Guns notorious for use in Canadian mass shootings still not prohibited

OTTAWA – Just as the Bushmaster AR-15 rifle has become a grim household name in the U.S. after the Sandy Hook massacre, a pair of semi-automatic firearms evoke similar memories — and debate — in Canada.

In the 1989 massacre of 14 women at the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, Marc Lepine used a Ruger Mini-14 rifle, at the time equipped with a substantial magazine.

And in 2006, Kimveer Gill used a Beretta Cx4 Storm to shoot 72 rounds at Montreal’s Dawson College, injuring 16 and killing student Anastasia DeSousa.

Neither the Ruger Mini-14 nor the Beretta Cx4 Storm are prohibited in Canada, despite the outcry from victims and their families, the occasional political grumble, and a pointed coroner’s report in Montreal.

The Ruger Mini-14 is also not restricted, and since the death of the long-gun registry last spring does not need to be registered outside of Quebec.

On the flip side, semi-automatic rifles such as the Ruger Mini-14 are widely used by Canadian hunters and in rural areas. Semi-automatic weapons can fire off rounds in quick succession without reloading, but unlike an automatic weapon, the trigger mechanism must be re-engaged each time.

“Firearms owners would say it’s a matter of freedom. If we’re going to restrict everything that has any possibility to do us harm, then the government’s going to be pretty busy,” said Alan Voth, a firearms forensics expert and retired veteran of the RCMP.

“It’s not the gun, it’s the person. Why would we want to go around chasing our tails, trying to chase something that is not the problem?”

Semi-automatics were banned in Australia in the wake of a 1996 mass murder in Tasmania. The United Kingdom has more stringent restrictions on semi-automatics than Canada, in the wake of its own tragedies.

“Australia is a safer country as a result of what was done in 1996,” former prime minister John Howard wrote last August.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper defended Canada’s gun control system in an interview with Quebec’s TVA network broadcast Tuesday.

“First, the most important thing to remember is that Canada has a gun control system that is much more strong and strict than the Americans,” Harper said.

“We will not change the basis of this system. Actually, we have reinforced certain parts. We abandoned the long-gun registry because it was veyr costly and there we didn’t see any benefits, but we are keeping a licensing system for owners, a registration system for handguns and (restricted) firearms, and we will keep this system that works.”

But some critics say the system has not screened out what are essentially combat-style weapons.

In the case of the Ruger Mini-14, dubbed the “poor man’s assault rifle” by opponents, Lepine used 30-round magazines that are now banned in Canada. Today, the largest magazine allowed holds five rounds.

The Ruger Mini-14 was one of the weapons legally obtained and used by Anders Breivik to kill 77 in Norway last year.

Former Liberal justice minister Irwin Cotler suggested in a 2005 letter that he’d like to ban the Ruger Mini-14, but later said it was a “mistake” following opposition from Canadian gun owners.

The Canadian Association of Police Boards passed a resolution at its conference earlier this year to reclassify certain firearms, including the Mini-14, as restricted.

The Beretta CX4 Storm used in the Dawson shooting is a less powerful weapon, called a semi-automatic carbine, with a trigger that resembles one on a pistol. It is more compact than the Ruger, and the cartridge reloads behind the trigger.

Montreal coroner Jacques Ramsay said in his 2008 report on the shooting that semi-automatics such as the Storm should not be available to the public and should be prohibited outright. Gill was able to obtain one as a gun-club member.

“It’s a lighter rifle, it’s easier to manoeuvre, but it is still very precise,” Ramsay said at the time.

Former public safety minister Stockwell Day mused in the days following the Dawson College shooting about restricting firearms such as the Storm, but that did not happen. The Ottawa Citizen reported 46 new registrations for that model of gun in the month after the shooting, compared with just 16 the month before.

Heidi Rathjen, one of Canada’s foremost gun-control advocates, says she and others have not called for a ban on all semi-automatics — just some of them.

She says the federal government has not reviewed or updated its list of restricted or prohibited firearms since 1996, and many out on the market are basically assault weapons masquerading as hunting gear.

“Ban military assault weapons, ban weapons designed to kill people in combat situations for civilian use,” said Rathjen, spokesperson for Poly Se Souvient.

