Tag Archives: rights

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.

Body Armour Control Act: Revisited


I first wrote about BC’s Body Armour Control Act on October 24, 2009.  At that time, I had little understanding of how quickly bills can move through provincial legislatures.  Even by provincial standards, this bill was pushed through with lightning speed, leaving practically no time for public input.  By the time I wrote my blog entry, it had already passed 2nd Reading.  Two days later, on October 26, 2009, the bill went through Committee, Report, Amendment and passed 3rd Reading – all in a single day!  On October 29, 2009 the bill received Royal Assent. 

First Reading October 20, 2009
Second Reading October 22, 2009
Committee October 26, 2009
Report October 26, 2009
Amended October 26, 2009
Third Reading October 26, 2009
Royal Assent October 29, 2009
Source: http://qp.gov.bc.ca/39th1st/votes/progress-of-bills.htm

What is it?

A brief backgrounder for those who don’t know, this Act was introduced in an effort to curb gang violence in BC, particularly Vancouver.  The idea is that by restricting access to body armour, it will reduce a criminal’s “sense of security” making them less likely to engage in shootouts in our communities. 

Though there are many faults with this legislation, the biggest one is the complete lack of logic involved.  Criminals will always have have access to body armour, and they’re highly unlikely to acquire a permit or register it with police.  In effect, the only thing this bill does, is give the Solicitor General 15 minutes of fame, and take away the ability of the public to possess a passive safety device.

For more details, see my previous blog post.

What’s the status now?

From February 25 – March 12, 2010 the Public Safety and Solicitor General’s office has opened the floor to “Interested Stakeholders” to give input into the regulations that will bring this act into force.  Here is the Proposed Framework on which they would like your feedback:

Proposed Framework

  • Types of Body Armour to be Included

It is envisioned that Body Armour Control Act (BACA) Regulations and policy will apply to body armour that is ballistic, stab and/or puncture resistant. This will include trauma plates, inserts and other devices that can be added to the vests over a localized area to increase the wearer’s protection against blunt trauma injuries or projectiles fired from a firearm.

This may include, but not be limited to garments and items which meet the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Standard 0101.06 – Standards for Ballistic resistance of Personal Body Armour, types II,IIA, III, IIIA or IV or National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Standard 0115.00 – Stab Resistance of Personal Body Armour, levels 1, 2 or 3.

  • Body Armour Permit Requirements

Unless exempt under the BACA or Regulations from the requirement to obtain a body armour permit, individuals wanting to possess body armour will be required to make an application to the Registrar of Security Services for a Body Armour Permit. This may include those wanting to possess body armour due to non-violent threats to personal safety related to a sport, hobby or occupation (e.g., sport shooting club members) or individuals with threats to their personal safety of an ongoing nature.

Permit applicants will be required to provide personal information – including name, date of birth and contact information – and will be required to prove a reasonable need for the possession of body armour. In addition, applicants will have to undergo a criminal record check and pay a permit fee (fee estimates at this time are $90 for 5-year term and $45 for renewal).

Once a risk assessment is performed on the applicant, a permit will be issued to the individual allowing them to purchase, wear or possess body armour. A permit holder must carry the permit when in possession of body armour and produce it upon request by a peace officer or inspector.

  • Body Armour Permit Exemptions

There are a number of legitimate uses of body armour where it is required for protection in the course of one’s employment or job-related duties. Among those that will be exempt from the requirement to obtain a body armour permit are individuals employed by police and other enforcement agencies, armoured car guards, security guards, security consultants and private investigators. Proof of exemption will be required to be carried by these individuals when purchasing body armour or when in possession of body armour and will be linked to their security worker license, badge number, employee identification or verification document as applicable.

Exemptions to requiring a permit will also be considered for those individuals who do not reside in British Columbia but require body armour during their stay (i.e., diplomats) and/or individuals with imminent threats to their personal safety.

An individual in an exempt category must carry proof of exemption and produce it upon request by a peace officer or inspector when in possession of body armour.

  • Body Armour Business and Sales Persons Licensing Requirements

Businesses that sell body armour and their employees play an important role in ensuring that purchasers of body armour are authorized to do so. Businesses that sell body armour in British Columbia will be required to obtain a security business license under the Security Services Act to sell body armour, and employees of the business selling the body armour must obtain a security worker licence with licence type Body Armour Sales. Body Armour vendors will also be required to record information about body armour sales to show that sales are made only to people who are authorized to possess body armour.

What can I do?

