The Minister of Justice has told us repeatedly that "Canadians do not want to live in a Country where they feel they must own a gun for protection." This is absolutely true. Even the most vociferous pro-gun advocates do not want to possess guns only because they fear for their lives. It is also totally irrelevant. With the possible exception of longer sentences for gun crimes, there is nothing in C-68 that will make it any less necessary to own a gun for protection. It will merely make it impossible to do so legally. Consider the following analogy.
Due to the steadily deteriorating condition of the Canadian medical system, an increasing number of Canadians are finding it necessary to leave the Country to find quality medical care. The Minister of Health notices this and solemnly announces "Canadians do not want to live in a society where they feel they must leave the Country to get proper medical care. This steady flow of money out of Canada will cause our medical establishment to erode even further, catching us in a cycle of decay. This is insanity."
The Minister then announces her plan to stem this exodus of people seeking medical care in the U.S. She will introduce legislation providing a ten year jail term for anyone caught leaving the country for medical reasons.
Senator, if you feel that this legislation would represent a reasonable solution to this fictional problem, then kindly crumple this letter, throw it in the garbage, and pretend you never heard from me. If you feel this hypothetical legislation represents a draconian, upside down solution to this problem, then I think you must also reject Bill C-68, since it is based on exactly the same dubious logic.
There has been a lot of tongue clucking and poo-pooing in the media recently about keeping guns at home. We are incorrectly told that having a firearm for self defense makes your home such and such percent more likely to be the setting for the death of a loved one in an argument, as opposed to a criminal in a confrontation.
The people who tout this "logic" could not be more wrong if they deliberately tried to mislead people. Perhaps they have. In order to buy into their thinking you must first accept the false notion that criminal domestic violence is running rampant through society. Setting aside the factual and fictionalized examples provided by television momentarily, and looking at your own circle of friends and yourself, does this seem like an accurate portrayal of reality? Real life deviates widely from the lurid claims made by Cukier, Rock, and others, that this country is on a violent rampage.
Lastly, as further proof, ask yourself this: If you had a firearm in the house would you climb a local water tower and start shooting people? Would you kill your neighbour over their loud stereo? Would you shoot your spouse over what show to watch? If you answered no all to the above questions, congratulations! You are exactly like the 99.999 percent of society who are trustworthy and honest, but becoming increasingly fed up with being continually characterized as being unstable time bombs. C-68 is an insult to the national character of this nation.
Starting in the 1890's this country began to enact laws in respect to firearms. Every ten years or so after that it became seemingly obvious to those in power that these "old laws" were not working: a small number of people were still committing crazed and criminal acts with guns regardless of the laws. Everyone (amongst the lobbyists and the legislators anyway) agreed that the old laws had not gone far enough.
New law after law was enacted, each standing upon the shoulders of the last, each promising to banish guns and evil simultaneously. Apparently nobody told the bad guys. Nobody thought to ask if any of the "new laws" had even the slightest chance of working on anybody but the law abiding.
It is worth stating the obvious to say that no law yet devised on this earth has been able to make crazy people sane or criminals go straight. If enacted, Bill C-68 will be a dismal failure also. In ten years it too will be used as a springboard from which another "new" law will again attempt the impossible. In the process the charter rights of the honest and sane in this country will be even further eroded. Please stop this mad carousel: say no to C-68.
A recent editorial in a local newspaper referred to "gun owners' paranoid belief that the government wants to register guns so it can take them later on." Are gun owners truly paranoid? Allow me to delineate a brief history of gun confiscation in Canada, so you can judge for yourself the extent of our psychosis.
On August 3, 1940, Order in Council No. 3506 ordered the registration of all rifles and shotguns in Canada. The order was little known and largely ignored. However, those law abiding few who did comply were often surprised. The RCMP confiscated many of these registered guns from citizens they deemed to be a threat to security. (Primarily those of Italian ancestry)
In 1978, the Trudeau Liberals prohibited all fully automatic firearms. Owners were allowed to keep them, and trade amongst themselves, but the guns could not be passed to anyone else. These guns will all be confiscated eventually, probably from their owners' estates.
In 1992, Bill C-17 confiscated without compensation (stole) over fifty different makes and models of guns, plus their variants. Some of the .50 calibre long range rifles that were prohibited had retail values of five thousand dollars each. Owners who were forced to surrender these guns did not receive one cent in compensation.
At about the same time many police forces started going on confiscation binges, seizing semi-automatic versions of prohibited weapons, even though the law explicitly stated that only the full auto versions were prohibited. One collector I know lost four guns, worth $1,500 each. In 1993 the Supreme Court ruled that these seizures were legal because the guns could be modified to fire fully automatic. (Of course they could. Any semi-automatic firearm, as well as many lever action, bolt, or pump guns can be modified to fire full auto. Using this reasoning half the guns in Canada are illegal.)
