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


Only nine months later, on 10 June, 1920, Charles Doherty, Minister of Justice, reported to Parliament:

"Reports coming from the police, and coming also to some extent from information reaching the military authorities, indicated that in certain localities at different periods there was what looked like an extraordinary movement in the acquisition of firearms. It was thought desirable that we should have a control over them, and therefore we have the system established which existed previously in the case of a certain class of firearms, and which existed previously as regards aliens."

(Hansard, 1920, p.3410-3411)

Charles Power (Lib, PQ: Quebec South): "Do I understand that a British subject who is now the possessor of a shotgun may still keep it without obtaining a permit?"

(Hansard, 1919, p. 3411)

Doherty: "Yes."

Power: "What about the child who owns an air rifle at the present moment, what becomes of him?"

(Hansard, 1920, p.3411)

Doherty: "I do not know whether you could describe-"

(Hansard, 1920, p.3411)

Power: "Are you afraid of his Bolshevist activities?"

(Hansard, 1920, p.3411)

"...because the honorable minister and the Government for some reason for other have got in into their heads that Bolshevism or some other "ism" is rampant in this country they are going to force such men to run around for a permit. The most reasonable and law abiding citizens will not think of such a thing."

(Hansard, 1920, p.3412)

Despite Charles Power's objections, Parliament passed the legislation on 29 June, 1920. 23 . Any person who had

"... in his possession any cannon, machine gun, rifle, gun, revolver, pistol, bomb, or other firearm, or any air gun or any device or contrivance for muffling or stopping the sound or report of any firearm, without having a permit therefor, which permit may be issued in the same manner, by the same persons, and as near as may be in the same form, as in the case of the other permits reffered to in this section: provided that no British subject shall be required to obtain a permit with respect to any shotgun now owned by him..."

(Hansard, 1921, p.2373)

Similar to the 1919 amendments, these permits were valid only within the jurisdiction in which they had been issued (Hansard, 1921, p.3906-3907).