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This essay was originally published in the Globe and Mail under the title "OFF TARGET"
by Dr. John Dixon
Dr. John Dixon is a B.C. philosopher and hunter.
He served, through 1991 and 1992, as senior advisor to (then)
Deputy Minister of Justice, Mr. John Tait
It is now widely understood that the government's gun control policy is a fiscal and administrative debacle. Its costs have reached levels that rival core services like national defence and health, and it doesn't work. What is not so widely understood is that the policy was never designed to control guns. It was designed to control Kim Campbell.
When Campbell was enjoying her brief season of success in her bid for re-election in the Summer campaign of 1993, Mr. Chretien was kept busy reassuring what he called the "Nervous Nellies" in his caucus. Campbell's star, he promised, would soon fall. One of the key elements of the Liberal plan to bring her down was a scheme to discredit her most considerable accomplishment as Minister of Justice, which was a tremendously ambitious package of gun control measures.
Those measures -- enacted in the wake of the Montreal Massacre - included new requirements for the training and certification of target shooters and hunters, new laws requiring the safe storage of firearms and ammunition -- which essentially brought every gun in the country under lock and key, new and stringent measures for the screening of applicants for firearms licenses, new measures to ensure that courts actively sought out information about firearms in cases of spousal assault, and a wide range of prohibitions of firearms that had no legitimate place in Canada's "field and stream" tradition of firearms use.
I was one of the Department of Justice officials involved in the gun control program, and when the legislative package passed in the House of Commons, Wendy Cukier and Heidi Rathgen supplied the champagne for a victory celebration at my home in Ottawa. Their Coalition for Gun Control group had played an important role in the consultation process, as had parents of victims, like the wonderful Suzanne LaPlante-Edwards.
So what were the Liberals to do, faced with a legislative accomplishment on this scale? Simple: pretend it didn't happen, and promise to do something so dramatic that it would make Campbell look soft on gun control. Given this prescription, the obvious policy choice was a universal firearms registry.
The idea of requiring the registration of every firearm in the country was not, of course, anything new. Governments love to have lists of things. Getting lists and maintaining them is a visible sign that the government is at work; and lists are always the indispensable first step to collectciting taxes and license fees. There is no "right to bear arms"(1) constitutional issue in Canada, as is at least arguably the case -- though it is a bad argument in the hands of the NRA -- in the United States.
So why not go for a universal gun registry? The short answer, arrived at by every study of the option in the Department of Justice, was that it would be ruinously expensive, and could actually yield a NEGATIVE public security result ....more on this in a moment. Indeed, Canada already had extensive experience e with firearms registries. We had two functioning systems of gun registration in 1992 -- the complete registry of all restricted firearms, such as handguns -- the ownership and use of which had been restricted since the 1930's, and a separate registry of ordinary firearms.
This latter registry, which started in the early 1970's, was a feature of the "firearms acquisition certificate" (or FAC) required by a person purchasing any firearm. Every firearm purchased from a dealer had to be registered to the FAC holder by the vendor, and the record of the purchase passed on to the R.C.M.P. in Ottawa. This meant that we were building up a cumulative registry of all of the guns in the country -- and their owners -- purchased since 1970.
The FAC system did not aspire to universality. It was a very Canadian -- i.e. sensible -- approach to the registration of ordinary hunting and target firearms. If you were a good 'ol boy from Camrose, Alberta, and didn't want to get involved, you didn't have to....as long as you didn't buy any more guns. Good old boys eventually die, of course, and younger people still active in the shooting sports would eventually all be enrolled in the system.
The value of the FAC registry was apparent to me when, in the wake of the Montreal Massacre, the Deputy Minister of Justice, Mr. John Tait, gave me the task of reviewing the gun control package under development. One of the things I immediately wanted to know was how many Ruger "Mini-14's" -- the gun used by the Montreal murderer -- were owned by Canadians. The Mini-14 came into production about the time of the introduction of the FAC requirement, so the FAC system could provide a fairly accurate picture of the gun's distribution in Canada.
But when I asked the firearms team to get the information from the R.C.M.P., it turned out that there were dozens of reasons we couldn't have it. The computers were down; the FAC information hadn't been entered yet; there weren't enough staff to process the request; there was a full moon; and on and on.