Use the feedback form provided by the PSSG or send an e-mail to Sylvia.Montagnaro@gov.bc.ca

Let your lawmakers know that it is completely unacceptable for them to push through legislation without public input.  Tell them that this Act is an abomination that infringes on your charter rights.  It is a useless piece of legislation that will do nothing to improve public safety, it will reduce public respect for police officers who must enforce it, and it is nothing more than a blatant tax grab.  Let them know that the voters will hold them accountable.

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS:  MARCH 12, 2010

Folly of Feminism


The Toronto Star recently ran an article discussing a report released by the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (CFAIA) and the Canadian Labour Congress.

I could critique the usual fear-mongering and misuse of statistics in their report, or postulate on why a labour union was involved in its creation. However, I think a more useful approach is to focus on feminism as a whole.

In their earliest forms, feminism and women’s liberation were noble movements.  They sought to give women equality, legal autonomy, self-determination, and freedom of choice in a broad range of topics from reproduction to employment.  However, in more recent years, the agenda of feminist activists seems to have less to do with giving disadvantaged women a hand up and more to do with giving them a handout.

Activists wail and beat their drums, blaming everything from men to weapons to government for the plight of subjugated women everywhere.  They ignore the fact that portraying women as helpless victims of society undermines the entire concept of feminism.  They also ignore the fact that men and women are different.  While striving for total equality is noble, it’s also a pipe dream.  Men and women are not equal and they never will be.  There are very definite physical, emotional and mental differences between the sexes.  Some roles in our society are better suited to women, others to men, and no amount of government initiatives will ever alter that fact.

Should women have the opportunity to tackle any societal role that they choose?  Absolutely. However, so should men.  While there are still traditionally male-dominated areas where it’s difficult, if not impossible, for a woman to break through, the same holds true for men. 

This brings up another concept that modern feminist activists refuse to acknowledge: that men suffer too.  In their world, violence or discrimination against a woman is a human rights abuse, but violence or discrimination against a man is not just normal, it’s acceptable.  The divisive tactics used by feminist activists show that they have another agenda that has nothing to do with bettering the lives of women.  If they were truly interested in bettering our society, they would be looking at ways to improve the quality of life for everyone, not just women.

Taking a slightly different tack, in the Star article I mentioned above, wage parity (or lack thereof) in Canadian society is brought up.  I’m not going to touch on the fact that the professor quoted in the article is focussing only on wages as an indicator of quality of life.  Instead I’m going to point out how feminist activists, as usual, fail to take into consideration 3 very key issues that cause such a discrepancy in earnings: choice, childbearing and communication.

Many women simply choose not to go into higher paying (and traditionally male-dominated) fields.  The reasons are many and varied: it may be a career that is better suited to men, women just aren’t interested, or if they are in the field they’re unwilling to do what’s necessary to earn their place.  You see, equal opportunity isn’t something that can come from government handouts or special committees.  Like men, women need to push through obstacles on their own and prove that they are capable of doing the job.

I’ve worked in a male-centric field my entire adult-life and I’ve encountered many seemingly “backward” or “sexist” attitudes along the way.  I know my male readers are going to love this, but men really are like children 😀  They will regularly push the boundaries to see what they can get away with.  Women planning to work in a mostly male environment need to learn how to thrive in that environment.  There are many tricks and tools that are far more effective than crying “harassment” and seeking disciplinary action.  Gaining acceptance isn’t about running to management to complain that your male co-workers aren’t playing nice and trying to demand their respect simply because of your gender.  It’s about earning their respect based on merit. 

Connected to Choice is the second item I mentioned: Childbearing.  In 60% of two-earner families, one partner works full-time while the other either doesn’t work, or works part-time.  In 91% of those families, the man is the primary breadwinner. [Source: Statistics Canada, Family Work Patterns]  It’s pretty simple.  Women who have children work less, which means they have less work experience than their male co-workers, which means they will earn less. 

I can already hear people complaining that women are being “punished” for having children.  Quite the contrary, it’s actually very equal.  Like their male co-workers, they’re being paid based on their recent relevant work experience, rather than being given a handout simply for being female. 

My last point is communication.  Many a book has been written outlining the differences in communication styles between men and women.  In general, men tend to be more direct and ask for what they want.  Women tend to use a more subtle approach. 

Over the years I’ve seen the following scenario happen time and again, not so much in unionized employment, but definitely in the private sector:  Joe and Jane start working in the same job at the same company at the same time earning the same wage.  Five years later, they’re both in the same job, but Joe is now earning more than Jane.  Another 5 years down the road, Jane is still in the same job, earning only slightly more than when she started, while Joe has been promoted and received a raise…twice!

