Tag Archives: legislation

Remember, Remember


Remember, remember!
The sixth of December,
The girls in Montreal were shot;
I know of no reason
Why Lepine’s open season
Should ever be forgot!
Young Gharbi with his rifles
Did the scheme contrive
To kill the feminist women,
Make them all die.
“Misogyny!” Media blows.
“Guns are all evil, don’t ya know?”
Good men fought, but they were no match
For the agenda to be dispatched!
Victims were martyred
Illness ignored
“If you won’t give your gun,
We’ll take two,
The better for all,
And the worse for you!”
A rope, a rope to hang Scapegoat,
A gun was the cause of this crime,
A hatred of women is fine,
Talk of mental illness is lies!
Holloa, girls! Holloa, girls! Blame the guns now!
Holloa, girls! Holloa, girls! Take them all now!
Hip, hip, hooor-r-r-ray!

For the last couple of years, I’ve wanted to write a blog about Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot.  I always seem to get bogged down in November and miss it though, only coming up for air about this time of year when the Ecole Polytechnique furor picks up.  So, this year, I decided to combine the two.  The above poem is my ode to Dec 6, set to the metre of Remember, Remember   😛

With the recent abolition of the long gun registry, I expected the Dec 6 hullabaloo to be a bit more chaotic than usual this year.  Surprisingly, it has been quite tame so far.  I’m not naive enough to think we’ve heard the last of it though.

The fourteen victims of Marc Lepine/Gamil Gharbi were killed on Dec 6, 1989 and their memories have been butchered all over again every Dec 6 since that date.  Rather than using their deaths as a launching point to bring awareness to mental health issues and violence against all people, a handful of Feminazi activitists chose to turn those tragic deaths into a pulpit for gun control and violence against women.  In a stroke, these misguided people drove an irreparable wedge between the sexes and alienated several million honest gun owning Canadians.  Each year, vigils and forums are held to discuss violence against women.  No doubt this is a worthy cause, but it’s irrelevant to the date.  Yes, only women were killed that day, and yes, Lepine spoke openly about his anti-women beliefs.  However, he could just as easily have fixated upon men, or children, or dogs.  It just so happens that his mental illness manifested against women. 

That’s why the memorials on this day are so out of touch with the reality of what happened in 1989.  Where are the focus groups and discussions on mental health?  Where is the funding for community health groups that could have helped Marc Lepine before he went on his ramapage?

Every year that we continue to focus on Marc Lepine’s victims rather than on the cause of his actions, is another year that the deaths of those women continue to have been in vain.  Yes, there are still gender issues that need addressing, but Dec 6 is not, and never was about feminism or misogyny.  Dec 6 is, and always has been, about mental illness.

When are we going to stop dishonouring the victims of Ecole Polytechnique and finally address the real reason that they died?

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Meet the Man Responsible for the Death of Canada’s Gun Registry


This article is from a few months ago, but I thought it well worth posting.  Thank you Garry for all of your tireless work for the citizens of Canada!!!

http://www.forbes.com/sites/frankminiter/2012/02/29/meet-the-man-responsible-for-the-death-of-canadas-gun-registry/

 

Frank Miniter, Contributer
I expose the excesses of the bureaucracy

Looking north across the border, American gun owners may well see the fall of Canada’s long-gun registry with relief. This, after all, lessens the odds that the anti-gun movement will be successful in its attempt to install a gun-owners database in the U.S. However, before American gun owners forget about Canada all over again, there’s an incredible story here not being told outside Ottawa political circles that needs to be heard by every American who cherishes their freedom.

The way the press is telling it, the Conservatives finally gained control of the House of Commons and the Senate and then used, as they said they would, their majorities to begin the repeal of Canada’s long-gun registry. Their first big step, taken on February 15, was the House of Commons vote to kill the long-gun registry. They accomplished this by 159-130. Next up is Canada’s Senate, where repeal is inevitable because Conservatives also have a majority there. Finally, it’ll make its way to the Governor General of Canada where it will receive Royal Assent and be passed into law. So sometime this spring law-abiding Canadians will no longer have to fill out forms and pay fees in order to keep authorities aware of what’s in their gun cabinets.

All that seems to say that the political winds simply shifted and blew over the registry. The problem with that assumption is it isn’t quite true.

The true story is actually much more interesting; in fact, it needs to be heard by every American, as the arguments used by the anti-gun groups in Canada are the same ones being promoted in the U.S.