After a week of this I made it clear that I didn't want excuses, I wanted the records. At which time a very senior person sat me down and told me the truth. The R.C.M.P. had, for some time, stopped accepting FAC records, and had actually destroyed some that it already had in its possession. The FAC registry "system" did not exist because the police regarded it as useless, had refused to waste any of their limited budget on its maintenance, and had taken steps to ensure that their political masters could not order its resurrection.
This spectacular bit of bureaucratic vandalism on the part of the police persuaded my Deputy and his Minister that we should concentrate on developing compliance with affordable gun control measures that could work. A universal gun registry could only appeal to people who didn't care about costs or results, and who didn't understand what riled up the decent folks in Camrose.
Which is precisely why it appealed to the spin doctors putting together the Liberal Red Book for the pivotal 1993 election. If the object of the policy exercise was to appear to be "tougher" on guns than Campbell, it was crucial to advance a policy that would provoke legitimate gun-owners to outrage. Nothing would be more effective in convincing the urban Liberal constituency that Chretien and Rock were taking a tough line on guns than the spectacle of angry old men spouting politically disastrous fury on Parliament Hill.
Here is the supreme irony of the gun registry battle. The policy was selected BECAUSE it would goad people who knew something about guns and policy to public outrage. That is, it had a purely political purpose in the special context of a hard-fought election, and the fact that it was bad policy was actually crucial to the specific political effect it was supposed to deliver.
After one of the early firearm owners demonstrations in Ottawa, a member of the media commented to me that all she saw on Parliament Hill that day were "a lot of middle-aged men wearing tractor caps." True enough. But it would be as accurate, and much more important, to have seen a bunch of working family men whose first reflex was to respect and obey the laws of our country.
The political alienation and disaffection of this group is a far, far greater loss than the several hundreds of millions of dollars that have been wasted. The rolling over of the clock at the New Year introduced tens of thousands -- perhaps hundreds of thousands -- of decent Canadians to the dubious thrills of criminality.
The creation of this new criminal class -- the ultimate triumph of negative political alchemy -- will come to be understood as the worst, and most enduring, product of the gun registry culture war.
Note: 1- the the author assumed that there was not a right. secs 7, and 26 of the Charter. if he had done the researched he would have found that such a right exists.
Now one might quibble with the language used. It seems to suggest that the only rights Canadians have are the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Charter. Surely this is not the case. s. 26 stands for that. The casual downgrading of a right held dear by many right thinking Canadians to a privilege without any principled analysis of the situation has done much to heat the debate before me. (Justice Wright R v Montague)
Do you get the feeling that We have been had?...Two billion plus dollars could have been put to better use than giving the then Government the appearance of doing something about crime. To paraphrase Police Chief Julian Fantino, The registry has not been used to solve a single crime nor has it prevented a single crime.
In England a very tragic loss of life saw the outlawing of pistols and revolvers. It took one man to move a government to ban them. Negating at minimum 1200 years of English Common Law and the 300 years of the English Bill of Rights. Richardl Munday is a journalist who has written at length of the folly of this new law..I leave you to his words
Bill of Rights
On the day the government announced its handgun ban proposals, newspapers reported that a carriage full of passengers on a London commuter train had been held up by armed robbers, one wielding a pistol. It underscored the limited relevance of measures direcited against licensed gun owners (the Home Office has identified two crimes a year in which legally held pistols are used, whilst the police estimate that some 2,500 illegal guns enter the country every week).(1) It underlined further the old wisdom of the Scottish MP Andrew Fletcher, who observed three centuries ago that "he that is armed, is always master of the purse of him that is unarmed".(2)
That is an unfashionable wisdom today. The Home Office advised Lord Cullen that "as a matter of policy" UK law did not permit the citizen any weapon for his defence.(3) Apparently, the Home Office had forgotten the Bill of Rights.
The Bill of Rights of 1689, which is still in force as statute law and remains our central constitutional document,(4) guarantees only two rights of the individual, and one of these - the ultimate surety, according to Blackstone, of the subject's other liberties - is the right to arms. It was not arms for target shooting that the Bill of Rights guaranteed, but arms for the citizen's personal defence.
