The viral headlines and social media posts in early May were certainly scary if you’re a waterfowler, an upland bird hunter, or just a rural dwelling landowner or farmer living in Canada.
Those headlines were equally concerning if you’re an American waterfowler who likes to travel north of the U.S./Canada border to chase the clouds of migratory ducks and geese that stage by the millions each fall on Canadian marshes, lakes, potholes and agricultural fields.
All of that concern has stemmed from recent headlines that told of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s response to the mass shooting in Nova Scotia last month where a gunman posing as a police officer killed 22 people in a series of gunfire attacks and deliberately set fires.
In response to the horrific crime, which came in the middle of Canada’s lockdown for the COVID-19 pandemic, the country’s government in Ottawa, Ontario announced several days ago that it was banning more than 1,500 so-called “military grade assault weapons.”
Almost immediately, some groups wondered if waterfowl hunters might be swept up into the proposal’s brewing controversy as reports began to surface that many common 12-gauge and 10-gauge shotguns would be included by the ban’s language.
A legal opinion issued for the Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association (CSAAA) by Ontario attorney Edward Burlew indicated that because of potential regulation numbers associated with bore diameter, shotguns that were fitted with external choke tubes—and that’s most modern scatterguns—could become illegal under Trudeau’s proposed ban.
While viral news headlines and social media posts raised alarm, some wondered if the opinion was correct, if the Canadian government was really targeting hunting shotguns, and if Ottawa would eventually address the firestorm of controversy.
That happened earlier this week on May 6, 2020 when Canada’s Public Safety Minister Bill Blair sought to clarify the rules on shotguns in a Twitter statement that read: “10 and 12 gauge shotguns were not prohibited on May 1st. Canadians deserve accurate information.”
His @BillBlair Twitter account included a photographic attachment of the clarification. It read: "The regulation introduced on May 1st does not prohibit 10 and 12 gauge shotguns. The regulation for 10 and 12 gauge is based on their standard size both under 20 mm.
"In accordance with acceptable firearms industry standards, the definition for bore diameter explicitly states that is after the chamber, but before the choke in shotguns. Therefore, if the measurement is taken at any other location, it is not a factor that is being considered under amendment 95 of the Regulations."
While other forms of hunting guns are still imperiled by the proposal north of the border, for now, it would appear that shotgun hunters who love to chase ducks and geese in the fabulous wild country of Canada can rest easy.
Do understand that this is likely a story that could still be subject to change since Trudeau’s government is under fire from various sides, facing legal challenges, and even seeing an anti-ban petition created that gathered more than 100,000 reported signatures in its first 24-hours.
If and when additional news develops regarding this Canadian gun ban proposal and any of its potential effects on waterfowl hunters on both sides of the border, you can rest assured we’ll will keep you informed.