Laura Myers shops at Bass Pro Shops.
Laura Myers shops at Bass Pro Shops. (Photo by John Bennett)

What firearms are reasonable for hunting is the focus of a report released today by the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH).

The 68-page document, titled What Firearms are Reasonable and Proportionate for Hunting in Canada: An examination of previously non-restricted firearms prohibited under SOR/2020-96, was authored by OFAH Director of Programs and Policy Matt DeMille.

The report examines the relationship between hunting and firearms and analyzes firearms prohibited by order in council (OIC) on May 1, 2020. Canadian firearms owners identified these firearms as being used for hunting, prior to being prohibited, the OFAH stated in a release.

Of the 64 firearms examined that were previously non-restricted, almost all of them were used for hunting by Canadians. The report concludes that there is nothing that separates these now-prohibited firearms from other non-restricted firearms available for hunting in Canada.

Firearms owners sought expert opinion

DeMille wrote the report after applicants seeking legal action against the federal government related to these OIC prohibitions approached the OFAH for expert opinion.

The report was included as an exhibit in three separate affidavits sworn by DeMille and filed with the courts earlier this month.

“This presented a great opportunity to help inform the court’s understanding of the hunting use of firearms in Canada,” DeMille stated. “The report is intended to help answer questions related to defining what a ‘hunting firearm’ is and how firearms are used for hunting to ultimately conclude that there are dozens of OIC-prohibited firearms examined that are reasonable and proportionate for hunting in Canada.”

Report will inform public discourse

While the main goal of the report is to inform the court, the OFAH believes there is broader value and appeal with it, which is why it’s being made public.

Most people won’t access court records, so it’s important to share it broadly so it can help better inform public discourse, DeMille said.

“Firearms are contentious and conjure up a huge variety of opinions, even within the hunting community,” he told OOD. “We don’t all share the same experience with or understanding of different types of firearms, so while it’s not only important to ensure the courts are well informed on the relationship between hunting and firearms, we also feel the OFAH needs to lead an evidence-based dialogue within our own community and the broader public.

Not everyone will listen, but it is the only approach that will cut through the polarization, break down the misconceptions, and hopefully reach those people who carry an open mind.”

OFAH aims to inform

The OFAH, with a long history of evidence-based, objective, and non-partisan involvement on firearms policy, aims to continue its key role in informing the development and maintenance of sound firearms legislation, regulations, and policy.

“We are well positioned to offer independent and evidence-based technical insight into a topic that is not well defined or understood,” OFAH Executive Director, gun enthusiast, and former firearms instructor Angelo Lombardo stated. “Matt’s research and analysis experience, as well as his personal and professional knowledge and experience with firearms, made him an ideal candidate to take this initiative on.

Whether we admit it or not, hunters and non-hunters alike, we all have biases about what makes something a hunting firearm. This report brings everything together and it really put things into perspective for me.”

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