Since that time these seizures have accelerated. The Surete du Quebec are currently holding several hundred converted full autos, which have been seized from their legal owners.
In January of this year, Allan Rock issued Orders in Council confiscating about twenty different types of firearms.
Finally, as you are well aware, Bill C-68 grandfathers 58% of the legal handguns in Canada. With the exception some which were manufactured prior to 1946, these guns will all be confiscated from their owners' estates. In addition to these handguns, approximately 30,000 semi-automatic rifles were prohibited, with up to 100,000 more scheduled for prohibition with the passage of the enabling legislation in C-68. These guns will also be confiscated when their owners die.
Senator, gun owners who believe that the government wants to register guns to facilitate future confiscation are not paranoid schizophrenics. We are merely students of history.
I have just finished reading a booklet from the Justice Department titled "Facts about the Firearm Bill". If this is indicative of what Mr. Rock regards as fact, then it is no wonder support for this legislation is dropping like a stone.
I am told "The registration system will be similar to drivers' licences and car ownership permits." Oh Really? When was the last time you heard of someone being sentenced to ten years in prison for possession of a car without license plates?
I am told "The system will be computerized, simple, and effective, saving firearms owners time and money." This is a curious claim, since it currently takes me no time, and costs me nothing.
I am told the cost to register ten guns will be ten dollars, or one dollar per gun. Yet the Justice Department's own figures show it now costs between eighty and one hundred and two dollars (depending on the Province) to register a restricted weapon. I am left wondering by what feat of magic Allan Rock is proposing to achieve this one hundred fold reduction in cost.
I am told "registration will help police solve crimes where firearms are recovered." In order for this to occur, criminals would first have to be dumb enough to register their gun. They would then have to compound this stupidity by using this registered gun in the commission of a crime. Finally, they would have to commit the incomprehensible blunder of leaving the gun at the scene of the crime. Even if this unlikely chain of events were to occur, the registered owner could always claim the gun had been stolen. At best, the recovery of a registered gun would provide the police with a probable suspect. Ministers from Australia's eight states met this summer to discuss Australian gun control. They admitted that over a twelve year period there had not been a single incident in the entire country where gun registration had helped solve or prevent a crime.
I am told registration will help police enforce prohibition orders. I don't think so. Prohibition orders are issued because the person in question has committed a crime, in other words, because he is a criminal. Yet even Mr. Rock admits criminals will not register their guns. So how will registration help enforce court orders when that group of people who receive the overwhelming majority of prohibition orders is the same group that will never register their guns in the first place?
There is much more, but I am running out of space. Please, when you examine this legislation, ignore all of the hyperbole and overheated rhetoric. I am convinced if you do this, you will come to the conclusion that C-68 is nothing but "feel good" legislation, that will ultimately cost us a fortune while accomplishing nothing.
Bill C-68 contains regulations and restrictions applicable to cross bows. Being unaware of any serious criminal problem with this class of device, I contacted my Member of Parliament to find out what the basis for this part of the proposed legislation was. His explanation was that the Right Honourable Jean Chretien himself had been menaced by some kook who was reportedly armed with a mini crossbow.
If this explanation is true (and I have no reason to believe that it is not) then this must surely raise the level of governmental capriciousness and personal fiat by an elected official to a new height. And to think Allan Rock and the Prime Minister have the gall to call hunters and gun collectors paranoid! The pot calls the kettle black.
I will leave you with a quote that hits the nail on the head. Not surprisingly it is from an American Supreme Court Justice, as the Americans have been going around and around for 200 years on the gun issue.
"Fear of assassination often produces restraints compatible with dictatorship, not democracy."
I am writing this letter to share with you my views on the right to bear arms in Canada, and how this relates to Bill C-68.
It is generally conceded by even the most rabid anti-gunners that Americans have a right to bear arms. In fact, most gun prohibitionists are eager to point this out, since they (incorrectly) blame the American homicide rate on the exercise of this right.
Canadians, they say, do not have a right to bear arms, because unlike the American model, our Constitution does not grant us this right. This line of reasoning demonstrates an inverted concept of where rights originate. The American Constitution does not grant any rights. It merely acknowledges the existence of rights that were already there. Americans have a right to bear arms because they have a right to defend themselves from criminal aggression and from governments gone berserk. Canadians have this right as well. It is just that our government will not admit it.
