The Canadian public is remarkably uninformed of their own situation with respect to firearms violence and existing gun controls. Sociology Professor H. Taylor Buckner of Corcordia University found that 60% of the students who signed Corcordia University's "handgun ban" petition (circulated in 1992-1993) were under the mistaken impression that handguns account for 30% to 80% of all Canadian homicides. In 1992, the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics reported that the actual figure was 17%.
When asked what the maximum penalty in Canada is for having a handgun without a police permit (presently a maximum of 5 years in prison), 99% answered that it was nothing more than a $500 fine.
Over 80% of students didn't know the difference between a rifle and a shotgun. Over 60% were unaware that a firearm's magazine does not have a trigger.
In a split sample experiment, students who signed the petition were as favourable to the current firearm control legislation, which they knew nothing about, as they were to the handgun prohibition proposed in Concordia's petition. Of students who signed the petition, which asked Parliament to completely ban the ownership of handguns except for members of the police and the armed forces, 85% were as favourable to letting other authorized persons besides the police and the army, possess handguns. In actual fact, this is the status quo in Canada and definitely not what was requested by the petition.
Three-quarters of students who signed the petition indicated that, if available, they would use a firearm to defend themselves or their family against death or serious injury by aggressor.
Fully 62.7% of students who signed the petition believe gun control laws affect only the legitimate owners and that criminals can always obtain firearms.
Professor Buckner concluded that students signed the petition simply because it was there, and that Concordia could just as easily have obtained 200,000 signatures if they had been asking Parliament to pass the existing gun control laws.
Professor Buckner also reported that the petition may have been an effort to divert attention from academic mismanagement at Concordia. Evidently, it was unsuccessful. The Rector and Assistant to the Rector, both responsible for coordinating the petition, have since been fired.