Four-in-five Canadians support complete ban on civilian possession of assault style weapons


Fewer, but still two-in-three, also say they support a ban on handguns

Angus Reid Institute – With the Trudeau government poised to ban some “assault style” weapons, it finds significant support for a change first promised by the Liberals in 2015.

The results of the latest public opinion survey from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute show an overwhelming majority – nearly four-in-five – support a complete prohibition on civilian possession of the types of weapons used in the Montreal Massacre in 1989, and most recently, the rampage of an assault weapon-carrying murderer who killed 22 people in Nova Scotia last month.

Significantly, two-thirds (65%) strongly support such a move, giving federal policy makers a clear mandate to go forward.

Endorsement for the change transcends political and regional divides, although a slight majority of Canada’s current gun owners oppose it (55%).

More Key Findings:

  • While Canadians express majority support for banning both assault weapons and handguns, a significant minority – one-in-three – say they oppose a handgun ban (compared to 22 per cent that oppose an assault weapons ban).
  • Despite high support for these firearm bans among Canadians; the federal government would still likely face substantial pushback on implementing any new gun control legislation. Nearly half say current gun control laws in Canada are either too strict (13%) or about right (34%).
  • 57 per cent of Canadians say they have confidence in the RCMP. This is down slightly from 62 per cent in 2018. Notably, confidence in the RCMP is highest in Nova Scotia at 72 per cent.
Widespread support for banning assault weapons, handguns

As Nova Scotians and Canadians across the country continue to mourn the loss of 22 people, killed in a mass shooting in April, the Liberal government appears set to move on a long-promised ban on assault weapons in Canada.

Importantly, the classification of an “assault weapon” is not currently a term with legal definition in Canada. In its recent research, however, the federal government describes this type of weapon as “semi-automatic firearms with a large magazine of ammunition that were designed and configured for rapid fire.” These include the AR-15 that was used in the Nova Scotia shooting, the Ruger Mini-14, used in the Ecole Polytechnique massacre in Montreal in 1989, and the CSA-VZ-58, which was carried by the gunman in the Quebec Mosque shooting in 2017.

These weapons and others are expected to be banned by the Liberal government through an order-in-council. The ban is something the vast majority of Canadians have been supportive of in recent years. Nearly four-in-five Canadians canvassed between April 28 – 30 say they support a complete ban on civilian possession of such weapons. While opinions may have hardened slightly after the tragedy in Nova Scotia, it is worth noting that support for such a ban was already at this level last year when the Angus Reid Institute studied the issue.

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