Perhaps the Home Office forgot the Bill of Rights because the arms clause appears at first sight to be hedged about qualification. It declares: "That the Subjects that are Protestants, may have Arms for their Defence suitable to their Condition, and as allowed by Law". Upon investigation, however, the three apparent caveats prove insubstantial. The right of Protestants to arms was affirmed because it was they who had been disarmed "contrary to the Law" after the Restoration: but the right to defensive weapons was not restricted to them, as was made clear by another Act of the same year recalling the same right for Catholics.(5) The wording suitable to their condition reflected the Bill of Rights' appeal to ancient usage (for the Bill did not seek to create rights, but to reaffirm immemorial principles of common law): the context was that of the assizes of arms which served as a sort of martial medieval income tax, indexing the weaponry the state could levy from the subject. Constitutional commentary and case law would later confirm that this condition could not be construed to exclude "people in the ordinary class of life" (Rex v. Dewhurst, 1820). The third apparent caveat in the clause, permitting arms as are allowed by Law, was perhaps no constraint at all: in affirming the heritage of common law, the Bill of Rights reiterated a refrain of complaints against misdeeds "contrary to Law" or "against the Law", and "according to Law" should arguably be seen in the same linguistic context. If it was a caveat at all, it was a circumstantial one relating to the laws against poaching and bearing arms in terrorem populi, to terrorise the public.(6) Again, case law upheld the Bill of Rights provision in both these contexts. In the eighteenth century, for instance, we find repeatedly that the possession of a dog can be held prima facie as evidence of intent to poach, whereas a gun could be possessed under like circumstances legitimately for self defence;(7) and even an Irishman carrying a loaded revolver in the street in 1914 was ruled not to be committing an offence in terrorem populi.(8)
When Britain introduced her first Firearms Act in 1920, the Bill of Rights provision was respected: the normal "good reason" for the issue of a licence for a pistol was self defence. This remained the case following the Firearms Act 1937; a change of policy was only indicated when the Home Secretary stated in October 1946 that he would "not regard the plea that a revolver is wanted for protection of an applicant's person or property as necessarily justifying the issue of a firearm certificate".(9) Perhaps because applicants were advised that other "good reasons" were open to them, this shift of policy went unchallenged. But if the right to weapons for defence fell in abeyance. it was not thereby extinguished: In 1913 it had been ruled in Bowles v. Bank of England that "the Bill of Rights still remains unrepealed, and practice of custom, however prolonged, or however acquiesced in on the part of the subject can not be relied on by the Crown as justifying any infringement of its provisions".
It might be argued that the first attempt to introduce firearms legislation that really intrenches upon the Bill of Rights does not specifically refer to pistols, it could be contended that at least until 1946 their selection as weapons of defence was regarded as natural, and that where arms are carried for that purpose today (eg. police on protection duties, or individuals specially authorized to carry personal protection weapons) pistols still remain the norm. Moreover if pistols are prohibited, it might be asked what weapons the subject is now permitted under the Bill of Rights to posses for his defence. According to the Home Office's advice to Lord Cullen, "as a matter of policy" the subject is allowed none. Does this policy mean that public servants are being incited to break the law by denying the subject his statutory rights?
Faced with embarrassment, the government might rely on the doctrine that no parliament may be bound by its predecessors, and seek if necessary to repeal the provisions of the Bill of Rights. But in so doing they must attack the principle of the Bill: for the Bill of Rights claimed not to promulgate anything new, but rather to reaffirm the "true ancient and indubitableable rights and liberties of the people of this Kingdom" that should be upheld "in all times to come". Against this the government must set the view of parliamentary sovereignty expressed most eloquently by Dicey a century ago, that would allow them to "make or unmake any law whatever".(10) Dicey denied that "constitutional" laws were special,(11) though interestingly his illustration of this looked at the Acts of Union rather than the Bill of Rights,(12) and since he wrote, we have seen parliament once again accept the notion of higher law. The doctrine of parliamentary supremacy has, indeed, had a chequered history. Sixty years before the Bill of Rights, the doctrine was affirmed (not without political motivation) by Sir Edward Coke, who declared that the power of parliament "cannot be confirmed", and recorded the failures of the attempts of earlier parliaments to bind their successors.(13) This did not deter parliament in 1689 from enacting the Bill of Rights, any more than the doctrine enunciated by Dicey prevented parliament binding its successors under Section 2 of the European Communities Act 1972.(14) Perhaps, in the unlikely event that the European Union survives for the next three hundred years and its rulings do not in the meantime conflict with UK law, a future constitutional lawyer will once again assert the absolute supremacy of parliament, because it has not been tested. The situation might then be analogous with the Bill of Rights now: for though the Bill has been revised in matters of procedure, the thirteen essential principles of the Declaration of Rights that were supposed to be upheld "for all time to come" still stand.