“They haven’t done that. In fact, they’ve gone in the opposite direction by ignoring new assault weapons coming on the market and allowing many of them to stay even unrestricted so they’re not even registered anymore outside of Quebec.”

But Voth says there really is no substantial difference between the Ruger Mini-14, and other semi-automatics that are used frequently by hunters.

Even the Bushmaster AR-15, restricted in Canada to gun club enthusiasts with tight licensing requirements, only looks more menacing than other weapons that are unrestricted, he says.

“The ability to do a lot of damage with a firearm exists even with something as archaic as the Old West double-barrelled shotgun, which is limited to two shots,” said Voth.

“It’s absolutely unbelievable how fast a skilled operator can shoot and load something like that and the number of shots they can fire in a limited amount of time. The difference between that and a semi-automatic for the purposes of mass murder is inconsequential.”

The RCMP did not respond to a series of questions about restrictions on firearms.

Harper said during the interview with TVA that he was greatly affected by what he saw on the news out of Newtown, Conn.

“It’s very sad. As a father, it’s very difficult to watch these images of children who were killed,” said Harper.

“Over the weekend, in the end, I stopped watching. It’s almost impossible to imagine how someone could do something like that to children. It’s a great tragedy, and we’re using the opportunity to remind our children of our love.”




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Guns notorious for use in Canadian mass shootings still not prohibited

  1. soun

  2. Sounds like a one sided story, McLeans should read Veterans Today, story about Isriealy death Squads.

  3. the issue is not so much the firearms as is is a case of mental health. At least in canada they do back ground checks and look into a persons mental health before they can have such weapons and even then they have to be a member of a club and have the appropriate permits for transporting too and from the range. You also need to renew your permits on a regular bases. Yes in canada some can own such firearms as the AR-15 but its not like in the USA where anyone can its a lot harder to legally possess such a weapon.

    I think the time has come to address the real issue and thats how we treat people with mental issues and to address that we medicate our children to the point they feel nothing have no empathy look into the statistics of children on anti depressants and other meds they far surpass murders by firearms. we have pushed these people under the carpet for so long and now wonder why its overflowing.

    • I agree 100%. Some think the answer is to simply pound out the words, “BAN GUNS!” on their keyboards, and then sit back in their chair thinking they’re so smart with a big grin on their face, as if no one ever thought about the idea before. Banning all guns will never happen, and banning assault style weapons will do nothing to stop further massacres. The Virginia Tech gunman used two handguns and killed more people than the recent Sandy Hook shooting.

      All the recent shootings had several things in common; the person was intelligent, had some sort of mental problem, and they planned the attacks well in advance. These were not simple acts of rage committed against a spouse or family member. The attackers had plenty of time to gather what they needed, and in some cases had what they needed already.

      The tool they used, although relevant, should not be the primary focus. How
      about we actually try to help people before they get to the point of planning such a massacre. Is medication or a combination of certain medications one of the factors? Could some people be more disposed to violence than others and therefor should not be exposed to violence portrayed in movies or video games. Do we need new treatment programs to help people with mental illness? These are some of the questions that should be asked. Putting armed guards in schools, banning assault type rifles, or more background checks will not stop a determined individual.

      There is no quick fix. The steps that need to be taken will take years or even decades, but the first step needs to be taken now.

  4. “Over the weekend, in the end, I stopped watching.” And that’s why nothing will change. We can just look away.

  5. As a licensed gun owner in this country who’s all for reasonable
    regulations of guns, I find it troubling to see how certain activists
    are playing upon the public’s general ignorance of firearms to paint our
    gun laws as inadequate, especially with regards to semi-automatics.
    Heidi Rathjen’s comments mimic those of Linda McQuaig’s recent Star
    article that featured an expose of the guns available from Wolverine
    Supplies, a popular Manitoba gun store.

