This past weekend the MWF received an email from the Honourable William Blair – Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction asking for the MWF’s views in writing on the Discussion Paper entitled Reducing Violent Crime: A dialogue on handguns and assault weapons.
A brief synopsis of the document states that the Government of Canada “has committed to get handguns and assault rifles off our streets”. Minister Blair is the person tasked with leading the examination of a ban on handguns and assault weapons while “not impeding the lawful use of firearms by Canadians”.
The problem with Minister Blair’s current task is acknowledged in the very document, “Any ban of handguns or assault weapons would primarily affect legal firearms owners”. His logic being that with less legal firearms available, by proxy that would impact the illicit market because there would be less firearms on the streets.
Further into the document Blair identifies theft, straw purchasing and firearms smuggling as significantly contributing to illicit firearms on the streets. In a nutshell, illegal activities by criminals are causing illegal firearms to become illegally available to other criminals… illegally….Surely you see the issue here.
Further, by targeting legally owned hand guns and restricted long guns (Not Assault Weapons, a misnomer and scare tactic that we’ll touch on shortly), the Federal Government is targeting the most vetted and secure group of firearms owners in the country. A group that must pass with a minimum of 80%, bearing in mind that not all questions are created equally. For example, if someone fails to identify an FMJ (full metal jacket) cartridge they may get docked a point. If they are unsafe in handling the decommissioned firearm in class, it is an automatic fail. This is as it should be.
This same group is also expected to send their test results to the RCMP with the completed application that includes a criminal background check as well as character references. To be clear, the RCMP DOES call and check references. What’s more, the RCMP do constant and continuing eligibility checks on Possession and Acquisition licensee’s to ensure that they are still considered no threat of violence.
Only if the applicant, (who incidentally must also go through standard non-restricted firearms training) meets all of the requirements and successfully jumps through all the hoops, will they be granted permission and liecense to purchase a restricted firearm. (Although they must also be a current pistol range member and apply for Authorization to Transport) to actually then go and purchase a restricted firearm.
Cleary these people are not the problem. And in fact, it has been shown that a majority of gun violence is the product of gangs. In 2016, Statistics Canada showed 223 firearms related homicides, with 141 of those being committed by gangs (http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-002-x/2017001/article/54879-eng.htm). So why is the Federal Government targeting law abiding citizens instead of violent gang members?
The second part of the document deals with “assault weapons”, which Blair admits is “not a legally defined term.” Blair the quotes the US department of Justice definition as “assault weapons are semi-automatic firearms with a large magazine of ammunition that were designed and configured for rapid fire.” Canada does not have a legal definition. Why not?
Likely because the term cannot and does not apply to most of the firearms that are already desigated as prohibited or restricted. Let’s look at the definition starting with “semi-automatic”.
Many firearms are semi-automatic. Look at the non-restricted Benelli R1. A non-threatening looking hunting rifle that meets every standard of falling under non-restricted classification, or the Ruger Mini 14. Also, a non-restricted semi auto rifle. These are two of hundreds of semi – automatic firearms that are perfectly legal to use for hunting.
The next part of the definition includes a “large magazine of ammunition”. Current legislation states that a semi-automatic firearm’s “maximum magazine capacity is 5 cartridges for most magazines.” Further, “A large-capacity magazine is not prohibited if it has been permanently altered so that it cannot hold more than the number of cartridges allowed by law. Acceptable ways to alter a magazine are set out in the regulations.” What do you know, there are already laws in place restricting magazine capacity, and guidelines on how to restrict high capacity magazines to be useable under Canadian law.
Finally, in regards to the US Department of Justice definition states “designed and configured for rapid fire”. This section of definition is completely moot as well given that the Canadian Firearms Program already lists automatic firearms as “prohibited”. Again, no regular Canadian Citizen outside of those very few that possessed a fully automatic firearm before they were classified as prohibited are allowed to own or be in possession of an automatic firearm.