The absolute sovereignty of parliament was perhaps always something of a legal fiction: constructive as a fiction, but potentially destructive, even of its own ultimate purpose, as a reality. Blackstone allowed in theory that parliament could act with omnipotence even to the ruin of the country, and recalled Montesquieu's prediction that even as Rome and Sparta and Carthage had lost their liberty and perished, so in time would England at the hands of her legislature; but in reality he did not think this would come to pass.(15) He believed that there were natural rights upon which government could not legitimately encroach.(16) Dicey, too, allowed in theory that parliament could do anything that was not "naturally impossible", but in practice saw that it was constrained by political realities.(17) He was less sanguine, perhaps, than was Blackstone about those constraints: and he looked to the introduction of the referendum as an external check on the exercise of arbitrary power by parliament.(18) In the seventy years since Dicey's death the concerns he expressed have grown. In 1950 Craik-Henderson reflected on how the changing composition of the House of Commons with the emergence of the paid career politician had established really a Cabinet rule, in a "servile but supreme parliament".(19) The dangers were no longer theoretical: parliament, whose central purpose had been to check arbitrary government, could now be its tool.(20)
The question whether parliament can now override the Bill of Rights, is at once the question whether it is proper for it to do so. The Bill of Rights set out the claims of parliament as part of the constitutional framework of legitimate rule, in ignoring which it declared that Restoration governments had acted unlawfully. The twin pillars of that framework were the old principle of government by common counsel, in which our notion of parliamentary sovereignty is founded; and the ancient yardstick of custom, in which our notion of precedent, and therewith of the rule of law, is rooted. These enduring constitutional precepts were not merely the whim of 1689.
Unfashionable though it might now be, the arms provision of the Bill of Rights was also no passing foible. The common law right it expressed was, indeed, as old as English history itself.(21) It was enumerated by Blackstone as the final safeguard of the subject's other rights, for "in vain would these rights be declared, ascertained, and protested by the dead letter of the laws, if the constitution provided no other method to ensure their actual enjoyment".(22) In recourse "to vindicate these rights, when actually violated or attacked, the subjects of England are entitled, in the first place, to the regular administration and free course of justice in the courts of law; next, to the right of petitioning the king and parliament for redress of grievances; and lastly, to the right of having and using arms for self-preservation and defence".(23) A hundred years later, Dicey's contemporary James Paterson would still remark that "in all countries where personal freedom is valued, however much each individual may rely on legal redress, the right of each to carry arms - and these the best and the sharpest - for his own protection in case of extremity, is a right of nature indelible and irrepressible..."(24) It was not merely a theoretical right. In a material rather than a cinematographic sense, British society was much more a "gun culture" in the early years of this century than it is today. Conan Doyle's Dr Watson dropping his revolver into his pocket before walking the London streets indeed illustrated what was then a commonplace. The "Tottenham Outrage" of 1909 presents a telling vignette of the reality of that time:(25) pursuing the perpetrators of an attempted wages robbery across north London, the police borrowed four pistols from passers-by; other armed citizens fulfilled what Dicey still recognized as legal obligation of the subject to halt felons by joining in the chase themselves.(26) Today we might be shocked by such a thought; Londoners then were apparently more shocked by the idea of an armed robbery. In the years before the First World War, when anyone could purchase a pistol, total firearms crime in the metropolis ran at less than fortieth of that today.(27)
Come forward to 1946, when the Home Office decided that self-defence would no longer necessarily be a "good reason" for a pistol licence, and we find that armed robbery, the most significant index of serious armed crime, totalled 25 incidents in London. Today we have that number every two weeks.(28) Over the past thirty years, as enforcement policies have steadily reduced the number of legal firearms in circulation, firearms crime has risen lockstep. In 1979 Professor Harding at Oxford warned that further gun controls might prove "counter-productive",(29) and criminologists in a number of countries have since then argued that reducing the levels of legitimate firearms ownership might actually promote crime.(30)
Perhaps, if the House of Lords pauses to remember the Bill of Rights during the deliberation on the current Firearms Bill, its members might address those unfashionable considerations. They might note that even today in Britain, Home Office figures (not shown to Lord Cullen) indicate that in constabulary areas where legal firearms ownership is higher, armed crime is lower: and that this is still true if one factors out differences between town and country and looks at the proportion of offences committed with guns.(31) They might remember too the wisdom of that father of penal reform, Cesare Beccaria, who wrote centuries ago.
