Thursday, January 26, 2012

Don't Punish The Law Abiding

I, with many other licensed firearms owners, have been waiting for the end of the billion dollar long gun registry. It has been a waste of time and resources from the very outset. Those with concerns of firearms ownership but don't know how it works should educate themselves about legal firearms acquisition and ownership. We, the law abiding, are not the people to be worried about, but we are the ones getting punished. The Firearms Act is easy to find, I have referenced it frequently and with this, there is a Fact Sheet concerning the Firearms Act. Both are very informative.

Not only that, one of the concerns people seem to have that don't know how this firearms thing works, is acquisition. With the scrapping of the long gun registry, a Possession and Acquisition License is still required to own or purchase hunting rifles and shot guns. The step that will be deleted is registering them. For restricted firearms such has handguns, registration will still be required. That's been going on since 1934. Also with restricted firearms, to move them, an Authority to Transport is needed.  The gun owner is only permitted to take restricted firearms to a range or gunsmith.

I've read many times that when the long gun registry is scrapped, police won't have it to reference, they won't be safe... what? Are police so incompetent that they require a computer to tell them how to approach a situation. “This house has a registered gun, approach with caution, no this house does not have a registered gun, approach with gay abandon?” I give police a little more credit than that. The ones I've interacted with have a head on their shoulders; I'm hoping that extends throughout Canada.

C-68, the bill that started all this long gun registry stuff punishes law abiding citizens. The way it was written, it seems to go out of its way to criminalize us. It's all guilty until proven innocent. The slightest infraction, or even the look of an infraction and a gun owner is up to their eyeballs in trouble. An otherwise normal lawful person who has never done anything wrong in their life can very easily be left with a criminal record and have their property seized because someone, say a neighbour, calls the police because a they saw a firearm case and don't understand that this person has just come home from the range. It's happened before and it will happen again.

Criminals, actual real criminals, don't apply for licenses.  They don't register their firearms and they won't store their guns per the firearms act. The Firearms Act can be tweaked and tightened up but the criminal doesn't care and never will. No amount of gun control will ever stop them from using a firearm if they really want to.

Of late, every time I read an article about scrapping the long gun registry, someone brings up the Polytechnique Massacre. I knew some details about it but not a lot. I was 12 when it happened so I had to do some reading. What people in news articles have been saying is the scrapping of the Long Gun Registry is an insult to the women who died at Polytechnique and I completely disagree. I'm tired of people misusing that incident to advocate gun control.

Mark Lepine was a man in his mid-twenties who was already mentally unstable. He grew up in an abusive household and his father thought little of women. His father left the family when Mark was 7. Mark had applied for military service and was rejected so he joined a college science program. He was described as withdrawn, having difficulties with relationships . He lost his job as a nurse due to poor attitude and shortly after, quit college. He applied at Ecole Polytechnic twice and was denied both times. He blamed a lot of society's problems on feminism and targeted feminists specifically. This violence was directed against women and was described by experts as a hate crime. The gun Mark Lepine used was legal and his. He killed 14 women and injured 4 men and 10 women. He was determined to harm these people. If he didn't have access to a firearm, he would have found some other way as he was planning the attack for months. The gun was not at fault, this was a problem with the man who pulled the trigger.

Last December, about 100 kms south of Calgary, a young man using his vehicle, ran down another vehicle. Once stopped, he shot four people, killing three, injuring one. One of the girls murdered was his ex-girlfriend. He then committed suicide. The firearms legally belonged to the offender. All of them registered. I don't wish to diminish what the families are going through but the offender obviously went out with violent intent and no amount of law would have prevented this. If he didn't have access to firearms, he would have found some other way to cause these people harm, probably using the two tonnes of steel he was in.

In Kelowna last August, a man was shot and killed in front of the Grand Okanagan Resort. This was a confirmed targeted hit. According to reports, a dark SUV pulled up behind parked luxury SUV, masked men jumped out of it, shot the parked vehicle and drove way. The two men in the parked vehicle were from two different gangs. Five people were injured in the shooting. I would place odds that the shooters did not have firearms licenses, did not register their guns and did not acquire their guns legally. Criminals generally don't. I feel comfortable calling the shooters criminals, law abiding citizens don't pull up in front of hotels and shoot other people, no matter the circumstance.

On New Year's Day in 2009, in Calgary, men walked into Bolsa Restaurant and executed three people. This one is very close to home, literally. It's about 10 minutes away AND I used to go to this restaurant for lunch when I did laundry at the laundromat across the parking lot. According to newspaper articles, this incident happened because of some gang revenge plot. Gangs members don't get Possession and Acquisition Licenses, they don't register guns and they don't purchase their guns legally. The Firearms Act would not have prevented this.

None of these incidents are the fault of the firearms but the fault of the people using the firearms as tools of murder. No amount of gun control could have prevented these deaths and injuries. Scrapping the long gun registry is not blood on anyone's hands as I've read, it's not an insult to anyone who's died at the hands of criminals.

Now, I can start touching on crimes that don't involve firearms such as domestic violence, stabbings, drunk driving, robbery, assault, substance abuse, computer hacking, tax evasion, locking a child in a car on a hot day and so on. In many of these cases what I will say is, the tool isn't blamed. If someone is killed by a drunk driver, it isn't the car that's blamed, it's the driver. If someone is stabbed to death, it isn't the knife that's blamed, it's the person that wielded the knife. So why is it if someone dies by bullet, it's the gun's fault, not the fault of the person who pulled the trigger? What fault is it when someone is scammed? These are all people problems. Controlling the tool will not stop the people problems.

