a motion calling on the federal government to outlaw the sale of handguns in the city. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau then asked Blair, who was then Toronto’s police chief before running for federal office, to do a comprehensive review, CP states.

Tony Bernardo of the Canadian Shooting Sports Association, which has 35,000 members, tells CP the Trudeau government is trying to capitalize on the media hysteria over mass shootings in the United States to distract people from other issues.

Goldlist, whose gun collection includes three semi-automatic rifles, agrees.

“This entire attack on legal gun owners is a pathetic attempt by an ineffective government to look like they are making communities safer,” she says.

“Unless and until they target crime by giving ‘criminals’ the education, employment opportunities, adequate housing, and mental health support they need, our communities will continue to erode,” Goldlist says.

– with files from The Canadian Press

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