"False is the idea of utility that sacrifices a thousand real advantages for one imaginary or trifling inconvenience; that would take fire from men because it burns, and water because one may drown in it; that has no remedy for ills, except destruction. The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Can it be supposed that those who have the courage to violate the most sacred laws of humanity, the most important of the code, will respect the less important and arbitrary ones, which can be violated with ease and impunity, and which, if strictly obeyed, would put an end to personal liberty - so dear to men, so dear to the enlightened legislator - and subject innocent persons to all the vexations that the guilty alone ought to suffer? Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man. They ought to be designated as laws not preventive but fearful of crimes, produced by the tumultuous impression of a few isolated facts, and not by thoughtful consideration of the inconvenience and advantages of a universal decree."(32)
England is an Island State, they are powerless to stop the flow of illegal firearms into their Nation. Crime has hit all time highs, so much so I understand that the home office is being accused of fudging the crime stats or just not showing the whole picture any more. The Home Secretary in a publicity walking tour to prove the streets are "safe" was seen wearing a bullet proof vest. For centuries the police of England have been unarmed save but their truncheon, today they are undergoing firearms training for their new side arms.
If banning handguns is the answer to crime. Then why now do previously unarmed Police in England need to be armed now?
I came to Ottawa last year, with the firm belief that.Only the Police and Military should have firearms...Allan Rock Minister of Justice.
Allan Rock what can be said of Mr Rock? Some would see him as a crusader and an able politician. Other might see him as an opportunist looking for the next cause to further his career. In my own opinion I see him as an opportunist and a crusader. Again in my own opinion I liken a crusader to a fireman, they both rush in where others would not and leave a big mess behind. As for able politician? He survived in Jean Chretien's Cabinet however he did get moved from department to department. If I had to venture a guess he was being promoted to his level of incompetence. But that is only my opinion.
Mr Rock was the Minister of Justice when the ill crafted Bill C-68 (The now Firearms act) was brought into law. With the stroke of the Governor Generals pen 7 million Canadians effectively became criminals. Why because they owned a firearm. I say effectively only because there was a period of time in which firearms owners could bring themselves into compliance with the law. It should be noted that bringing in a law is a lengthy process, it must pass 3 readings in 2 houses and go through 2 committee hearings. With normal laws this process fine tunes it and makes it acceptable for the citizens and in compliance with the Charter as best it can. In the committees stake holders are allowed in-put into the law but not necessarily are their considered opinions considered. Such was the case with Bill C-68 (aka bill c-10) it passed through both houses with no changes allowed. There were many stake holders involved in the process. I would like to point out a key player, Bill Tomlinson of the National Firearms Association (NFA) He gave a very reasoned analysis of of the highly flawed Bill, that became a highly flawed and expensive law (Design failures bill C -68).
The NFA is a private organization, funded entirely by its membership. Where as the The Canadian Coalition For Gun Control is publicly funded through our tax dollars to lobby our Government. This situation to my thinking makes the playing field un-level and advantages one organization over another. I have always liked to believe we in Canada have a sense of "Fair Play" I for one have a serious problem when any Government of Canada which pays someone to lobby its self (the government). It gives a very unfair advantage to one group, in that the publicly funded organization has the ability to buy very costly advertising that is beyond the normal reach of the privately funded one. It then requires the privately funded organization to turn to its members to pony up more money to get its message out. With my Canadian sense of fair play in action, I believe it is proper then to fund both or neither. You can't give to one lobby when it suits your purpose then deny the countering lobby because it doesn't. Further it is equally wrong to threaten a lobby with sanctions. It is rumoured that Ducks Unlimited was threatened to stay out of the debate, lest they loose their funding and charitable status.
