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Report: Buyback Program Rejected by Rising Number of Firearm Owners

A growing number of firearms owners say they would not voluntarily participate in the federal government’s Firearms Buyback Program, according to an internal report from the Department of Public Safety.

“Less than half of those owners with prohibited firearms would now willingly participate in a buyback program—a sharp decline over the past year. Another third would participate, but only because it was mandatory; one in ten would refuse to participate at all,” said the May 2023 report, “Buyback Program Awareness Campaign,” which was first reported by Blacklock’s Reporter.

In 2020, the Liberal government issued a ban on more than 1,500 models of previously legally purchased firearms it termed “assault-style” weapons and said it would compensate gun owners under a federal buyback program. The buyback, originally scheduled for spring 2023, was delayed.

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The report said firearms owners’ ratings of the federal government’s performance on addressing gun-related violence have dropped “significantly” over the past year.

When asked, “How would you rate the performance of the Government of Canada when it comes to introducing measures to address gun-related violence?” 26 percent of respondents called it “poor,” 24 percent rated it “fair,” while just 15 percent called it “excellent.”

The report’s findings were based on questionnaires with 2,000 gun owners across Canada and eight federal focus groups with hunters and sports shooters. The department paid $158,856 for the report by Environics Research.

‘Ultimately Ineffective’

The report also found most firearms owners in the focus group felt negatively about the ban on firearms and were skeptical about the buyback program.

“Despite this general negativity, most indicated that they would comply with the ban if it affected them, because they would not want to risk their ability to legally own and use other firearms,” the report said.

While most of the firearms owners polled did not own any guns affected by the ban, many had “sympathy” for the impacted owners and felt it was “unfair” to target them.

“Often, the ban and the buyback program were seen as wasteful because the policy isn’t aimed at stopping illegal gun smuggling and sales,” the report said.

The majority of gun owners said their firearms were not prohibited, but some feared “bans would expand over time” and eventually impact their firearms outside of the ban. Many were concerned the amounts offered for the buyback program would not fairly compensate owners.

“Most firearms owners did not see themselves or their peers as a major factor in gun crimes in Canada—this perception was tied to a common assessment that the program would be ultimately ineffective at reducing gun crime,” said the report.

Then-public safety minister Marco Mendicino told reporters on April 26 that the buyback program would proceed despite missed deadlines.

“We’re dedicated to moving forward with this program as quickly as we can, but we also have to make sure we get the buyback program right. It’s a program without precedent. It’s national in scale,” Mr. Mendicino said.

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