I have a lifelong passion for hunting and shooting. From my early childhood I remember my father and my uncle John going hunting in the Fall seasons. My dad really enjoyed hunting cottontail rabbits and European hares, commonly called Jack rabbits, outside Kingston in the mid-1960s. I yearned for the day when I would be old enough to join them. As I grew older and entered my formative years, I remember poring over the hunting magazines, such as Outdoor Life, Sports Afield, Field and Stream, my father amassed over the years. I combed these magazines for articles on upland bird hunting and waterfowling, mostly. I was eager to learn all I could about these pastimes so I could apply this knowledge when I came of age. I got my first hunting license at 15 and never looked back. When I entered my 20s I took up collecting books on guns, hunting, gun dog training and wildlife conservation. Currently, I have a growing collection of books that detail the North American hunting and shooting culture of the 19th and 20th centuries that guided me in my development as a hunter. I take great pride in my heritage as a gun owner and hunter. I keep these books, hoping they will help preserve a record of my gun and hunting heritage for posterity. In fact, I often point to this heritage in standing up for the rights of gun owners and hunters when gun ownership and hunting come under attack from critics who denounce these activities as archaic, old fashioned and out of step with the times.
The killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe by an American trophy hunter has fanned the flames of the controversy surrounding sport hunting. A familiar claim made by people opposed to sport hunting is that sport hunters “like killing things,” that is to say they enjoy killing for the sake of killing. This claim typically leaves me at a loss for words as it is so egregiously wrong. Yes, I enjoy hunting, but no, as hard as it is for you to believe, I do not like killing things. While most of my hunting expeditions are in pursuit of game birds I enjoy big game hunting too. To date my big game hunting experience is in the pursuit of the whitetail deer. My introduction to the sport of whitetail deer hunting was by Jason, one of my hunting buddies and a seasoned deer hunter, in 2011. It was not until my second season in November 2012 that I shot my first whitetail deer. It was a happy and exciting moment for me; the successful conclusion of the hunt with a whitetail deer harvested and secure in the knowledge it was a fair chase as the deer we hunt are wild, not the least bit habituated to humans. Continue reading
A shooting at a sawmill in Nanaimo, British Columbia on April 30, 2014 has left two men dead and two in hospital recovering from gunshot wounds. The gunman, a 47 year old former employee is in custody. The murder weapon is a shotgun. I will not be surprised if prohibitionists use this tragedy to step up their complaints that it is the “availability of guns,” that it is too easy to get a gun, as to what is to blame for such incidents. “Availability” or “access to guns” is commonly held as a problem in the ranks of prohibitionists who tirelessly assert this claim. Researchers have tried to test this theory that there is a causal link between the availability of guns and deaths and injuries by gun. The difficulty for researchers studying this theory is in generating data that can be tested using scientific research methods. However, their inability to find a causal link between the availability of guns and deaths and injuries by gun has not stopped prohibitionists from advancing their belief that such a link exists. 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
In an effort to prop up the Canadian Firearms Act imposed on Canadian gun owners by the Liberal government of Prime Minister Jean Chretien, Anne McLellan was appointed as the Minister of Justice in 1997 (a post she held until 2002). In propping up the Canadian Firearms Act the Ministry of Justice came up with the slogan Aiming for Safety for the promotion of the Canadian Firearms Program, a component of the Canadian Firearms Act. I remember all this at the time and then as now when I review the transcriptions of Anne McLellan’s public pronouncements on creating a “culture of safety and responsibility around the ownership and use of guns” I still register shock and disbelief. Is she really that obtuse? How does making gun ownership a crime, enabling bureaucrats to prohibit makes and models of firearm arbitrarily and demanding that hunters and sport shooters register themselves and their property with the state do anything for safety and responsibility around the ownership and use of guns? In short, it does nothing of the kind; Aiming for Safety is nothing more than a euphemism for gun prohibition.
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.”