In Canada there are several organizations dedicated to the preservation of our Ancient Right. The list includes The Canadian Shooting Sports Association, Canadian Institute for Legislative Action (which are connected to one another CSSA/CILA) and Canadian Unlicensed Firearms Owners Association (CUFOA) , Law-Abiding Unregistered Firearms Association (LUFA ) a side note about LUFA is that its founder is a retired RCMP officer,
''It's time for Canadians to stand up to government and say, 'This is an unjust and immoral law, and we're not going to obey it,' '' said R. Bruce Hutton, a former officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police who founded a group called the Law-Abiding Unregistered Firearms Association. Since its first meeting in November, the group has grown to 7,000 members, mostly in the west.
And to demonstrate this is just not an old boys club Ms Claire Joly and " Women and Gun Control" This is a short list of organizations who wish to stop the erosion of our rights. We do not have a single voice in Canada like the NRA in the U.S. and the NRA is not involved in Canadian Politics.
The Firearms Act is a very complicated piece of legislation. Its implementation has cost WE the tax payer in excess of 2 billion dollars. I ask is this money well spent? Has it curbed gun crime? Has it increased public safety? Is there even a connection between Gun Control and Crime? Has the sacrifice of rights of law-abiding people been a reasonable restriction in the pursuit of security? The summer of 2005 was dubbed "The Summer of The GUN" in the media I would point out this happened while the Firearms Act was in full force. I have spent hours pouring over statistics and reports till my eyes have crossed. I have drawn my own conclusions in a reasoned logical manner and I would not deny you my loyal reader the same right. Dr Gary Mauser of Simon Fraser University has studied the FireArms Act in depth. He has published papers in peered reviewed journals. I would leave it to his work to make the case on statistics
Dr Gary Mauser.
Canada's Gun Registry
Gun control around the world
Bowling for Columbine
But they are just TOO Dangerous!!!
I have heard that stated many times. But consider that it is an inanimate object, no different than a car. It requires human interaction to become remotely dangerous. I think that the reason many people are afraid of firearms is the great lack of understanding that exist about them. Hollywood has contributed to many misconceptions and added a certain mystique to them. News media has driven home hard the effects of gun violence and misuse. Police agencies both in Canada and the U.S. are first hand witnesses to the destructive power of firearms. Both have expressed serious concern over unrestricted ownership. However there is a difference in the U.S. written in their Constitution and Bill of Rights is the 2nd Amendment. Clearly stating that the citizen has a right to keep and bear arms. For this reason we need to look at the United States. The U.S. has taken the opposite approach of Canada. Many individual states have instituted a "Shall issue" policy of concealed carry permits, slackened previously restrictive laws. In these same States crime dropped dramatically. (Gun Control Around The World)
We in Canada seem to view the U.S. collectively without discerning from one state to the next, we see them as all the same. That is not true however each State is Soveriene with different points of view California which is a very relaxed and easy going State has some of the strictest gun control measures in the U.S. oddly enough it has among the highest of gun crime rates in the U.S. . New York, in particular New York City has the absolute tightest controls on handguns it is seen as one of the most dangerous cities in the U.S. (that dubious title does shift one year to the next). Washington DC The National Capitol had an out right ban on hand guns, required long guns to be disassembled and trigger locked, it became the Murder Capitol of the U.S.
How is that possible? Handguns were banned. Gun Control is a poor substitute for Crime Control. Kennesaw, a Town in Georgia passed a by-law requiring every resident to own a fire arm. Surprisingly they have the lowest crime rate in the Country. How is that possible? I think it comes down to self preservation. If I were a criminal I don't think it is worth getting shot for the possible gain in breaking and entering a residence. A virtually unknown fact is that nearly 2 million times a year an armed law-abiding citizen has thwarted a crime from happening by the mere presence of their side arm, rarely has anyone needed to fire a single shot.
For many people the mere thought of the United States of America conjures some very strong negative emotions. However it is folly to define ourselves as Canadians simply by saying "We Are Not Americans". No indeed we are not. As Canadians we have a very strong moral compass, we also have a unique sense of fair play. We are well mannered by in large, we respect our fellow man and tend to let cooler heads prevail. Would that be a fair characterization of WE CANADIANS? Why do we think, that changes all of a sudden just because we have firearms? We send our troops on peace keeping missions and despite the awesome fire power in their hands our sons and daughters do not loose their heads and start killing everything in sight. No indeed. quite the contrary we are respected for our unique Canadian qualities. Our troops are just ordinary people like you or I, who have done some extraordinary things in the service of our Country.