If we assume that rights are granted to citizens by governments, then we must necessarily conclude the slaughter of civilians in Tianamen Square was perfectly acceptable, since the Chinese government had not granted these people the right to demonstrate for democracy. We must also conclude the murder of six million Jews by the Nazis was legal, since the German government simply revoked their right to life. Fidel Castro's imprisonment of anyone with the temerity to criticize him is lawful, because the Cuban government has not granted the right of free speech.
This, of course, is nonsense. The Chinese have a right to demonstrate peacefully. German Jews have a right to life. Cubans have a right to criticize Fidel. Canadians have a right to bear arms. All people, everywhere, have the same rights. The only difference is the degree to which their governments acknowledge these rights.
Are we to align ourselves with those nations that recognize certain rights are inviolable, or will we side with those who profess that rights are dispensed (and revoked) by the state? I believe this is the decision the Senate must now make. Please study the implications of this Bill carefully before you decide.
Boys and girls raised in an environment which includes an adequate amount of proper instruction in firearms, grow up wiser, safer, and with a true respect for these tools. They learn that firearms are not playthings.
Each additional gun law in the past has made it increasingly expensive and difficult for many parents to teach their children how to safely handle the awesome power of firearms. The result is that after each round of new gun laws a larger and larger segment of our society grows up in fear and ignorance.
The next time you read or hear a news report about the tragic result of kids playing with firearms, ask yourself if it was caused by not enough legislation, or by too much.
P.S. Allan Rock himself is a product of this. He states that before he began to put his C-68 together he went to a range in order to fire a few shots. These few shots apparently now make him qualified enough to base the creation of a federal law costing millions of dollars.
Justice Minister Rock would have us believe that Bill C-68 is necessary to define ourselves as culturally distinct from Americans. Gun control, we are told, contributes to our status as a "kinder, gentler nation", and forms an important part of our cultural heritage.
I find the suggestion that governments can create culture by legislative fiat to be nothing short of bizarre. Do the French have a reputation as connoisseurs of fine wines because the French government holds their noses and pours wine down their throats? Do Italians eat pasta because they are forced to fill a state imposed spaghetti eating quota? True culture is sustained by voluntary participation. That which is imposed by government edict is coercion, not culture.
I also take exception to the suggestion that Canadian gun control laws have historically been much tougher than those in the United States. Prior to 1934, gun control in both Canada and the U.S. was virtually nonexistent. In that year Canada introduced legislation requiring handguns to be registered, while the Americans passed a law licensing full autos. Further legislation in Canada in 1969, which drastically reduced access to handgun carry permits, was matched by GCA 1968 in the U.S., which banned mail order sales. Americans have also been subjected to strict State and local ordinances, in places such as New York City and Washington D.C., while Canadians have not.
Gun control laws in Canada and the U.S. did not start to diverge significantly until 1978, when Pierre Trudeau introduced Firearms Acquisition Certificates. It is disingenuous to argue that the events of the last seventeen years form part of our cultural heritage, while pretending those of the previous one hundred and eleven are meaningless.
Senator, it is only China, Cambodia, and a few of the more militant Islamic nations that legislate cultural issues, then enforce this legislation with criminal code sanctions. Mr. Rock is afraid that without Bill C-68, we may become more like the United States. I am afraid that with it, we may become more like Iran.
A young person exposed to hunting or shooting club training prior to joining the army tends to make a better soldier. He is likelier to become a leader or instructor. He will probably serve Canada and himself better, in that he very likely has a better chance of surviving combat.
The great between-wars theorist of British military doctrine, who retired as Field Marshall Lord A.P. Wavell, told an army staff college group that the qualities ideal for the best infantryman would be "part poacher, part cat burglar, part gunman." He was, of course, referring to the technical knowledge and dash of those professions--not their ill concern for law and discipline!
Note Wavell's emphasis on two qualities related to shooting - poacher and gunman. Two out of his three consummate infantryman virtues were shooting skills learned in civilian life!
Bill C-68 (the proposed Firearms Act) and all its burdensome and costly regulation, licensing etc. will result in more and more of our young people growing up without even the slightest idea about firearms. Think of how this will affect the quality of the raw materials from which we recruit our armed forces.
I am writing to you to express my concern with Bill C-68. In the interest of brevity, I will restrict this letter to two points.
First, gun control does not work. All gun control laws are based on the dubious premise that a person who is not deterred by the penalties provided for murder, robbery, or rape, will somehow be deterred by gun control regulations. I think this is unlikely.
When pressed to provide evidence that the measures contained in C-68 will have some effect on crime, Allan Rock repeatedly responds with what might best be described as hearsay evidence. The Chiefs of Police told him it will work says Mr. Rock. Emergency room physicians say it will reduce accidents, he reiterates. I am amazed that evidence which would almost certainly be inadmissible in a Court of Law, is regarded with near veneration by Parliament. If Allan Rock has some proof this Bill will reduce crime, it is time he produced it.
