5. The Politics of Panic - A History of Canadian Firearms Control


The enactment of Bill C-51 created loopholes in Canada's firearm control laws which virtually assured that additional firearm controls would be proposed; however, sensationalized media reports with respect to mass killings in the United States involving "assault" firearms provided additional stimulus.

In January, 1989, Patrick Purdy, a convicted felon, shot five children to death in a school yard in Stockton, California. He was armed with a Chinese made AKS rifle which, while very similar in appearance to the Soviet AK-47 millitary assault rifle, is semiautomatic only (Kopel, 1990, p.390).

On December 6, 1989, Mark Lepine, armed with a Ruger Mini-14 semiautomatic rifle, shot fourteen women to death at the University of Montreal 29 . Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney promised to "tighten up" Canada's gun laws once again (Fife, 1993, p.124).

The "assault weapon" panic began in earnest.