The story begins on an evening in January in 1994 in a little town called Preeceville, Saskatchewan. Garry Breitkreuz (pronounced Bright-Krites) was then a new member of Canada’s Parliament. He had been elected in October of 1993. Preeceville has about 1,000 residents. Garry was excited. This would be his first town-hall meeting. The topic was about a new gun-control bill, C-68, brought in by the then Liberal Government. It included the creation of a long-gun registry. “I’ll never forget that first meeting,” says Garry. “Even though it was 39 degrees below zero outside the place was packed and the people heated.”

Now it should be noted that Garry was hardly a gun-rights activist. Not yet anyway. Sure, he grew up in a rural Saskatchewan home and had a .30-30-caliber rifle he used to hunt deer with. “But when it came to the gun issue,” says Garry, “I was very naïve.”

Naïve indeed. Garry started the meeting off by saying to the crowd that “this long-gun registry seems to make sense. Maybe it’ll catch a few criminals….” He barely got started in this manner when his constituents made it clear they didn’t agree.

“They challenged me,” says Garry, “to do some research to find out if forcing people to register their guns will really save lives.”

Garry shut up and listened. Before a few more minutes passed he promised to do some research to find out if requiring people to register their guns really reduces crime.

This is where the story behind this repeal takes a “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” shift. Garry set out to learn if making citizens register their deer rifles with the police really prevents homicides. “After just a few months of digging into it I did a 180,” says Garry, who soon hired a researcher to help. The researcher’s name is Dennis Young. Together they started asking the government from the inside how much the gun registry was costing and whether it was really reducing crime. The bureaucracy began stonewalling him, so he started filing “Access to Information” requests (the American equivalent of “Freedom of Information Act” requests). By 2002 he’d filed more than 500 such requests.

He learned that the Canadian government was horribly underestimating the costs of the long-gun registry. In 1995 Canada’s Department of Justice told Parliament that the Canadian Firearms Program would cost $119 million to implement and that this cost would be offset by $117 million in fees; however, by 2000 Canada’s Department of Justice was already estimating that the long-gun registry would cost over $1 billion.

Meanwhile, the gun-owners database wasn’t reducing crime rates. In fact, John Lott, author of More Guns, Less Crime, looked into Canada’s long-gun registry recently and couldn’t unearth one murder the registry solved. Lott says, “The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Chiefs of Police have not yet provided a single example in which tracing was of more than peripheral importance in solving a case.”

Canada’s Public Safety Minister agrees with Lott. On the day of the vote to repeal the registry the National Post reported that Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said the long-gun registry “does nothing to help put an end to gun crimes, nor has it saved one Canadian life. It criminalizes hard-working and law-abiding citizens such as farmers and sport shooters, and it has been a billion-dollar boondoggle left to us by the previous Liberal government.”

Now, back in the 1990s Garry wasn’t getting any traction politically or with the press, so he took his research to the Office of the Auditor General of Canada. The government agency agreed to review his data and to do its own audit. The auditing agency agreed with Garry. In 2002 the agency reported: “The Department of Justice Canada did not provide Parliament with sufficient information to allow it to effectively scrutinize the Canadian Firearms Program and ensure accountability. It provided insufficient financial information and explanations for the dramatic increase in the cost of the Program.”

“This report blew the lid off,” says Garry.

He says that before the Office of the Auditor General report made headlines even many Conservative politicians wouldn’t touch the gun-registry issue. They thought it was a losing battle. They said the facts didn’t matter, just the demagoguery they’d surely receive. They were afraid of the big media in population centers in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver—sound familiar?

“But the public was ahead of the politicians on this issue,” says Garry. “In meetings all over the country I was telling people that with what they were spending on the registry we could hire five or six thousand police officers.”

This resonated.

The exploding costs of the registry made headlines even in the city papers. Gary A. Mauser, a Professor Emeritus at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, has also looked deeply into the costs. He says, “John Lott and I added up the costs and found that, in total, the Canadian government spent about $2.7 billion on this failed experiment.” That’s more than 20 times what it was forecast to cost.

Even after the 2002 report from Office of the Auditor General came out Garry kept traveling around Canada speaking about the costs of having the government invade law-abiding Canadians’ gun cabinets. He also kept citing the crime statistics, which clearly weren’t being affected by this massive invasion of Canadians’ civil liberties. Criminals, as it predictably turned out, weren’t registering firearms they were using for crimes.

Nevertheless, some Conservative politicians still didn’t want to tackle the issue. So Garry looked for a new way to pull them together. In 2006 he learned that the U.S. has a Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC). Nearly 300 members of the U.S. Congress are members of the CSC. Started in 1988-89, the CSC is supported by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF), a group that fights for sportsmen’s rights, including wildlife conservation issues and gun rights. (Full disclosure: I do contract work for the CSF.) Garry hopped on a plane bound for Washington, D.C.

