The primary differences is that gun laws in the United States is determined on a state by state basis and in Canada such restrictions are broader and nationwide.
There has also been a great deal of resources associated with the introducation of the firearm registration. Initially it was believed that such legislation would cost "taxpayers $CDN 85 million (or U.S.$55 million). By early 2001, the known costs have passed ten times that. Unfortunately, no solid evidence can be found linking Canadian gun laws to a decline in either crime rates or suicide rates (Dandurand 1998; Mauser)."
The research also suggest that Canadians have mixed feelings concerning the firearms act. According to Mauser & Buckner (1997) "Attitudes towards Bill C-68's registration system are very complex. Although most Canadians support the program, this support is very soft and falls drastically once the potential costs are mentioned. In sum, gun control sounds nice, but Canadians don't want to pay for it (Mauser & Buckner,1997)."
The author further explains that most of the people who support the bill regardless of the cost associated with it are those that do not believe in hunting or the right of others to own guns (Mauser & Buckner,1997). In addition the majority of gun owners and those who believe in hunting like the idea of registration are not happy about the cost associated with the bill (Mauser & Buckner,1997). However, the authors point out that when the poll was taken an estimated 30% of Canadians that own guns reported they would not abide by the registration program (Mauser & Buckner,1997) .
In addition the research asserts that even though Canada has strict gun laws homicides and suicides that utilize guns are still prevalent. According to the Canadian Centre for Justice statistics the rates of homicide as a result of shootings has decreased since 1975, but it is still significant. In 1975 the percentage was around 43%. In 2005 the percentage was around 35%. This is a full ten years after the firearms act was passed. So then the research seems to suggest that even thought there is a decrease it is not very substantial and it has begun to increase over the last few years. The centre also reports
"Prior to 1990, rifles/shotguns and sawed-off rifle/shotguns were used far more frequently than handguns but, beginning in the early 1990s, the proportions began to reverse. In 2005, handguns accounted for 58% of all firearm-related homicides whereas rifles/shotguns and sawed-off rifle/shotguns accounted for 30% (Table 7). The remaining 12% were committed with a fully automatic firearm, a firearm-like weapon, or a firearm of unknown type (Canadian Centre for Justice statistics)."
Indeed gun control is still a serious issue in Canada. The law established in 1995 seems to have reduced the use of certain types of firearms. However it increased the use of other types of firearms. As such the impact of the act is difficult to measure.
Overall the primary issue raised by the case was the amount of power that the parliament possessed as it pertained to developing laws related to gun control. In this particular case it was established that the purpose of the law was the protection of the public. Because the purpose of the law was determined to be that of public safety the court upheld the decision of the lower court. However it is difficult to determine whether or not the presence of the law has actually reduced crime. In addition it is difficult to measure the costs associated with the act.
Interpretation of the judicial ruling on the case
In this particular case the court ruled that Parliament did have the power to establish such a law. Te court found that the Parliament was acting within its authority in the development and establishment of such an act. Furthermore the court asserted that the purpose of the act was to protect the safety of the public.
The findings in this case also establish the powers of parliament in accordance with Canada's constitution. This case was important in establishing the authority of the Parliament in the development of other bills related to gun control. Without this court decision the establishment of additional laws would have been impossible.
Overall this particular case assured that Canada would have stricter gun laws. The primary purpose of these stricter laws was to prevent and reduce certain gun related crimes from occurring. However the research suggests that there is no real way of knowing just what the impact of the law has been because statistics have not been kept in a manner that would assist in determining the impact of the bill.
It also appears that some of the issues that the attorney general of Alberta brought up during the case have proven to be accurate. That is people who are criminals would not register their guns and law abiding gun owners would be caught up in bureaucratic red tape.
The purpose of this discussion was to explore that issue of firearms in the context of the constitution and Canadian Courts. In particular the research examined the Attorney General for Alberta v. The Attorney General of Canada. This particular case was chosen because it brings into question the firearm rights in concordance with the Constitution Act of 1867 and the Firearms Act of 1995.
The research found that this case evolved from the Attorney general of Alberta who challenged the authority of the Parliament in the establishment of a gun control bill. In this case Alberta believed that the parliament did not have the constitutional right to create this act. The court found that parliament was acting within its constitutional boundaries in establishing the act. The courts were able to determine this by examining the actual intention and premise behind the law. That is, the court examined how the law would affect Canadian citizens. The high court found that the purpose of the bill was to provide increased public safety.
The courts decision shaped the gun laws that were to follow. In addition the decision was responsible for establishing the authority of the parliament as it pertains to laws involving public safety. The court established that one of the purposes of parliament is to ensure public safety. Establishing the firearms act was one of the mechanisms that the Parliament decided needed to be implemented to ensure public safety. The Attorney General for Alberta v. The Attorney General of Canada was a definitive case that assisted in establishing the gun laws that currently exist in the country and the authority of Parliament as it pertains to the establishment of gun laws.
Attorney General for Alberta v. The Attorney General of Canada. http://scc.lexum.umontreal.ca/en/2000/2000scc31/2000scc31.pdf
Canadian Centre for Justice statistics. http://dsp-psd.pwgsc.gc.ca/Collection-R/Statcan/85-002-XIE/85-002-XIE2006006.pdf
Mauser, G.A (2005) Gun Control in Canada. http://www.sfu.ca/~mauser/papers/encyclopedia/CanadianGunControl.pdf
G.A. Mauser, Ph.D., Buckner, H. Taylor Ph.D. (1997)
Canadian Attitudes Toward Gun Control: The Real Story. A Mackenzie Institute Occasional Paper. http://www.ssaa.org.au/research/1997/1997-01_canadian-attitudes-toward-gun-control-real-story.pdf
Vernick, Jon S. James G. Hodge, Jr.and Daniel W. Webster. (2007)
The Ethics of Restrictive Licensing for Handguns: Comparing the United States and Canadian Approaches to Handgun Regulation
The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, Volume 35, Issue 4 (p 668-678)