Gun Toting Liberals


I was shown this video today and found it to be a very powerful and well thought out argument.  It needs sharing with everyone you know.

There is a misconception all over the western world that guns are a “right-wing” issue.  The topic of gun control has been framed as a left vs right argument, with gun control supporters on the left and gun owners on the right.  This is far from the truth.  The gun debate does not fall strictly within party lines.  History shows that gun control can be introduced from either the left or the right, but that it always has unintended negative consequences. 

Outside the western world, the truth of the gun control argument is obvious. 

What’s in a word?


Has anybody else noticed the interesting use of language by the media lately regarding the gun registry debate?

One of my personal favourites that is being bandied about these days is “sniper rifle.”  The media and the Gun Control Lobby are telling us that there will be sniper rifles everywhere when the registry is destroyed.  Too bad there’s no such thing.

A sniper is a person, not a type of firearm.  Simply put, any rifle that a sniper chooses to use, may be called a sniper rifle.   Whether that rifle is a gopher gun or a military rifle, if the person using it is an expert marksman (sniper) then it could be called a sniper rifle.  Similarly, many rifles are designed to shoot over 1km effective range.  That does not mean that they are by their nature a sniper rifle.  It is the skill of the shooter that determines whether it is one or not.

The other term that’s a media favourite is “assault rifle.”  Here’s a nice example for you.  The M16 is a military rifle.  The C8 is a variant of the M16 used by Canadian police forces.  The AR-15 is a civilian variant that is hugely popular among sport shooters.    The M16 and C8 are full-automatic – this means the gun will continue to fire as long as the trigger is depressed (commonly known as a “machine gun”).  The AR-15 is semi-automatic – this means the gun will fire only one bullet when the trigger is depressed.   Apart from this difference, they are all virtually identical.  They all have a very similar muzzle velocity and effective range and all fire the same round.

What’s my point, you ask?  My point is this.  Whenever the media writes about the C8 rifle, they will correctly refer to it as a carbine.  However, when those same media outlets write about the civilian AR-15, they will refer to it as an “assault rifle.”  If anything it’s an anti-assault rifle, but I digress.

You will also see the gun used in the Ecole Polytechnique massacre, the Ruger Mini 14, being referred to as an assault rifle.  It is, in reality, nothing more than a gopher gun.  Why?  Quite simply, the term “assault rifle” sounds scary to the uninformed public.   They want to create an image of crazed gun nuts running around our city streets with machine guns.

As I have illustrated many times before on this blog, the Gun Control Lobby knows they have no facts to support their cause, so they hope to sway people with emotion instead.   It would be nice if the media would remember that they are supposed to be objectively reporting the news, not helping lobby groups to create it.

Who ‘needs’ a gun?


This is an excellent editorial by Lorne Gunter at the National Post.  He perfectly summarizes one of the core issues of the gun control debate in Canada.

Who ‘needs’ a gun?

Lorne Gunter, National Post · Nov. 2, 2011 | Last Updated: Nov. 2, 2011 3:07 AM ET

On Tuesday morning, members of the National Post editorial board – a group that includes me – got into a fascinating email debate regarding the federal government’s decision to decommission the long-gun registry. We then segued into a discussion of the possibility of increasing restrictions for several makes and models of rifles that the previous Liberal government had deemed non-restricted.

“The point of getting rid of the gun registry was supposed to be that it criminalized farmers and hunters,” one of my colleagues wrote. “But now the Conservatives [might] delist sniper rifles and the kind of semi-automatic used in the Norway massacre. Why do farmers and hunters need sniper rifles that can pierce armour from a kilometre away?”

I do not own a gun. I have never owned a gun and can’t imagine I ever will. As objects of utility or recreation, guns hold little fascination for me.

My interest in guns is purely philosophical: I can’t trust any government that doesn’t trust my law-abiding fellow citizens to own whatever guns they want. It’s the instinct to ban – rooted in the notion that governments or “experts” know better than we ourselves what is best or safest for us – that scares me far more than the thought of my neighbour owning a sniper rifle. The banning instinct is never slaked. Once it has succeeded in prohibiting guns, it will turn itself to offensive speech or unhealthy food.

Even the notion that there are guns that can be readily identified as a “sniper” or “assault” rifle is specious. There is no definition of either that would be useful at law. Every country that has ever imposed a ban on certain types of rifles has encountered the same problem: It is impossible to define which rifles are safe for civilians and which are too dangerous, based on muzzle velocity, barrel length, bullet calibre, scope, etc. So in the end, each jurisdiction (Canada included) has been forced to resort to arbitrary and irrational criteria, such as that one model looks scarier than another. Typically the more military a rifle looks, the more likely it is to be banned, even if it is not operationally one bit different from a civilian “hunting” rifle.