According to Phil Morlock, who is the director of environmental affairs for Shimano American Corporation/Shimano Canada and who is a CSF board member, “Garry couldn’t believe the U.S. had this large caucus fighting for hunting, fishing and gun rights. He was even more astounded that the caucus is bi-partisan. He met with CSC congressional leaders. He found himself talking to Republican and Democratic co-chairs of the CSC and asked them how they get along in such a partisan and politically charged atmosphere. The American politicians laughed and said that sometimes they think all they really agree on are sportsmen’s rights, including the rights of law-abiding gun owners.”

Garry flew back to Ottawa and, with the help of Morlock and others, started a nonpartisan caucus called the Canadian Parliamentary Outdoor Caucus. This caucus now is one of the largest on Parliament Hill. “The caucus helped get the information out to Members of Parliament and Senators that the long-gun registry was intrusive and ineffective,” says Garry.

At the time Garry wrote an op-ed for various newspapers in which he said, “[We] need to become proactive in protecting our outdoors heritage from an increasing number of large, well-funded, international groups who want to shut down hunting, fishing, trapping and sport shooting. Rural and urban Canadians of all political affiliations, backgrounds, ages and abilities contribute over $10 billion annually to the national economy through these industries. These traditional activities are a key part of Canada’s culture and an important component of our history as a nation.”

Sportsmen and those who just wanted to protect their families without government interference now had a caucus working for them.

Then, also in 2006, Stephen Harper, a Conservative, became prime minister of Canada by forming a minority government. Harper didn’t have the votes then to tear down the registry, but over the next few elections the Conservatives gained more seats. Finally, in 2011, with the caucus, the government, the facts and the public on their side, the Conservatives had the votes and the will to move against the long-gun registry.

Garry says the caucus, along with the blatant fact that the long-gun registry was costing a fortune without solving crimes, even had support from politicians in other parties. Nevertheless, when the vote came only two New Democrats—John Rafferty and Bruce Hyer—broke from their party and voted to repeal. “They’re now being punished by their party for doing the right thing,” laments Garry.

Then, when the vote came on February 15, something unusual took place. In the Canadian House of Commons members of Parliament stand to signify their votes. After Garry stood to vote to repeal the long-gun registry, they broke into a cheer: “Garry, Garry….” This just isn’t done in the reserved atmosphere of the Canadian Parliament. But repealing a government program—no matter how onerous and costly it turns out to be—is a rare thing. It’s especially rare to see a database of gun-owners repealed. Throughout history many governments have created gun registries—most recently in Australia and England. Gun registries often end in gun confiscations—again, this has occurred in Australia and England—but as far as Lott knows no registry has ever been repealed.

And the moral of the story is that Canada’s experiment didn’t end with the government disarming its citizenry because the people stood up and challenged a statesman to represent them by searching out the truth—this, in a nutshell, is what the Tea Party has been advocating in the U.S.

In fact, I asked Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action how this might affect Americans and he said, “Gun registration in the United States has always been the political fantasy of the gun-ban lobby. The clear lesson from Canada is that registration did not and does not reduce crime; in fact, since Canada’s long-gun-registration law went into effect, the U.S. murder rate has dropped almost twice as fast as Canada’s. A gun registry only infringes on privacy and has led to the confiscation of law-abiding citizens’ firearms in countries around the world, and even here in the U.S. That is why the NRA will fight any registration effort in the U.S. with every fiber we have.”

Indeed, Americans should be thanking Garry, too. He showed how to use facts, tenacity and a democratic process to overturn bad policy by convincing the government to stop making criminals out of law-abiding gun owners.

Gun control in one sentence


A good friend of mine had an epiphany a couple of days ago while pondering the global gun control issue.  He found a way to summarize the entire gun control debate in one sentence:

“If all the AK47s in Libya were licensed and registered, Muammar Gaddafi would still be alive today.”

Do you like it?  I do.  In fact, I like it so much that I’m dedicating an a blog entry to it.  It’s amazing how much meaning can be crammed into a single sentence!!

First point: the AK-47. 

The most quoted and, apparently feared, firearm on the face of the planet.  The Avtomat Kalashnikova selective-fire, gas operated, 7.62 x 39mm rifle was officially adopted for use by the Soviet Army in 1947.  Since then, it has become a favourite for military forces around the world, due to its robust design, reliability, low cost and ease of use.  AK-variant rifles are, in fact, the most widely produced assault rifle in the world [Source: Weaponomics: The Global Market for Assault Rifles; Killicoat, Phillip; WPS4202; April 2007].