    Not only have
    semi-automatics been widely available to Canadians for nearly a century,
    but with the five and ten round magazine restrictions put in place over
    fifteen years ago, none of the firearms available to licensed Canadians
    are any more deadly than any standard pump or lever action rifle or
    shotgun widely used by hunters and target shooters. It shouldn’t matter
    whether a rifle resembles a military arm or has previously been used in
    crimes at times and in places where high capacity magazines were
    previously legal or widely available. Canadian shooters own those
    firearms not out of a gun fetish or desire for additional firepower that
    they do not provide, but rather because of the accuracy, reliability,
    ease of take-down and assembly or other desirable features inherent in
    them. Aside from symbolism, some kind of prejudice against such guns
    for somehow representing militarism, or a desire to appeal to the fears of
    Canadians who are unaware of the specifics of our firearms regulations,
    such criticisms of Canadian gun laws make no sense.

    While I don’t
    doubt Rathjen’s passion about this issue, she fails to provide a
    convincing rationale for her desire to restrict or prohibit more of the
    firearms currently owned by licensed Canadians. I think that such
    rhetoric, along with the ease with which firearms can be reclassified
    through the current law is what really fed the desire to kill the
    registry, that in the hands of a strongly anti-gun government could have
    arbitrarily prohibited a large number of legally owned firearms at the
    spur of the moment through an Order in Council. Law abiding gun owners
    and the Canadian public at large need regulations based on rational
    criteria and evidence, not arbitrary restrictions or emotional rhetoric
    that clouds reasoned debate and most importantly, does nothing to enhance
    public safety.

  6. A typical semi-auto rifle for sale in Canada (but note
    small clip), wide range of calibres (click on
    SPECIFICATIONS at top right of first link below):

    Model 750™ Woodsmaster™

    Overview:
    In the field, patience is a virtue but when it’s time
    to take action, sometimes you need the speed of a
    Model 750.™ Its improved gas system provides faster,
    smoother cycling. And its balanced low-profile design
    handles like lightning. Rapid follow-ups are its
    specialty, but famed Remington one-shot accuracy comes
    standard…

    http://www.remington.com/products/firearms/centerfire/model-750/model-750-woodsmaster.aspx

    http://www.shoptoit.ca/brand-remington-products-company-llc/model-750-woodmaster-remington/11247809/

    Mark
    Ottawa

  7. I dont really get the distinction that once a gun is used for a bad thing, it no longer has any legitimate use.

    there have been plenty of school/mass shootings and attempts using .22 pistols and rifles, and ultra common hunting rifles and shotguns. No one is talking about making the Marlin Model 336 lever action 30-30′s illegal after one was used in the Pearl High School Shooting even though he killed 2 more people than Kimveer Gill did with the scary looking Beretta CX4 Storm in the Dawson College shooting here in canada.

    Its not like the shooters calmly choose the only gun that could potentially work for a shooting, and that any other they would have chosen would have resulted completely differently.

    neither of the two guns, the mini 14 or CX4 storm are anything special in terms of capability. the CX4 storm is basically just a larger, impossible to conceal 9mm handgun, not any deadlier

  8. I like how the article implies that if semi-automatics were banned then the massacres of the future would yield body counts that are somehow within tolerable limits. Firearms of any type do not a psycho make.

    • last two mass shootings in the US were biden approved shotguns

  9. A drunk driver killed a person driving an Acura. We should ban Acuras now.

  10. enough if enough ” ban the guns desinged to kill people on battlefield” , guns are designed to HUNT AND KILL !!! tell me a gun that cannot kill ! Why you Quebec politicans just say “let’s ban all the firearms” ….
    hey, you really want that? you have a good place to go : China~! oh i thought you were socialist anyways~

  11. It seems people don’t look past their nose. I do not hear an out cry for the banning of pressure cookers after the recent events at the Boston Marathon. When you total all the drownings that happen every year I have never heard anyone ranting that water should be outlawed. The same goes for deaths from automobiles. The fact is that if a human being wants to inflict harm on others he or she will conceive a way to do it. About 5000 people lost their lives in 9 11 yet no one said we should ban air travel. Nor has there been a lobby group formed to seek the banning of box cutters which were used to highjack the planes used in 9 11. All the laws in the world will not secure peoples safety as is evident by the number of deaths and suffering caused by narcotics. The only thing laws did in the case of narcotics is drive the price high enough to make it more attractive for people to break the law. Police only show up after a crime is committed so more police are not the answer. It is time for governments to leave law abiding citizens alone to enjoy their chosen past times and address the real issues such as mental health.