It is not the tool but the use that makes it dangerous. If firearms are dangerous to the degree we are lead to believe why then do doctors pay far more for their liability insurance. Where as a firearms owner pays a paltry 8 dollars per year for a million dollars worth of liability insurance. The insurance actuaries found that firearms owners to be among the safest people. Since insurance companies make their money by assessing risk and basically betting their money that they won't have to make a pay out.
I have come to the conclusion after much research and have found that it is FEAR that is at the root of this belief. This fear has caused many of us to make irrational decisions when it come to the firearms debate. To the point of actually making the streets less safe and making the ability to defend one's self as impractical as could be. Even when faced with a mountain of evidence discrediting "Gun Control" policies some will irrationaly cling to myths and say "No one Needs guns"
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security
Yet even with this knowledge in our unique Canadian way have limited our ability to do so. We have come to a point in time where being a victim is far nobler than being alive or safe? Which leads to the question. How is it more noble for a woman to be found naked and dead in a ditch some where? Where is the dignity in that?. Or having to go through the indignity of a forensics exam after a rape. Then have to relive that experience on the witness stand followed by the months, years of counseling learning to live with that experience. I am told that it never goes away. With that, I, as a male will not be party to or in support there of any Act of Government that would render another human being defenceless. The Firearms Act has done this very thing.
Not all men are created equal, though philosophically we are. The truth is we come in all different shapes and sizes. With different abilities and strengths. To say that a man can defend himself is quite inaccurate. Some men are just bigger and stronger than others, that is a fact of life. So why then is it acceptable for a smaller weaker man to be the prey of the bigger and stronger?
I submit that it is the duty of every citizen to deny the street thug easy prey. Further I contend that it is the duty of Governments to deny the criminal an easy life of crime. How then do we do our duty? We do our duty by keeping that ancient public allowance of citizens to be armed for their defence. We deny the criminal easy access to arms themselves. We as citizens do everything in our powers to assist police in their duties. This is not vigilanteism this is good citizenship.
Current Laws are more than adequate!
As I have stated in the The Nanny Cometh that if you look closely enough, there is already a law that covers a particular problem. Firearms is no exception. In the Criminal Code of Canada we have outlined a series of acts which are prohibited. Among those acts are murder, manslaughter, assault, rape, armed robbery, kidnapping and forcible confinement or the attempt there of. If these acts are already illegal how does a license and a registry prevent them? How would banning firearms change the ability of one to commit these forbidden acts? The cold hard answer is it will not. In fact banning firearms would embolden criminals because they now have a Government guarantee that we are unarmed and defenceless. Even if you could make every firearms vanish from the country the average criminal would not be disarmed. Back before street gangs had the money from drug trafficking they were able fashion crude guns, these were known on the street as "zip guns". As you can see the ease by which a gun can be made. The ammunition can also be easily smuggled as guns are today.
As the Old saying goes "Where there is a will, there is a way".
The Reserved Right
Sir William listed five auxiliary subordinate Rights. In context there is nothing subordinate about them. In reading the leading paragraph that precede these rights his meaning becomes clear. The eighteenth century verbiage takes several reads and some reflections to take full advantage of how it was intended. Simply because we just don't write like that anymore.
In the three preceding articles we have taken a short view of the principal absolute rights which appertain to every Englishman. But in vain would these rights be declared, ascertained, and protected by the dead letter of the laws, if the constitution had provided no other method to secure their actual enjoyment. It has therefore established certain other auxiliary subordinate rights of the subject, which serve principally as barriers to protect and maintain inviolate the three great and primary rights, of personal security, personal liberty, and private property. These are,
His intent was not to make these rights lessor in stature nor of less importance. No indeed, his intent and context was to show them as The Reserved Rights. Rights who's sole existence is to keep power in check. Whether that power was a King who had lost control of his faculties, a Government which had become drunk on its own omnipotence, or the lone individual faced with death at the hands of a miscreant. It is these rights that are the shield and guarantor that all other rights can be preserved and enjoyed.
The last right that he wrote of was not last because it was least important. No indeed, he saved it for last, Sir William believed that the system should work and be allowed to work. This last right is the Reserved Right of last resort when all else fails.
