Comparing Canada's gun laws in wake of horrific Las Vegas shooting
The shooting rampage committed in Las Vegas over the weekend has reignited the gun control debate in the U.S., and left some Canadians pondering our own firearm laws.
One issue that's drawn significant attention is the availability of so-called "bump stocks," a device the killer used to rapidly fire semi-automatic rifles into the unsuspecting music festival crowd, murdering 58 people and injuring around 500 others.
Bump stocks, which use a gun's recoil to push the trigger into the shooter's finger, effectively turning semi-automatics into automatics, are legal and available for purchase in Nevada and other states. Not so in Canada.
"It's a completely and totally prohibited device," said Joe Camele, owner of Italian Sporting Goods in Vancouver.
Most people know gun laws are much stricter north of the border, but semi-automatic rifles can be purchased in Canada under the right conditions. The kind of semi-automatics used in Vegas fall under the restricted category, meaning buyers must hold a proper licence, an authorization to transport, and be a member of a recognized gun club.
Even obtaining the licence is a time-consuming process, Camele said.
"You have to pass what they call a Canadian firearms safety course. Once you've passed that, you send an application to the federal government. They'll do their background checks and once they feel confident – there is a minimum 28-day waiting period – they will issue you a licence," he said.
Restricted firearms must also have a trigger lock and be transported in a lockable hard-shell case, Camele added.
The shop owner, who has been selling guns for nearly half a century, told CTV News he believes our laws strike the right balance between protecting the public and making guns available to hunters and target shooters.
"I think the laws work fantastic. They do," Camele said.
By comparison, people in some parts of the U.S. have been able to purchase semi-automatics in mere minutes after undergoing an on-the-spot background check. There is also the country's infamous "gun show loophole," which allows people to buy firearms from unlicensed sellers without a background check in some states.
Despite its commonly used moniker, the exception applies outside of gun shows as well.
While Canada isn't associated with gun culture the way the U.S. is, there are a fair number of gun owners up north. As of 2004, there were firearms in 15.5 per cent of Canadian homes, compared to 34.7 in the U.S.
Camele said he encounters people from all walks of life in his store.
"It's a bit of a shocking surprise, because a lot of people have this image of an urban gun owner. But we have everything from dentists to lawyers to doctors to accountants," he said.
With files from CTV Vancouver's Shannon Paterson
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly suggested all semi-automatics fall under the restricted category of firearms in Canada.