  12. No facts necessary, the only long gun found at Sandy Hook was a shotgun in the trunk of the shooter’s car.
    But that doesn’t follow the propaganda, does it?

  13. A bunch of liberal propaganda BS ,A free law abiding person should be able to have any guns he/she wants,Guns don’t commit crimes criminals do,and they can get what ever kind they want,with or without registration, and this witch hunt for banning the Mini 14 is wearing thin, Its no more dangerous then any other rifle or shotgun.This is the poster gun,for the beginning of trying to takes peoples guns away.First the Mini next the CZ, SKS and on and on.The RCMP would be happy if all we had was bricks.and personally, I like semi auto for target practice reloading a pain and after every 5 shots also, so instead you need more magazines.I’ve never had a desire to go on a Psycho rampage.
    My Guns don’t go out by themselves,So whats the problem.I pay more than my fair share of taxes,So other can enjoy welfare,fat gold plated pension plans etc. So why should some communist try to tell me what I can do after work on my time off,weather I want to hunt or target shoot who cares,and what color or how many rounds shouldn’t matter just so some knob can sleep at night,I thought we were supposed to be free,IMO if you want smoke,drink,eat fast food,drive whatever as long as your within the law who cares .The only government that would care about there Law abiding citizens having guns is a corrupt one.Yes there has been tragedy’s,over the years as Mcleans likes to repeatedly regurgitate the 1989 massacre by one pshyco,More people die from drunk drivers why aren’t you on crusade to bans cars.After all someone could potently get in one and kill someone.We can all ride the stupid bus.Why not ban every car that potential to go over the speed limit.

    Starting get the picture yet.doubt it. You can’t fix stupid(editor)

  14. IF GUNS KILL PEOPLE – ALL OF MY GUNS ARE DEFECTIVE.

  15. Gun laws are inadequate. They fail to make any difference. Unfortunately for the laws however, they are at the mercy of ignorant politicians who troll for votes from the ignorant masses they cater to.

    Say the gun-control folks win, and all semi-autos are banned. Someone takes a bolt action to a school and shoots a few kids… is that any more acceptable? No of course not. One dead child is too many. So we ban bolt action, now you’re only allowed to carry single-shots. A few less kids get killed. Is that still acceptable? Okay, what about banning all guns? You guys hear about those people running around with giant knives in China lately? Okay, lets ban knives over 3″ long while we’re at it. Rinse and repeat ad nauseum.

    I know we do not legally have a right to possess firearms (no second amendment like they have in the states) but as a law-abiding citizen, I have the self-derived right to own firearms. Why? Because I hunt. Because I believe that if someone breaks into my home, be they unarmed, armed with a firearm, or armed with a baseball bat, that I have the right to protect my son (and I’ll stop you right there and point out that my weapons are all locked safely away per the legal requirements). Because I’ve done nothing wrong, and I will continue to do nothing wrong. I respect my firearms for the danger they represent if misused, and as such they are never misused.

    Back to the point of this post, the idiocy of our gun laws. Ask yourself, who do they protect?

    If I were a psycho, I need only buy a .22LR (since we’re picking on Ruger, a 10/22). Then I buy 3-4 drums (110 rounds each) and bring them to a school. How many dead kids would that be? It’s all perfectly legal equipment to have.

    Look now at the laws restricting center fire rifles. The difference is the amount of hitting power… both are easily adequate to kill people, except for those people who happen to be wearing body armour. Yes, the police. A .22 will be harmless to them if it hits the armour, a .308 or .338 will kill them.

    The laws reduce a psycho’s ability to kill police, not to reduce their lethality in a mass shooting. The laws were never meant to protect you.

    So, we come full circle to the call to ban all guns (since that is the only way you can stop a shooting), which as I and many others have said solves nothing, as there is always another weapon available, even if it’s “just” a knife.

    And lastly, suppose the politicians do try to ban all guns. How much compliance are you expecting? By law firearms are to be kept out of sight (unless being displayed, wherein they have criteria for that), and since they aren’t registered, they would have to come to my home and search it. Then they could take the gun safe, with a few guns in it, while the majority of them remain safely in my care. I will not surrender my firearms because some ignorant politician or some grieving and misguided parent believes I am dangerous when I can assert that I am not.

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