The AK-47 is also incredibly popular among gun control advocates.  Every time a government suggests relaxing gun control laws, the cries of “Assault rifles will be easier to get!!” are heard from coast to coast.  They intentionally invoke images of madmen running loose with AK-47s, shooting anyone who happens across their path.  In the minds of gun control advocates, the AK-47 is the most dangerous gun ever made and nobody should ever own it, or anything like it.  They rely on the average person’s ignorance about firearms to create a state of fear and further their cause.  The bottom line is that a gun is a gun is a gun.  All are inert objects, the only danger comes from the person behind the trigger.  

Second point:  Libya.

The Arab Spring:  a string of revolutions throughout North Africa and the Middle East.  To mention but a few highlights, it began in Tunisia in December 2010, led to the overthrow of the Egyptian government in February 2011, and 9 months of bloody civil war in Libya.  The fighting has calmed in most affected countries, but still rages unchecked in Syria.

The protests, demonstrations and revolutions that rocked the Arab world were widely hailed as positive by the Western World.  They were seen as pro-democracy, the will of people, and the start of a positive new future for citizens of oppressed nations. 

The hypocrisy of it all is that, while groups such as Amnesty International supported these uprisings against oppressive regimes and dictators, they continued to try to disarm the very citizens they were supporting!  Now that the war has ended, the UN has become very vocal about disarming the people of Libya.  They are actively working towards preventing any future generations of Libyans from having the means to fight for their freedom if the need arises again.

Libya is a fitting example for the gun control issue on another front as well.  They have some of the strictest gun control laws in the world.   Civilian gun ownership is entirely prohibited and it is also illegal to privately sell or transfer them.  Despite gun ownership being illegal, civilians own nearly twice as many guns as the military and police.  Civilian firearms are numbered at about 900,000, military firearms at 535,200 and police firearms at 22,000.  The rate of civilian firearms ownership is 15.5 per 100 people.  In comparison, in Canada, the rate of civilian firearms ownership is 23.8 per 100 people [Source:  Small Arms Survey, 2007].

Let me say that again.  In a country where civilian ownership of firearms is completely outlawed, the citizenry still outgun the military and police by almost 2:1!!!  

To summarize, while organizations like Amnesty International fully support the revolutions of the Arab Spring, they are doing everything in their power to ensure that the people revolting are denied the very tools that they need to succeed. 

Third point: Licensing and Registration

Oh boy, where do I even start on this one?  This topic has been done to death so many times, I’m not sure I even want to address it again.  These vary between countries, but here’s the nutshell version for Canada:

Licensing.  This is the process through which a government body determines an individual’s fitness to own firearms.  It essentially states that firearms ownership is illegal unless you are granted an exemption from that law by means of a license.

Registration.  This ties a firearm to its owner by means of a registration certificate.  The certificate contains information regarding the type of firearm (make, model, serial number, etc) and that certificate is linked to a specific firearms license holder.

They seem innocent enough on the surface, but these two puppies have been the cause of much death and destruction throughout history.  Put simply, every major genocide of the twentieth century was preceded by civilian disarmament – Ottoman Turkey, USSR, China, Rwanda, Guatemala, Uganda, Germany.  These confiscation schemes were all aided through systems of licensing and registration.  It’s common sense really – you can’t take a gun away from a person if you don’t first know that they have it. 

In some cases, Hitler and Mao for example, the introduction of the gun control laws was very methodical and a strategic part of their plans.  In other cases, Rwanda and Guatemala, the existing laws were a simple and convenient means to a horrific end.

The bottom line is that the intentions of the people who enact these laws are irrelevant.  What’s important is the potential for abuse and misuse of these laws in the future.  Simply put, if the potential for misuse exists, it’s a bad law.

Putting it all together

Muammar Gaddafi was one of the longest reigning and perhaps one of the most well-known dictators in recent history.  The reason that Muammar Gaddafi is dead is because the people of Libya had the resolve to rebel against him.  The means of their rebellion was their ability to fight for their freedom through the use of privately owned firearms.  The people of Libya were still armed, despite prohibitions on firearms ownership, simply because the country did not have a system of licensing and registration in place that would have allowed for wholesale confiscation.  If Gaddafi had gun controls in place, he would have confiscated firearms prior to viciously crushing the resistance, making many pay the price so that he could remain alive, unchallenged and in power.

Civilian gun ownership is not about hunting or target shooting or even home defense.  It is about freedom and democracy.  Many gun control advocates imagine a world where only the police and the military own guns – a police state.  Others imagine a world of peace where nobody needs guns.  While this is a noble goal, it is not the world we currently live in.  Until the causes of violence are addressed, guns will continue to be a necessary tool in our lives.

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.

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.