Skip to content
Subscriber Only
Francis Wilkinson

Canada’s Reasonable Vision of Gun Control

There are a lot of Canadians who appreciate guns — and the laws that regulate them.

Canadians march for gun rights in Ottawa, September 2020.

Canadians march for gun rights in Ottawa, September 2020.

Photographer: LARS HAGBERG/AFP

At the same time that President Joe Biden was unveiling his plans this month to attack epidemic gun violence with all the tangential minimalism that U.S. law and politics can muster, I was 20 miles north of the U.S.-Canadian border watching what happens when people, and a nation, treat guns as if they might be dangerous.

In a small, carpeted classroom in Delta, British Columbia, a dozen of us filed in for the first of two days of classes — 15 hours in all — required to obtain a firearm license. Canadian law recognizes three basic types of guns: non-restricted, restricted and prohibited. Firearms become more difficult to possess as the government’s assessment of their danger increases. Handguns, for example, are restricted. Despite their designations, even restricted and prohibited firearms can be legally possessed and acquired.