The term assault weapon comes up frequently in media reports on guns in society. The term has its origins in the 1980s and is credited to Josh Sugarmann executive director and founder of the Violence Policy Center (VPC) and noted prohibitionist. Prior to founding the Violence Policy Center in 1988, Sugarmann served as communications director for the National Coalition to Ban Handguns (renamed the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV) in 1989). The term assault weapon entered common parlance after Sugarmann authored a publication entitled Assault Weapons and Accessories in America in 1988. Sugarmann and the Violence Policy Center are among those advocates of prohibition who frame the argument that prohibition is a matter of public health and safety, that this trumps the individual right to own and use guns. In their effort to advance this agenda, prohibitionists resort to the underhanded tactic of framing the debate in a manner that confuses the issue, causing people to quarrel over what is they view as good guns vs bad guns. Continue reading
I try to tune out the white noise that is generated by assorted gun prohibitionists as I learned there is nothing to gain in engaging in futile quarrels with them. Certainly, it bothers me when they spout their nonsensical assertions and point their fingers at hunters, sport shooters and collectors, spewing vitriol and denouncing them as the enemies of humankind. I always knew there were people who disapproved of gun ownership and hunting, but thought of it as their problem. If you do not like guns, do not keep them and if you disapprove of hunting, do not go hunting and if you are a landowner, you are free to post your property against hunting. If only it were that simple. In reality, however, Canada’s gun owners find themselves in a very precarious position. Beginning with the passage of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1968-69 (S.C. 1968-69, c. 38) in 1969, continuing with amendments to the Criminal Code of Canada, Bill C-51 in 1978, Bill C-17 in 1991 and Bill C-68 in 1995, Canada’s gun owners are now saddled with the Canadian Firearms Act. In the span of 26 years, Canada’s gun owners have seen their freedoms to own and use their property for lawful and safe past-times such as hunting and sport shooting, drastically curtailed and the character of the gun owner defamed brazenly by an array of public and non-governmental associations. Continue reading
There have been a number of school shootings in the past several years. Of the various school shootings the only one where I can recall where I was and what I was doing when the news broke was the one that took place at Columbine High School in Colorado on April 20, 1999. I was working for Canadiana in its offices at the National Library National Archives of Canada at the time. I was searching for books in the library stacks and another employee had a radio on. News that there was a shooting at a high school had been relayed and the radio announcer was assuring listeners that the school shooting was not in Ottawa. Twelve students and one teacher were killed in the rampage, with twenty-four students injured before the gunmen, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, committed suicide. Since then there have been a number of shootings in schools, Virginia Tech, April 16, 2007 and Sandy Hook Elementary School, on December 12, 2012, for example, in which children and young people were murdered, in each case by a mentally ill individuals in unlawful possession (with the exception of Seung-Hui Cho who lawfully acquired his firearms) of the guns used in the shootings. These tragedies are exploited shamelessly by gun prohibitionists who insist that it is guns that are the problem and thereby it is gun owners who are guilty by association. The typical refrain is something along the lines of “if not for those selfish gun nuts who refuse to give up their deadly toys, those children would still be alive.”
The Canadian Firearms Program, a component of the Canadian Firearms Act, a stupid law, drafted by the Liberal government led by Prime Minister Jean Chretien and enacted in 1995, burdens peaceful and law-abiding hunters, sport shooters and gun collectors with oppressive regulations. Moreover, it enables belligerent and defiant bureaucrats in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to arbitrarily order the prohibition and confiscation of legally acquired and owned firearms. The decision to proceed with this policy was rooted in the moral panic that arose following the mass murder of fourteen women at an engineering school in Montreal in 1989. Moral panic is defined as “an intense feeling expressed in a population about an issue that appears to threaten the social order.” (Jones, M, and E. Jones as cited in Wikipedia) Following this tragedy, Canadian gun owners were singled out as a menace to the social order. This was not the first time in Canadian history that a federal government responded to a moral panic in pushing forward with stupid legislation, against the counsel of advisors from within its ranks. A stupid law that resulted in the oppressive regulation and confiscation of property from a segment of the population in Canadian society who were unjustly deemed to threaten the social order. Continue reading
I bought my first gun in a private sale, back in 1977 when I was sixteen. As it happens, 1977 was a turning point in the regulatory framework for gun owners in Canada; it was the last of the good old days for gun owners in Canada. The familiar classification system for firearms was in effect (non restricted, restricted and prohibited). This was enacted in 1969 with the passage of Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1968-69 (S.C. 1968-69, c. 38), which, coincidentally, also decriminalized homosexuality. In 1977 it was unlawful to sell guns to individuals of unsound mind or those under prohibition orders, otherwise Canadians were free to own and use guns for hunting, sport shooting and collecting without having the state on their back. As the Minister Justice, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, observed in shepherding the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1968-69 through parliament, “obviously, the state’s responsibility should be to legislate rules for a well-ordered society. It has no right or duty to creep into the bedrooms of the nation.” (as cited in Wikipedia) In 1977, just as the state had no business in bedrooms of the nation, neither did the state have any business in the basements and gun cabinets of the nation.
As a gun owner and hunter, I am familiar with the range of attitudes toward my hobby. I have a modest collection of sporting guns, shotguns and rifles designed for use in hunting. As I am left-handed I prefer break action shotguns and bolt-action rifles. I have two pump action shotguns in my collection and no semi-automatic firearms. I have no pistols in my collection either as these are not lawful for use in hunting in Canada. I spend time on the skeet range throughout the year to practice mounting and swinging my shotgun and go to the rifle range to make certain my deer rifle is sighted in before taking to the field. I am not really a gun enthusiast. I know enough about the guns in my collection to give them basic maintenance to see they work as they should. For more detailed maintenance I rely on my hunting buddy Jason or a professional gun smith. Continue reading