The modern feminist would have us believe that this is a perfect example of inequality in the workplace.  On the contrary, it’s a perfect example of a skill that women need to be taught in order to be successful in the workplace.  Why is Joe doing so much better in the company than Jane?  Because he asked.  Women will toil away at a job for years, expecting their boss to notice their hard work and offer them a raise or promotion.  Men will simply go to their boss and ask for it.

Much progress has been made in the quest for women’s rights over the last 200 years.  Laws have been made and repealed; cultural norms have been challenged and changed.  Government legislation has gone about as far as it can go.  It’s now up to women to pick up the flag and run with it themselves.

Instead of undermining their own efforts by portraying women as victims, feminists need to start taking a more positive and proactive approach.  Rather than wasting their time and energy lobbying for sympathy and handouts, they should be teaching women the skills they need to succeed.

The War on Freedom


I’ve been stateside for the last week, and after spending hours in various airports listening to “Homeland Security Advisories”, dealing with airport security and watching American newscasts, I’m now more convinced than ever that the Fear Industry is very real.

For reasons that I can only speculate on, there seems to be a concerted global effort to create a culture of fear throughout the developed world.  In countries like Australia and Canada, this industry is more subtle, but in the UK and the USA, there seems to be little or no attempt to hide it. 

As I type this, I’m actually sitting in the airport and listening to the “Security Advisories” being announced.  Has anyone else noticed that since they started doing these threat level announcements 8 years ago, the level has never dropped below “Orange”?  Be vigilant, they say.  Watch for suspicious activity.  Inform the police or Transport Security officers of any perceived threats.  Oh and while you’re at it, why don’t you subject yourself to our overzealous and ineffective security screening process?  You don’t mind do you?  Sure it violates a couple of your rights, but it’s in the name of public safety in the “War on Terror”, so you really shouldn’t complain.

What really disturbs me though is the number of people who truly believe that by carrying 100mL bottles of shampoo, the world, or at least the airport, is a safer place.  They truly believe that by taking off their shoes, they are thwarting the next 9/11. 

“Most people want security in this world, not liberty” ~H.L. Mencken, Minority Report, 1956

Especially here in the United States, the people are constantly inundated with messages of violence and fear and possible terrorist attacks.  All of the major news networks flood their viewers with information.  There’s the news anchor with pictures and videos of some tragic story that they repeat ad nauseum for days on end.  There are the scrolling panels that are impossible to follow and leave the viewer feeling overwhelmed and anxious.  And my personal favourite, has been the gradual shift from reporting facts to intentionally eliciting a specific emotional response in the viewer.  “There was a motor vehicle accident on the highway this afternoon involving multiple vehicles that left one person dead and several others in hospital with minor injuries” has been replaced with “There was a horrific crash on the highway that took the life of an innocent young mother, left several others clinging to life in hospital, and left witnesses traumatized”.

The news writers carefully word the stories to guide the viewer to a precise emotional response, be it fear or grief or worry, etc. Whatever that emotion may be, it will very rarely be positive.  CNN hasn’t been dubbed “Constantly Negative News” for no reason.  This phenomenon is by no means limited to the US – it’s just far more blatant here than in other countries.

As I mentioned earlier, I could speculate endlessly on the reasons for this constant fear factor, but I think that would serve little purpose.  What’s more important, in my opinion, is being aware of what has been, and could be, done while people are in this state.  You see, when people are feeling afraid, or hopeless, or anxious, or overwhelmed, or stressed, they have a tendency to give up rational thought.  They’ll listen to anyone who claims to be able to make those uncomfortable feelings go away, and damn the consequences.

The consequences, however, are huge!  What I see happening on almost a daily basis is a gradual erosion of our rights and freedoms.  Every day we trade a little bit of freedom for the illusion of safety.  I’ll repeat that last bit: the illusion of safety.  All of the endless new laws and security screening procedures simply make us think we’re safer, while doing nothing to actually address the underlying issues. 

What many people fail to grasp, is that we live in a world of duality.  Light and dark, hot and cold, up and down, love and hate, good and evil.  You can’t have one without the other.  All the rules, regulations, laws and security procedures in the world will never, ever change that.  If someone is determined enough, they will always find a way. 

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t try to make the world a better place.  I’m saying that we need to carefully consider the wisdom of our current path.  Do we really want to live in a world where everyone is presumed guilty?  Do we really want to live in a world where people are punished because of what they might do?  Is legislating safety really making us safer, or just making us feel like we are?