But above all, it always worries me when the concept of “need” enters the debate, as in (to quote one of my colleagues): “Why do farmers and hunters need sniper rifles?”

The concept of “need” is antithetic to freedom in a democracy where the citizens are sovereign. No one needs a car that goes more than 110 km/ hr, because that is the highest speed limit in the country. So should any of us who want to drive more than a Smart Car or Fiat have to go cap in hand to a government official and explain our “need” for, say, a sports car, before we are granted the right to buy one? Many more Canadians – thousands more – are killed by speeding automobiles each year than by high-powered rifles that are beyond what ranchers “need” to kill coyotes.

If you are guilty of no crime, what you “need” is none of my business, or the government’s. In fact, it is the reverse. Any government that seeks to restrict the liberties of law-abiding citizens should have to prove it needs to do so, and that it is not just pandering to popular emotions and political sentimentality.

One editorial board member said he would feel completely “free,” even if he were prevented from buying a high-powered rifle. But it’s easy to give up a liberty that is unimportant to you. The reason we non-gun owners should stick up for owners’ rights is that someday it may be our rights that are under attack. Someday, the banners who are going after guns may decide that eliminating hate speech (as they define it) is more important than defending free speech. And if we free-speechers don’t stand with gun owners against the banners today, why would the gun owner stand with us tomorrow?

lgunter@shaw.ca

Destroy the data


Debate over Bill C-19, which would finally end the contentious long-gun registry, continues to grow heated in both Parliament and in the press.  The Coalition for Gun Control and their supporters have their backs to the wall and are throwing everything they can at this issue.

For those who wish to read the bill for themselves, it can be found here.  For those who prefer the Coles Notes version, the 20 page document can be whittled down to these two points:

1)      Legal gun owners will no longer be required to register their non-restricted firearms, and

2)      The existing registration data will be destroyed

Don’t let the shrill fear-mongering of the Gun Control Lobby fool you into thinking otherwise.  The two points above are the only changes made by Bill C-19.  There are no reclassifications (that favour either the Gun Control Lobby or gun owners), there will be no “delisting” (whatever that means) of sniper rifles, there is no anti-women rhetoric, there will not be blood in the streets.  These claims are simply the death throes of a vocal minority who no longer has the ear of the government.

The Gun Control Lobby knows they cannot stop the passage of this bill.  They know that point #1 is a done deal.  Their goal now is to try to prevent the destruction of the existing information.  Why?

The only coherent arguments that have come out so far in support of keeping the data, is the old “the money has already been spent” line, and Quebec’s interest in maintaining a provincial registry.  They say it would be too costly to start a new database from scratch, so they want the Federal government to hand over the existing information.

I’ll skip over the enormous Constitutional issues involved in the provinces setting up their own firearms registry (quite simply, it falls within federal jurisdiction) and focus on the simpler and more important facet of this debate.  Privacy.

This email from 2000 nicely illustrates the stance of the Privacy Commissioner:

FROM: Privacy Commissioner of Canada
TO: The Expert Panel on Access to Historical Census Records
DATE: February 9, 2000

“At the heart of any conception of privacy, and any code of privacy protection, lies the notion that people have a basic right to control their personal information. What this means, in concrete terms, is that when the government comes to collect information from people, they have the right to know why the information is being collected, how it will be used, how long it will be kept, and who will have access to it. The government has an obligation to tell them, and then proceed accordingly. This means that the government may use the information only for the purposes for which it was collected. And if personal information is going to be given to third parties, people need to be told that at the time it is collected. If they were not told that, release of the information to third parties should be subject to their consent. … Although I recognize the potential value of this information, I also recognize that the use of this knowledge may lead to serious breaches of privacy. … The information was collected for a specific purpose. That purpose has been fulfilled. In accordance with the principles of fair information practices, the information should not be retained. To retain it beyond its stated use is to invite pressure for other uses. No consent was given to other uses of the information.”

The above email was written in reference to Census Records, but it is just as relevant to the registry data.  Gun owners gave their information to the federal government for a specific purpose as outlined in the Firearms Act.  Gun owners did not consent at the time the data was collected for that information to be passed on to any third party.  Nobody knows what the provinces would use that information for and there was no consent from gun owners for the provinces to have it.

The Toronto Police Service nicely illustrated what they would use the out-dated registry information for: the harassment of legal gun owners.  Using the old Restricted Weapons Registry System (which predates the current firearms registry), the TPS went door knocking throughout Toronto (Project Safe City) seizing firearms from citizens who simply fell behind in their paperwork.  They went line by line through millions of records to track down these law-abiding citizens – for administrative errors.  What an incredible waste of police resources!! 

