Earlier this week Guns & Ammo reported that Canada, under the leadership of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, banned hundreds of models of firearms and categorized them under the label “assault weapons.” The list of banned firearms includes many semiautomatic rifles and .50-caliber rifles or other firearms with bore diameters exceeding 20mm. Upon further examination of the published regulations, it has been discovered that the latter prohibition could effectively ban many, if not most, shotguns used for sport shooting and hunting.
According to a legal opinion drafted by Ontario attorney Edward Burlew on behalf of the Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association (CSAAA), the ban extends to many common 12- and 10-gauge shotguns. A 12-gauge shotgun has a nominal bore diameter of 18.51mm, making it exempt from the rule, but there is a catch. According to CSAAA’s written legal opinion, “The definition of a barrel is the tube thorough [sic] which a projectile travels. The bore of a firearm barrel is the largest internal diameter of the barrel tube through which a projectile travels.”
The opinion cites a forensic standard for measuring a shotgun barrel in Canada, and this standard calls for removing any choke tubes before the barrel is measured.
“In the examination of 12-gauge shotgun barrels with screw in choke tubes, the chokes are removed and the bore at the muzzle typically equals or exceeds 20mm.”
If Mr. Burlew is correct, Canadian shotgun owners have a serious problem. Whether this was a back-door effort at banning a swath of firearms or a simple technical error that did not consider the consequences, is unknown. Since the rules were published only days after the tragic mass shooting that provided the political cover for the ban, the words may have been drafted in-haste. In a press release, CSAAA said that “Minister Blair is either too inept to comprehend the scope of his regulations…or he lied to the Government and Canadians.”
There’s more: In order to ban .50-caliber and similar rifles, the recent ban imposes a restriction on firearms that produce muzzle energies in-excess of 10,000 joules. Muzzle energy is established by a formula that combines bullet mass and muzzle velocity. According to our calculations, a number of big-game hunting cartridges including the .460 Weatherby Magnum and .600 Nitro Express exceed the 10,000-joule threshold and are therefore prohibited. These hunting guns are hardly the “assault weapons” that Trudeau has demonized.
Will the Canadian government move to fix these rules, or will Canadian hunters, gun owners and outfitters become criminals and lose their livelihood due to a technicality?