5. The fifth and last auxiliary right of the subject, that I shall at present mention, is that of having arms for their defense, suitable to their condition and degree, and such as are allowed by law. Which is also declared by the same statute (I) W. & M. st.2. c. 2. and is indeed a public allowance, under due restrictions, of the natural right of resistance and self-preservation, when the sanctions of society and laws are found insufficient to restrain the violence of oppression.
Sir William Blackstone
He did not specify firearms rather he left it generic meaning all or any arms, whether those arms are sticks and stones or the most modern and up to date. In his time the flintlock was the standard firearm, to say that he could not envision better in the time to come would be selling Sir Williams intellect short. But that is not as important as the phrase "as allowed by law". Some have taken this to mean that Parliament could pass future restrictions but this is not the case. In this instance it confirms that the law already allowed such. The next phrase "under due restrictions", one might think that Sir William was in favour of "Arms Control". I don't believe that to be true, I believe him to be a pragmatist. A man of common sense who believed in the inherent goodness of his fellow man. Further I am certain that said restriction refered to acts of self defence themselves and not the tool employed. I can say this is supported by his closing paragraphs
In these several articles consist the rights, or, as they are frequently termed, the liberties of Englishmen: liberties more generally talked of, than thoroughly understood; and yet highly necessary to be perfectly known and considered by every man of rank or property, lest his ignorance of the points whereon it is founded should hurry him into faction and licentiousness on the one hand, or a pusillanimous(1) indifference and criminal submission on the other. And we have seen that these rights consist, primarily, in the free enjoyment of personal security, of personal liberty, and of private property. so long as these remain inviolate, the subject is perfectly free; for every species of compulsive tyranny and oppression must act in opposition to one or other of these rights, having no other object upon which it can possibly be employed.
To preserve these from violation, it is necessary that the constitution of parliaments be supported in its full vigor; and limits certainly known, be set to the royal prerogative. And, lastly, to vindicate these rights, when actually violated or attacked, the subjects of England are entitled, in the first place, to the regular administration and free course of justice in the courts and law; next to the right of petitioning the king and parliament for redress of grievances; and lastly to the right of having and using arms for self-preservation and defense. And all these rights and liberties it is our birthright to enjoy entire; unless where the laws of our country have laid them under necessary restraints. Restraints in themselves so gentle and moderate, as will appear upon farther inquiry, that no man of sense or probity would wish to see them slackened. For all of us have it in our choice to do everything that a good man would desire to do; and are restrained from nothing, but what would be pernicious either to ourselves or our fellow citizens. So that this review of our situation may fully justify the observation of a learned French author, who indeed generally both thought and wrote in the spirit of genuine freedom;(48) and who has not scrupled to profess, even in the very bosom of his native country, that the English is the only nation in the world, where political or civil liberty is direct end of its constitution. Recommending therefore to the student in our laws a farther and more accurate search into this extensive and important title, I shall close my remarks upon it with the expiring wish of the famous father Paul to his country, "ESTO PERPETUA!" ["ENDURE FOREVER!"] 1-pusillanimous -Lacking courage or resolution; cowardly faint of heart. 2, proceeding from or indicating a cowardly spirit.
To put it subcintly "Good men do not need the restraint of law to act in a responsible manner". Criminalizing 7 million people or outlawing their property is not gentle restraint, Indeed it is an act befitting Adolf Hiltler. Who indeed did criminalized segments of the population of his Country and made demons of them. Consider the words of Allan Rock they echo the words of every tyrant in history and have created our worst "Police States". It was true in 1689 as it is today, standing armies are dangerous to freedom and our liberties. If you really think about it we in Canada have 2 standing armies, one is obvious and the second is only now becoming apparent. Our men in blue have slowly been outfitted in combat gear and what used to be a simple knock on the door of private citizens has escalated into full military like assaults.
I believe that I have given a full accounting of our Right as Canadians to defend ourselves. Further I believe that we are entitled to the means to that end. We could never employ enough Police Constables to restrain every criminal nor prevent every crime. Our brave leaders have sold us a bill of goods, a false sense of security. Lest we forget the wise words of Benjiman Franklin "he that would sacrifice liberty for a little security, deserves neither liberty nor security." To those that believe we ought to be disarmed, we must say criminals first. until such time we must reserve the rights we are guaranteed. We must preserve " The Right To Keep arms in our defence.