If there is no legal requirement to collect the registry data, there can be no legal reason to possess it.  The data needs to be destroyed and it needs to be made a crime to be found in possession of it.

Still Kicking


Just a quick update to say that I haven’t abandoned this blog.  Life has gotten in the way of writing over the last few months, but I’m hoping to start posting again soon.  With everything happening around the world these days, I’ve definitely got lots to write about!!

Disarming the harmless doesn’t reduce crime, it reduces freedom


George Jonas hits one out of the park with this excellent Op Ed piece on gun control.  I only wish our lawmakers had such a solid grasp on common sense.

http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/01/18/george-jonas-disarming-the-harmless-doesnt-reduce-crime-it-reduces-freedom/

It was predictable for anti-gun activists to surface after the Tucson tragedy of Jan. 8. Some are the same opportunists who tried blaming the attempted assassination of U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords on Sarah Palin and the Tea Party, but others aren’t political. They’re simply gun-shy. It’s a condition, I suppose, or at least a phobia, beyond the reach of reason.

Gun-shy folk have this much in common with gun-enthusiasts.

Guns are loved and hated irrationally. Some people admire firearms, collect them, fondle them, all but have sex with them. Others abhor guns, consider them pornographic, react to them as Victorians did to risqué remarks. Both types are equally alien to me, but they aren’t equal.

Former Toronto mayor David Miller was gun-shy. (I imagine he still is.) He tried making Toronto a gun-free zone, or said he would. He wanted Torontonians to have no guns, gun clubs, gun collections or shooting ranges within the city limits. He himself had no guns, presumably, or any interest in shooting.

Had the former mayor been a gun enthusiast, much as he may have collected guns and visited shooting ranges himself, I doubt if he would have tried obliging his fellow Torontonians to do so.

Here’s the difference. Those who love guns rarely demand that you share their admiration, but those who hate guns demand that you share their aversion. Firearm-philiacs make no attempt to persuade, let alone oblige, anyone to have a love affair with guns, but firearm-phobiacs use the law at every turn to make their hatred obligatory. Gun-lovers understand something about freedom; gun-haters understand only coercion. In the gun debate, the peaceniks are the bullies.

What about the merits of the debate? Immaterial. Love and hate are beyond debate. Ex-mayor Miller, for instance, used to talk about public safety. He and I may not have shared many soft spots, but I’d defy anyone to have a softer spot for public safety than me. I pose no threat to my townspeople and I prefer my townspeople to pose no threat to me. Yet the same goal — public safety — would lead Miller and me to entirely different policies. His instinct would be to control guns; mine, to control crime.

Gun-control advocates would disarm the harmless, and leave them defenceless against the harmful they can’t disarm. If I couldn’t disarm the harmful, which would be my first choice, my second choice would be to arm the harmless, or at least encourage them to arm themselves.

Disarming the harmless is easier, of course. Passing a law is all it takes. People who don’t much shoot people pay attention to laws. Many even pay attention to bylaws. Pass a bylaw that says “give up your guns, please” and by golly, they’ll give ’em up.

In contrast, disarming the harmful may be impossible. They’re scofflaws. They don’t obey.

Politics, as they say, is the art of the possible. Mayors are politicians, practical people, favouring practical solutions. Passing laws for the law-abiding is practical because they’ll generally abide by them, while passing laws for the lawless is impractical for they will rarely do so.

For politicians, the matter seems simple. Only impractical people advocate measures that depend for success on compliance by the lawless — they say — when with the same effort they could put laws on the books that depend for success on compliance by the law-abiding. What’s the use of passing laws that people don’t obey, such as “thou shalt not kill?” We’ve hundreds of such laws on the books. “Don’t carry illicit handguns; don’t peddle illicit drugs; don’t shoot up the neighbourhood.” They’re all laws that cost a mint to enforce, to little avail. The practical thing is to pass laws that people do obey, such as “no shooting ranges within Toronto city limits.” Switching from low-compliance-rate laws to high-compliance-rate laws is the ticket.

It’s a ticket, all right — but a ticket to what? If the destination is public safety, gun collectors aren’t in the way, either in Toronto or Tucson. Citizens using guns in self-defence aren’t in the way, either. They aren’t making our cities unsafe. What makes our cities unsafe is drug-dealing youth gangs shooting at each other and hitting passers-by. Or deranged individuals hearing voices that urge them to shove people in front of subways. Or the authorities defending shoplifters against shopkeepers more keenly than shopkeepers against shoplifters, as they did in Toronto last year.