The second point I would like to make deals with the suggestion that this legislation is necessary to distance ourselves from those "gun crazy Americans". Bill C-68 is all that is standing between us, and an American style vortex of robbery, murder, and random shootings, we are warned.
This is nonsense. This trick of comparing Canada to the United States (which gun control advocates do almost endlessly) is based on the assumption that the only significant difference between these two countries is the severity of their gun control laws. This is clearly not the case. The United States is the only major western nation with a large underclass composed primarily of visible minorities. It is in this part of the population that virtually all of their excess homicides take place. Black males aged 14-24 make up just 1.2% of the U.S. population, yet commit 30% of the murders. The fact that Canada enjoys a lower homicide rate than the U.S. has nothing to do with gun control. It is because we are much less densely urban, lack a significant black and Hispanic underclass, and have an older population.
Senator, all I am asking of you, is that you enter this debate with an open mind. In my experience, the only people who cannot be persuaded that it is futile to attempt to control crime by controlling guns, are those who have made up their minds before the discussion has started.
Dear Member of Provincial Parliament:
MY HOME IS MY CASTLE!
Please visit extremely close scrutiny upon the new federal gun legislation. The greatest danger in this most current of many firearms laws are the broad search powers (euphemistically called "inspections" by Allan Rock) given to the police. The new law grants to the police a judicial authority, yet the police are primarily an administrative and enforcement agency without the capacity or the background to make what have historically been judicial decisions.
Placing the authority to determine if and when a person's home is to be subject to a search for evidence of a regulatory offence upon the police alone, untempered by the opinion of a Justice of the Peace or judge is not consistent with section 8 of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
It is regrettable that emotional and ideological, rather than legal thinking has permitted this law to survive to reach enactment. A House of Commons and Senate less prone to party disciplinary pressure and social guidance from whining special interest groups would probably have split or rejected it entirely.
I suspect you are receiving numerous letters from concerned gun owners asking you to block Bill C-68. I too, am a concerned gun owner, but I am not asking you to stop this legislation. Instead, I am respectfully requesting that you do exactly what Mr. Chretien has suggested should be done: register guns the same way we register cars. Allow me to explain.
Motor vehicle registration is not mandatory for all cars. Half the fruit farms in the Niagara Peninsula have unregistered old pickups, or cars that have been converted to flatbed trucks. These vehicles need not be registered, provided they are used only on the farm. Competition cars, such as stock cars or drag racers do not have to be licensed, as long as they are transported to and from the track on a trailer. A collector car stored in a museum, or any car that is not driven, needs no license plates.
In addition, the motor vehicle registration system is run by the provinces. The maximum penalty for driving an unplated car is normally a fine, somewhere in the five hundred dollar range.
Accordingly, what I am suggesting is that the Senate should amend C-68 so that it conforms to this gun/car analogy Mr. Chretien uses constantly.
Registration exemptions should be provided for farmers who shoot only on their farms, competitive shooters who use their guns only at private clubs, and collectors who do not shoot at all. The registration system should be handed over to the provinces to administer. The maximum penalty for using an unregistered gun should be a five hundred dollar fine.
Senator, this comparison between the registration of guns and the registration of cars, is not something gun owners have dreamed up. It is an analogy Jean Chretien has borrowed from Wendy Cukier, the president of The Coalition for Gun Control. Please give them precisely what they have asked for.
Member of Provincial Parliament of Ontario:
As a result of a ministry of Labour decision, police forces in Ontario are all upgrading their service side arms from revolvers to semi-automatics. In a similar move, the RCMP is equipping its personnel with these new pistols nation wide. It is a safe prediction that by the year 2000 all police personnel in Canada will be so equipped. The manufacture and distribution of these new firearms is a multi million dollar industry employing thousands of workers.
The companies supplying these new pistols will be: Glock (Austria), Sig Sauer (Switzerland), Smith and Wesson (U.S.), Heckler and Koch (Germany), and Beretta (Italy). Notice that Canada is not represented in this list of manufacturers. This is because years and years of increasingly strict firearm laws have cheated us out of a home grown pistol manufacturing industry of our own.
Burdensome firearms legislation discourages people from jumping through all the hoops required to own and use firearms. Of those frustrated it is impossible to ascertain how many would have went one step further and become interested in firearm design and manufacture. It is also impossible to predict, but not to imagine, how many of those Canadians might have "built a better mouse trap"; perhaps a safer or more reliable pistol than is on the market now.
The current course of legislation retards future Canadian advances in small arms that our police and soldiers need to help them do their jobs better and live longer.
Please disallow Provincial enactment of the new firearm law.