So, what is an assault weapon? It appears as though the Honourable William Blair, nor the rest of the Government have a clue what is and what should be classified as an assault weapon. If the Governement can’t even make that decision how can they possibly take in to consideration a ban on something so undefinable (to them)?
A small part of the problem is that “assault weapons” look “aggressive” and “military”. Let’s go ahead and address that nonsense right now.
Since the creation of the firearm, most technological and mechanical advances to improve firearm systems have come from the military. Designed just before the Civil War and put into service throughout, the 1860 Henry Rifle and the 1860 Spencer Carbine lever action were used by US cavalry men. Referred to as “that damn yankee rifle you load on Sunday and shoot all week”, the lever action along with the ubiquitous .30-.30 round found its way into the hands of sportsmen and civilians quickly becoming known as the gun that won the West. A firearm designed for military applications but championed by sportsmen for sporting and hunting uses. Hmm this sounds familiar already.
Next let’s look at the bolt action rifle. First built in the early part of the 19thcentury, the technology was adapted and improved upon for many years. Modern bolt action rifles such as the Lee-Enfield and the Mosin – Nagant saw action in both World Wars. Rugged, Reliable and Accurate, Bolt action rifles replaced the lever action on the battlefield and then… *GASP, found their way into the hands of sportsmen. Again, a military firearm championed by sportsmen for sporting and hunting uses. Why? Because law abiding hunters and sportsmen saw the benefits and advantages to a more powerful and accurate firearm and projectile. It’s comforting knowing that a well-placed and ethical shot taken against a game animal, causes minimal suffering to the animal and a quicker kill all the while ensuring the game animal drops close to where it was shot, easily recoverable and ultimately feeding the family of the hunter.
Finally, the dreaded “semi-automatic” rifle became prevalent at the beginning of World War II with the M1 Garand. Near the end of the war the Russians introduced the SKS. Both of these semi-automatic rifles were nearly as accurate as most bolt action firearms however they were quicker, allowing for a quicker follow up shot… and then what do you know? Sportsmen got their hands on the semi-automatic rifle and liked the fact that you could place a quick follow up shot on a game animal, further reducing the instances of wounded animals being lost and/or wasted.
Today, we have sporting rifles (assault weapons for the less educated masses and the Federal Government for some reason). A semi-automatic firearm that is modular to allow for the quick addition of optics in the form of scopes, red dot reticle style sights or even iron sights. These scary firearms also generally come equipped with an adjustable stock for custom fit and are very accurate. Once again, seeing the advantage of an accurate weapon that is customizable to fit the reach of any sportsman, with the built-in ability to put high quality optics on it, sportsmen were quick to adopt the….. oh wait. They weren’t.
Well why not? The simplest answer lies in the way the firearm looks. Black on black with polymer stocks and built in bases to aid the easy mounting of various optics, these firearms look aggressive. They don’t have the wooden stocks or warm blued finishes of firearms most associated with hunting. Because of this look the Canadian Government has deemed them assault weapons and has busily been working behind the scenes to create an outright ban on something based solely on its looks, but not everything… but some things… but not for the reasons you think… confused? Good. That’s how the laws have been written. To suggest that the Government and the RCMP aren’t already targeting law abiding gun owners would be a grave disservice.
To further restrict law abiding firearms owners, sportsmen, hunters and sports shooters won’t solve the problem of gun violence, but it will make more criminals.
All of the necessary laws are in place. Illicit handguns and Illicit ‘assault weapons” are already illegal… so how can you make them more illegal? (Super illegal? Double secret illegal??)
The very first thing the Government needs to do is clarify and simplify the firearms laws that are already in place. Let’s lose the restricted designation on sporting firearms that meet the non-restricted criteria (ie most of them) and stop making laws based on the way something looks. This is no different than painting a spoon black and calling it an assault spoon. Or putting a picatinny rail on a stapler and then referring to it as an assault stapler. Cargo pants on an infant – an assault infant, tactical toilet paper? What’s next??
Stop targeting law abiding Canadians through draconian, inconsistent and asinine laws and instead focus on heavier penalties for straw purchases or smuggling. How about education? Let’s tackle gang violence, poverty and ignorance… you know, the root causes of violent crime….