Outlawing shooting ranges within the city limits won’t change that. No passer-by has ever been shot at a Toronto shooting range. Threats to public safety don’t come from insufficient laws but insufficient people: teenage mothers, drug culture, youth gangs, mental illness. The problem? Try political correctness, self-censoring politicians, irresolute courts, hamstrung police. People obeying good laws reduces crime; good people obeying bad laws reduces only freedom.

One cannot restrict the defiant by constraining the compliant. A law that obliged everybody within Toronto city limits to breathe would bring 100% compliance from the living and no significant change of behaviour from anyone else.

National Post

Hunting ducks, protecting families


Excellent editorial from today’s National Post.

http://www.nationalpost.com/opinion/columnists/Hunting+ducks+protecting+families/3577605/story.html

George Jonas, National Post · Saturday, Sept. 25, 2010

Did Canada’s firearm-phobic urban elites score an own goal? Did they open up a political opportunity for Stephen Harper? Many commentators seem to think so.

I’m not as sanguine as some, but if, by their narrow rescue of the registry, Ottawa’s gunless wonders did elevate a wasteful program of loony liberalism into an election issue, it may open up an opportunity to re-examine the debate about gun control.

The police carry guns for a reason: They’re great tools for law enforcement. Letting firearms become the monopoly of lawbreakers, far from enhancing public safety, is detrimental to it. Canada has gone out of its way to make criminals as invincible, and victims as vulnerable, as possible. This wasn’t the aim of gun control, of course, only the result.

Canada isn’t alone. Two years ago, terrorists in Mumbai, India, claimed some 500 casualties, dead and injured. Among the many questions raised by the outrage, there was a purely practical one: Why was the attack so successful? How could so few terrorists claim so many victims?

One obvious answer, as I wrote at the time, was firepower. Guns were illegal in the hands of both the terrorists and the victims. The victims obeyed the laws, the terrorists didn’t. A Mumbai-type atrocity couldn’t have happened in Dodge City–or in Edwardian Europe, for that matter, where gentlemen routinely carried handguns for protection — but it could happen again at next month’s XIX Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India.

Some regard carrying guns uncivilized. Would you call an era of legal guns in the hands of Edwardian gentlemen less civilized — or less safe — than our own era of illegal guns in the hands of terrorists and drug dealers? I wouldn’t. The civilized place was turn-of-the century London, where citizens carried guns and the police didn’t.

Society needs crime control, not gun control. Violent crime in America declined in the past 20-plus years after a majority of states enacted “right to carry” legislation. There may have been several reasons, but the “right to carry” was clearly one.

There are Second Amendment absolutists in America, and libertarians elsewhere, who regard a person’s birthright to own/carry a firearm beyond the state’s power to regulate. I’m not among them. Communities set standards for many things, from the possession of exotic animals to the operation of ham radios; why not lethal weapons? But our aim should be to enhance, not diminish, the defensive capacity of the good guys, and increase rather than decrease the number of auxiliary crime-fighters who are available to be deputized when the bad guys start climbing over the fence.

The relationship between citizens and the law is magnificently simple. Citizens are the law. Not the bureaucracy, not the police, not the pundits: Citizens. It’s all right for people to take the law into their own hands because in a free society the law is, in fact, in their hands. It is the people who delegate the power of law enforcement to the police, not the other way around.

The police may think they license citizens to carry arms, but they don’t. It’s citizens who license the police. They license them to carry arms, to enforce the law, to investigate crime, to serve and protect. All power flows from the public to the authorities, not the other way around.

In free societies, that is. There are societies where power flow is reversed. They’re called police states.

Canada isn’t a police state and we don’t want it to become one– not even our gun-shy urban elites, most of them. The police chiefs with their disarming rhetoric aren’t looking for a police state, either; it’s just that “the police-man’s lot is not a happy one,” as Gilbert and Sullivan pointed out, and being the only ones armed would make their lot happier.

Maybe so, except an arms monopoly only serves and protects the police, not the public. While we support our cops, making police work congenial isn’t Canada’s national purpose. Our entitlement to carry arms, unlike our American cousins’, stems from no particular provision of a constitutional amendment, but intrinsically from our fundamental traditions of freedom, subject to whatever conditions we choose to impose on ourselves.

If the gun registry becomes an election issue, it may serve as a reminder that guns aren’t only for hunting ducks, but also to help people safeguard themselves. It’s as proper for citizens to defend their homes in peacetime against domestic robbers as to defend their homelands in war against foreign invaders. People who defend their families act as honourably as those who provide for their families. They must do so within the law, needless to say, providing or defending, in war or in peace, but as long as they do, one type of action is simply an extension of the other.

If someone could persuade criminals and lunatics to obey gun control, it would be a splendid idea. As long as only law-abiding citizens obey it, it amounts to countering stray cats by neutering vets: Showy, but not very useful.