Nfld. & Labrador

Corner Brook man still wants to lift restrictions on AR-15 rifle, says Orlando attack bad timing

A Corner Brook man who wants the AR-15 assault rifle made legal for hunting in Canada is not budging on his position, despite the fact that a similar gun was used in the Orlando massacre.

An AR-type rifle was used by the shooter who killed 49 people in Orlando, Fla., nightclub

Corner Brook's Marc Bennett has circulated a petition to have the AR-15 rifle legalized for hunting in Canada. (Submittted)

A Corner Brook man who wants the Canadian government to lift restrictions on the AR-15 assault rifle is not budging on his position, despite the fact that a similar gun was used in the Orlando massacre.

An online petition created by Marc Bennett had 25,000 signatures as of Tuesday from those who agree that the AR-15 should be legal for hunting. 

An AR-type rifle was used by shooter Omar Mateen during Sunday's attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando that left 49 dead, and 53 injured.

Just because it happened somewhere else doesn't mean it's going to happen here.- Marc Bennett

"His choice of weapon was unfortunately the firearm that I am trying to get de-restricted in Canada," said Bennett.

AR-15's were also used in the San Bernardino, Calif. shooting in 2015 that left 14 dead, the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting that left 20 children and six staff members dead, and the Aurora, Colo. movie theatre shooting that left 12 dead in 2012.

The AR-15, which has the appearance of a military style assault weapon, is currently legal only for target practice or use in competitions in Canada.

Bennett said his first reaction after learning of the Orlando attack was "shock and awe."

"The person that wielded this firearm in the crowd at the gay bar obviously had no respect for human life," he said.

Bad timing

The gunman who killed 49 people and injured 53 in a crowded gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., was using an AR-15 type of rifle. (Steve Nesius/Reuters)

In an interview with the Corner Brook Morning Show on Tuesday, Bennett bemoaned the bad timing of the Florida shooting.

"My initial reaction to it was 'Oh my God like, you know, they had to use that firearm' within the month that my petition was to be sent to the House of Commons for an answer from the government to see if they would allow that," he said.

He maintained on Tuesday that it's not enough to justify banning guns like the AR-15.

"You have to look at things logically and rationally and to just want to ban something because one person used [it] during the commission of a crime is absurd," he said.

"You're only going to ban it for law abiding citizens. It's not something that criminals are just going to wake up one morning and say maybe I should turn in my guns and be an outstanding criminal today."

According to a report by the New York Times, Omar Mateen legally purchased two guns just days before the Orlando attack.

The guns used in both the Sandy Hook and Aurora shootings were also purchased legally.

Bennett argued however, that Canada is not the same as the United States.

"Just because it happened somewhere else doesn't mean it's going to happen here."

Following the attack, Bennett urged Canadian gun enthusiasts to go out and buy AR-15's to put pressure on the government.

British Columbia MP Bob Zimmer brought Bennett's petition to the House of Commons in May, but no move has been made to legalize the rifle for hunting use. 

In a statement to The Huffington Post Canada on Monday, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale's office said there was no plans to change the classification of the AR-15 in Canada.