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 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.