Trudeau's Gun Ban Would Have 'No Chance' Under U.S. Constitution: Expert

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's new proposed gun restrictions have raised concerns that similar measures could be pushed in the U.S., but these types of reform would be barred under the U.S. Constitution, according to one expert.

The U.S. gun control debate was again pushed to the forefront last week following the mass shooting at a Texas elementary school that left 19 children and two teachers dead. Trudeau's proposed measures, which would place a national ban on handgun sales if passed by the Canadian parliament, have drawn strong criticism from U.S. conservatives who worry that similar measures could be introduced in America.

But Joseph Blocher, a professor of law at Duke University whose research interests include constitutional law and the Second Amendment, told Newsweek that he thinks there is "no chance either politically or constitutionally" that a similar ban could gain traction in the U.S.

"This is the phantom menace," he said. "The idea of handgun prohibition is nowhere near the political agenda in the mainstream in the United States—hasn't been for decades."

Trudeau Gun Ban Concerns
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's new proposed gun restrictions have raised concerns that similar measures could be pushed in the U.S., but these types of reform would be barred under the U.S. Constitution, according to one expert. Above, Trudeau speaks at a news conference held jointly with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on May 8 in Kyiv, Ukraine. Alexey Furman/Getty Images

Blocher said that rather than calling for handgun bans, politicians and gun violence prevention advocates have been pushing for other measures like background checks and red flag laws, which would allow authorities to temporarily remove firearms from people believed to be a danger to themselves and others. He added that even if there was a push to ban handguns, "The Supreme Court has been clear that the Second Amendment protects the fundamental right to have a handgun in the home for self-defense."

"So even if handgun prohibition were politically feasible, the courts will strike it down," Blocher said. "I think the focus should be on what people were really pushing for, which are things like background checks and red flag laws, which don't come anywhere near violating the Second Amendment."

Despite pushes from Democrats, and even from some Republicans, for certain types of gun reform in the wake of the Texas shooting, the GOP has largely remained resistant to the idea. Texas Senator Ted Cruz, for example, said while addressing the annual National Rifle Association Conference last week that "technocratic solutions" would not alone stop these deadly events and pushed for improvements in school safety.

"Ultimately, as we all know, what stops armed bad guys is armed good guys," he said.

Blocher said that the "real thing" that's going on in the U.S. is a "fear of slippery slopes."

"Gun rights advocates have been very successful over the years in suggesting that to give an inch on guns is to give a mile, that if we allow background checks then the next thing will be registration," Blocher said. "And if there's nationwide registration, the next thing will be a nationwide confiscation."

"Those arguments play on fears and that makes them very hard to rebut, but it's just nowhere near the proposals that people are putting forward today, all of which operate at the margins about keeping prohibited persons from acquiring guns in the first place, having a background check system or keeping guns out of the hands of the dangerously mentally ill with red flag laws," he added.

Polls in recent years have shown that support for background checks in gun sales is generally high, with 81 percent saying they were in favor of the measure in a 2021 Pew Research Center survey, according to Politifact. Red flag laws have also gained backing by Republicans and Democrats alike.