If illegal firearms are coming over the border, how about tighter border security in regards to illegal firearms?
Before receiving this request for comment, an online engagement survey has been floated with an end date of November 10, 2018 to the general public. To say this survey is deeply flawed and in fact a “push poll”, designed to give the pollster his or her desired statistics to justify their actions is an extreme understatement.
Let’s Examine some of the questions in the survey:
“Should more be done to limit access to handguns?”, unfairly assumes that limiting legally owned handguns will have any impact on violent crimes. This question also infers that the question relates to legal handguns. Consider this – an illegal handgun is already completely illegal. Full stop. Limiting access only impacts legal gun owners and doesn’t solve the problem at hand. It does however marginalize legal gun owners and sport shooters.
“Should more be done to limit access to assault weapons?” We’ve covered the obvious problem with this statement above. (see assault stapler). Again, the government infers that the question relates to legally owned firearms when they should be focusing on criminal activities and not unfairly persecuting law-abiding citizens.
The BC Wildlife Federation does a fantastic job of pointing out how nonsensical, trivial and ridiculous the following questions are and the MWF is in full agreement. Please see the BCWF responses below.
“Where should we focus efforts to limit handguns?”
From the BCWF:
- Legally-owned handguns – An invitation to punish millions of law-abiding citizens for the actions of a few criminals. No mention of how this is supposed to reduce
- Illicit handguns – they are already illegal, are we going to make them doublyillegal?
- Both legally-owned handguns and illicit handguns – sounds like a total gun ban, however since illicit guns are already illegal it’s another invitation to fight violent crime by restricting the law-abiding.
- Neither legally-owned handguns nor illicit handguns – All handguns are eliminated from the choice, so how does one limit thenon-existent?
“Where do you believe efforts to limit assault weapons should be focused?” How about we don’t limit them?
From the BCWF:
- Legally-owned firearms -another invitation to punish the law-abiding for the actions of criminals.
- Illicit firearms – alreadyillegal
- Both legally-owned firearms and illicit firearms – a restatement of the attack on the law- abiding since the illicit are already illegal and totally
- Neither legally-owned firearms nor illicit firearms – all firearms are eliminated from the choice, so how does one limit thenon-existent?
“With respect to limiting handguns, assault weapons and other firearms in the illicit market, in which of the following areas do you think efforts should be focused?”
From the BCWF:
- Theft from businesses and individuals – already
- Straw purchasing (i.e., a legal purchase that is then diverted to the illicit market) – already illegal
- Smuggling – already illegal, in a big country with open borders ending firearms smuggling is a logistical impossibility. It remains in the discussion because acknowledging the realities would undercut the “restrict the law-abiding to prevent theft” argument for gun
The fact that the Federal Government is using red herrings like the above survey to distract the public from the fact that the Federal Government is soft on real crime and the undeniable fact that the cause of most gun violence in Canada stems from gang violence, a total lack of public education, a broken social welfare system, criminal enterprise and terrorism.
Let’s not forget that this survey is not only open to responses outside of Canada but there are also no limits to the amount of times someone can answer the survey. How can there possibly be accurate and transparent results when someone can easily program a bot to respond thousands of times, skewing the results to the benefit OR detriment of the survey creators? For anyone who has spent any amount of time on social media platforms like twitter, it’s clear that bots are used to shape public opinion on everything from the Kardashians to the US Presidential Election. Why not this survey too?
If the Federal Government truly wanted accurate responses, who can citizens contact directly through regular mail in the form of a letter? The Federal Governement has conveniently cut out the voices of rural firearms owners, and those which don’t use computers or email.
MWF Recommendations for Reducing Violent Crime:
The MWF is in full agreement with the BCWF. Please read their recommendations below:
“Limiting”firearms is a diversionary tactic from the real problems of gangs, smuggling, gang violence, terrorism and mental illness. Limiting legal firearms will have zero effect on gang crime, gang violence, drug profits, and terrorism, as these groups have a complete disregard for any laws.