Lastly and most importantly: what’s the point of fighting for freedom, if you’re going to use that freedom to create laws that take it away?

Body Armour Control Act


On October 20, Kash Heed, the Solicitor General of British Columbia, introduced new legislation that would effectively ban body armour in the province of BC (see here for the news story).

To put it rather bluntly, Bill 16-2009 (Body Armour Control Act) is an abomination of legislation that should never have seen the light of day.  In an effort to reduce gang violence, Mr Heed has proposed that only those who can prove a legitimate need for body armour should be allowed to purchase and possess it in BC.  Additionally, the legislation proposes that the province should create a permit system and a registry to keep track of all citizens who are legally allowed to own body armour.  Anyone found to be in illegal possession of this armour could face up to a $10,000 fine and/or 6 months in jail.

I can see several problems with this proposed law, right off the top.

1)  There’s this pesky little document known as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and Section 7 goes something like this:

“Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.”

Somehow I really don’t think that the government’s argument, that a passive safety device needs to be restricted just because a criminal might use it, really qualifies as a “principle of fundamental justice”.

2)  The logic (and I use that word very loosely) employed by Mr Heed, is that if access to body armour is restricted, gangsters will no longer be able to use it, taking away their “sense of security”, and therefore reducing the number of shootings in our cities.

By that same “logic”, in order to reduce high speed chases, we should ban seatbelts.  After all, without them, criminals would no longer feel “safe” speeding and would stop running away from police.  Right??

Does anyone else smell the BS?

3)  By definition, a gangster is a criminal.  They have proven time and again that they have no regard for the laws of our society.  So by what stretch of the imagination does the Solicitor General believe that even one single gang member will abide by this one?  If, for some unlikely reason, a criminal wasn’t able to purchase body armour on the black market within BC, it wouldn’t exactly be a hardship to legally purchase it in either Alberta or the Yukon.  The last time I checked, there wasn’t a manned border between provinces and territories in this country.

4)  Say a criminal is caught committing a crime, and the crown throws the book at him, charging him with every firearm, weapon and body armour offense they can think of.  Do you really think he’ll ever be convicted of any of those lesser charges?  Of course not.  As has already been proven time and again with the Firearms Act, the lesser charges will be plea-bargained away in order to make the “important” charge stick.

So under this proposed new law, as usual, it will only be the general public who are convicted.  It will be the men and women who innocently forget to renew their permit, or make a simple mistake on their forms, who will suffer.  They are the ones who will be found guilty, convicted of “paper crimes”, while the real criminals go about business as usual.

5)  As I previously mentioned, one of the key components of this proposed Act is a permit and registry system.  Everyone who has a legitimate need for body armour will have to fill out a form and apply for a permit to possess body armour.  Every person who is deemed eligible to possess body armour will be recorded in a database. It will be that person’s responsibility to keep the permit current, and to ensure that all the information contained in the registry is correct.

So, where is the money to operate this permit and registry system going to come from?  Setting up the permit office(s) and starting the registry will be an expensive proposition, and that money will be coming straight out of the taxpayer’s pockets.  At a time when the global economy is in turmoil, you’d think the government could find something better to spend our money on.

6)  Continuing on the theme of the registry, one more question comes to mind: How does making a list of law-abiding citizens have any affect whatsoever on crime?  I’m sure the criminals are just shaking in their boots right now thinking about this proposed new law.  Shaking with laughter that is.  Our government and lawmakers are going to be so busy making lists of honest people that they’re not going to have time to go after the criminals!

This Bill has just passed first reading in the provincial legislature, so there is still time to try and stop it.  Even if it does pass (which I’m afraid it will), it would likely be overturned on a Charter Appeal.  But it shouldn’t need to be.

Why do our lawmakers insist on continually putting forward such flawed legislation?  If I, an average Jane, can immediately see so many holes in their argument, why can’t they?  Our leaders can’t really be this naïve and misguided can they?

There is a part of me that still wants to believe that these are just honest men and women doing the best they can for our society.  But the jaded cynic in me is winning out.  I can’t help but wonder why every single new law seems to strip away more of our rights.  I can’t help but wonder why so many people are so eager to willingly give up their basic freedoms. 

What makes me really sick though, is that this gradual erosion of our rights, always seems to be done in the name of “public safety”.  Call me crazy, but here’s a thought: if our leaders are truly interested in public safety, shouldn’t they be focusing on the criminals, rather than making lists of the innocent?