CTF slams expensive gun buyback bill, ‘doesn’t make Canadians safer’

Above feature photo from the PBO report titled; ‘Cost estimate of the firearm buy-back program.’

By: Broderick Visser
Written on 2021-06-29

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) is calling on the federal government to cancel the gun buyback in response to a Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) report that estimated the cost of compensating gun owners could reach $756 million.

“Today we learned the gun buyback could cost hundreds of millions more than Canadians have been told and the government still doesn’t know the full costs,” said Franco Terrazzano, Federal Director for the CTF.

“This a huge sum of money and the people on the front line say the buyback won’t make Canadians safer.”

Franco Terrazzano, Federal Director for the CTF.

The PBO estimates reimbursing gun owners could cost taxpayers up to $756 million. The PBO did not provide an estimate for staffing and administration costs “given the current lack of details regarding program design and administration.”

The PBO looked at other jurisdictions that have implemented a firearms buy-back program to understand what core components have to be considered when developing a cost estimate.

They particularly reviewed New Zealand’s firearms buy-back program that was implemented in 2019.

That first buy-back program ran from June 2019 to December 2019 and used a three-tier model, which compensated owners based on the condition of the firearm:

  • 95% of base price for new or near new condition;
  • 70% of base price for used condition; and,
  • 25% of base price for poor condition.

As of February 2020, New Zealand’s government estimated the cost to compensate gun owners who be around $120 million — with a total of 61,332 guns handed in or amended. Program administration costs expected to increase by $35 million.

“Industry estimates of the number of eligible firearms under the buy-back program total close to 518,000. As shown in Table 3-2, which outlines the cost estimates using CSAAA data, buy-back compensation ranges from an estimated $158 million to $756 million, based on variations in take-up rate and pricing structure,” reads the PBO’s Cost estimate of the firearm buy-back program.

Screenshot from the PBO’s Cost estimate of the firearm
buy-back program.

On May 1, 2020, an Order in Council (OIC) was issued by the federal government which  prohibited  certain  firearms  and  devices, specifically;

  • nine types of firearms, by make and model, and their variants
  • firearms with a bore of  20mm or greater, and those firearms capable of discharging a projectile with a muzzle energy greater than 10,000 joules; and,
  • the upper receivers of  M16, AR-10, AR-15 and M4 pattern firearms.

The government implemented an amnesty period of two-years (April 30, 2020 – April 30, 2022).

This ensures that firearms owners, who were in legal possession of these firearms at the time they became prohibited, are not criminally liable and provides them with enough time to become compliant with the new law.

The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness indicated in an information request that work was underway with IBM Canada — on a $1.2 million contract — to get advice on options and approaches for firearms pricing and compensation models, as well as program design options.

The federal government estimates that approximately 150,000 firearms in Canada would be eligible under the buy-back program.

The estimate ranges from $47 million to $188 million depending on take-up rate and pricing structure.

  • Under a three-tier pricing structure — a take-up rate of 50 per cent would cost an estimated $94 million.
  • Under a market value pricing structure — a take-up rate of 50 per cent would cost an estimated $113 million.

There is an estimated 518,000 of eligible firearms under the buy-back program. Buy-back compensation ranges from $158 million to $756 million.

Under the three-tier model, with a take-up rate of 50 per cent — the estimated cost is $316 million. (Ranges from $158 million to $632 million).

The same rate under the market value pricing structure would cost an estimated $378 million. (Ranges from $189 million to $756 million).

“The people on the front lines say they don’t need an ineffective and expensive gun buyback program and taxpayers can’t afford another costly scheme that won’t make our lives better. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau needs to reverse course and scrap the ineffective and expensive gun buyback.”

Franco Terrazzano, Federal Director for the CTF.

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