A firearm is a metal tool, nothing more. If you do not recognize the problem, you will not solve the problem.Efforts that concentrate on mitigating the actual problems will be effective. Any other efforts area waste of time, energy, and taxpayer’s money–money that could be spent helping the police in their efforts to combat the actual problem.
The BCWF has the following recommendations for reducing violent crime are:
- Recognition by the Canadian Government of the real problems, which are gangs, smuggling, gang violence, terrorism and mental
- Allocate adequate resources to police forces and the Canada Border Agency to enable them to stop/reduce smuggling and deal with criminal gangs, gang violence, and
- Invest funds to develop strategies that combat gang crime, gang violence, drug profits, and
- Provide additional funds, aid, resources, funding and training for Police, RCMP, CSIS, and Canada Border Service so that the problem can be addressed at its
- Investing adequate funding to treat mental illness, and put in place real, work able systems to ensure that those diagnosed with mental illness and pose a threat to others are identified and reported to the RCMP before they engage in
The MWF also has further recommendations:
- Increase budget and training for inner city outreach programs that target youth involved in gangs. Through education, outreach, a safe place to play and positive role models this strategy has been proven effective.
- Help youths and other gang members create exit strategies and methods in which to improve their and their families lives through training, meaningful work programs, social aid, and education grants. This has been extremely effective in Boston Massachusetts through their outreach program targeting gang-involved youth called Operation Ceasefire which itself lowered the total crime rate by 29% and the rate of violent crime by 16%. (Source: World Bank 2003, https://www.oecd.org/dac/conflict-fragility-resilience/docs/47942084.pdf)
- Increase penalties for violent crime offences, including egregious or particularly violent first-time offences.
- Increase penalties to straw purchasers.
- Increase funding and training for border agents to curb the flow of black-market firearms over the border.
The MWF strongly believes that this is just the beginning. As law abiding gun owners, hunters and sports shooters, our very way of life and pursuits are under fire from an administration that would rather punish its own citizens than tackle the tough issues that are really to blame for so much our Canada’s gun violence. So, what can you do to help put an end to this flagrant attack on our very way of life?
As the on-line survey is very misleading, please write to the Honourable William Blair, P.C., C.O.M., M.P, Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction and share your thoughts on how to end violent crime related to hand guns and restricted long guns. Outline for Minister Blair the fundamental flaws in the Federal Government’s thinking in regards to imposing an unfair and dubious ban on hand guns and restricted long rifles.
You can reach Minister Blair in the following ways:
By email: firstname.lastname@example.orgOR email@example.com
The Honourable William Blair, P.C., C.O.M., M.P
Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction
House of Commons
To read the BCWF response to Minister Blair’s request please click here: Submission on Handguns and Assault Weapons Oct 2018 V1
Here is the initial request from the Honourable William Blair:
“Keeping communities safe and reducing violent crime is a priority for the Government of Canada. This is why, in my Mandate letter, the Prime Minister has asked me to lead an examination of a ban on handguns and assault weapons in Canada, while not impeding the lawful use of firearms by Canadians. I am committed to examining all options and hearing all perspectives on this issue.
Over the coming weeks, my Parliamentary Secretary, Peter Schiefke, and I will be speaking to a wide range of stakeholders and experts from across the country. We are also soliciting the views of provinces, territories, municipalities, as well as Indigenous communities.
The attached Discussion Paper entitled, Reducing violent crime: A dialogue on handguns and assault weaponsprovides background information to support this engagement.
Your input is valuable to us. I would like to invite you to provide your views, in writing, on the key elements included in the Discussion Paper. Your submission can be sent by e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org by November 17, 2018.
All Canadians can also share their perspectives on how we can reduce violent crime related to handguns and assault weapons by engaging online at:https://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/cnslttns/hndgn/index-en.aspx.
The online questionnaire is open until November 10, 2018. A summary report of our engagement efforts will be published early in 2019.
I look forward to receiving your input.
The Honourable William Blair, P.C., C.O.M., M.P.
Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction”