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Browning Hi-Power MkI (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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Here’s the thing: sometimes government procurement is hard. Governments sometimes need stuff that no one else needs, and there’s no real opportunity to develop expertise in procuring supplies that only need replacing once every generation or two. This isn’t to excuse ineptitude, but sometimes, when the government screws something like this up, you can sort of understand why. Some of this stuff just can’t be bought off the shelf.

But pistols can! A properly licensed Canadian can walk into a store, point at one on a literal shelf and say, “That one, please.” After a few days of paperwork, that person can pick it up and take it home. Pistols exist, in quantity, and there’s plenty of manufacturing capacity for them, from experienced producers with decades of experience.

There is nothing about the pistols or the gun manufacturers that’s causing a problem here, no technological breakthroughs that are required or production bugs to iron out. This is entirely on us — we can’t procure pistols for the military because our government is incompetent.

The pistol procurement process isn’t the only evidence of this, nor is it arguably the worst example, in terms of cost to the public. But it’s an excellent one — Canada is really good at taking something that ought to be easy to procure and turning it into an 11-year (and counting) odyssey of incompetence.

It would be funny, in a way, but for one problem: Canadian military personnel are going into dangerous situations carrying weapons that don’t work and could literally have been carried by their grandfathers during the fight against Hitler. Indeed, there are soldiers in the Canadian military today who hadn’t even hit puberty when we started trying to replace the pistols they’re carrying. So yeah, we could laugh. Yet crying somehow feels more appropriate.

— Matt Gurney in Canada’s bid to replace WWII-era pistols a case study in government incompetence

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