More gun control is not the answer, education is the answer. Honestly, more people should have firearms. I would be happier if every Canadian family had a firearm or two. First, that would mean every Canadian family would be familiar with at least one kind of gun.  Second, that would mean, Canadians wouldn't fear them because they would be familiar with them. It's natural to fear that which you do not understand, so understand this tool.

Why continue to create laws that punish the law abiding? It doesn't do anything to deter the criminal. It's not like today they're law breakers and tomorrow they follow the firearm's act because of some epiphany. We who follow the rules are the only ones getting punished. Instead, what should happen is the criminal code is changed to punish actual criminals for firearms infractions, be it illegal acquisition, possession, or use. The problem is, the Firearms Act is written to punish the law abiding licensed owner for storing their legally owned firearm incorrectly, as an example. That could mean the room wasn't locked but the firearm was otherwise safe.

There are roughly 2.5 million gun owners in Canada. There are a large number of hits on the gun registry ranging from 2,500 to 14,000 hits per day. I find it interesting that when I see the number of gun registry uses, I never see why it's been used. To just look at the statistics, all of us gun owners are constantly called on, it's amazing! However, the information that’s missed is, all identity searches done by law enforcement tap the gun registry whether they asked for a gun registry information or not. That means someone phones 911, the dispatcher asks for the caller's name and phone number, the dispatcher enters it into their computer, it taps the gun database. Most of the “hits” on the gun database are auto-hits, not intentional ones. How is that useful?

The Long Gun Registry needs to be scrapped. It was a mistake from the very outset. It was never set up properly. It was never run well (and they did try) and it's costing Canadians way too much. This is money that could have better served if spent on law enforcement. Two billion dollars could have done a lot for the RCMP. Stop the financial bleeding, start the educating and stop criminalizing law abiding citizens. We're not the enemy.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Oil and Gas Pipelines from My View

My name is Carmen Jane McCullough. I’m Inuvialuit and a couple generations back, Scottish on my mom’s side.  I’ve got German heritage from my dad.  I was born in Inuvik, Northwest Territories.  Most of my family is still scattered through the Northwest Territories.  I’m married to James, a white guy born in Edmonton but who realized Calgary is way cooler.

These are my Aunts, on the Right is my mom and in front is my Granny
I take native photos and read history books.  I’ve also been paying a lot of attention to political issues that affect me as the various levels of governments have been making what appear to be arbitrary decisions in my so called best interest.

Native Photo
History Book
Until a few years ago, I didn’t really think about my heritage or what it really meant to me.  Being that I live so far away from the Inuvialuit, it’s hard to stay in touch.  Of late, I’ve been talking with my sister on political issues that affect us.  She still lives in Inuvik.  She and I are very different people but I value her opinion very much since she said to me she decided she’s smart.  It is quite the statement from anyone.

I was very much in favour of the Mackenzie Pipeline and have been disappointed at the progress thus far.  I hope in the future it gets built and without the rhetoric from environmentalists but that’s wishful thinking.  I am very much in favour of the Keystone XL Pipeline.  Why President Obama said no, and with a blame throwing caveat, confuses me.  Currently, I am in favour of the Northern Gateway Pipeline and why the Gitxsan Nation rescinded their support baffles me.

I did some research on the Gitxsan Nation.  I went to their website, I read about their heritage and what they want to accomplish in the future.  The partnership with Enbridge in my opinion could only help them advance.  The pipeline project would provide the Gitxsan Nation with job opportunities and training for their people and a constant influx of money to the band for a period for 30 years.  And that’s just the information I found on a quick search.  I find it strange and unfathomable that they would say no to an amazing opportunity to work with a corporation willing to give so much in return for a buried pipeline route that in a couple of years you wouldn’t even know was there.

I do not understand why so many people are so concerned about the possible environmental impact of this pipeline.  They keep bringing up oil spills.  Yes, that could, possibly just maybe happen, but the pipeline is being built with current technology, not 50 year old tech and it’ll be built up to current environmental regulations.  These regulations aren’t exactly lenient in this country.  Not only that, if there were this possible just maybe future spill, Enbridge does have to clean it up, and fast.  If there’s even the possibility of a breach, someone MUST go check it out, actually go to the site and look at it, do tests, make sure all is well and if all is not well, fix the problem.  That’s why oil and gas companies have land management teams.

Environmentalists want people to believe their lies instead of science.  They’ve campaigned so well that people refuse to believe facts nowadays.  Somehow they’ve convinced people that drilling, moving or refining oil is evil yet people still drive their cars, warm their homes and fly in good conscience.  Why it is that someone will take the word of a professional protester over the word of a petroleum engineer, I will never understand.

I’ve also found references from people talking about evil “corporate profit.”  Enbridge has every right to make money.  However, in their effort to make money, they are paying wages, salaries, various licensing fees, all kinds of insurance, federal taxes, and all sorts of taxes in both provinces.  They’ll be purchasing materials to build the pipeline and hiring other companies to move earth and the list goes on.  It’s not just Enbridge that makes money, it’ll be so many other companies plus the provincial and federal governments.  Don’t forget the local business as workers go through to grab a bite to eat and what not.  The economy at every level will increase for a time everywhere this pipeline touches.

In some of the arguments that I’ve been in over the Northern Gateway Pipeline, people have said that because I live in Southern Alberta it doesn’t directly affect me.  My husband and I have a small acreage near Bon Accord.  The pipeline is going right past it.  It does affects me directly and you know what, I’m not worried.

Read on the pipelines.  Research it and make your own informed opinion.  Don’t listen to professional environmentalists and protesters with their pseudo facts and realize that businesses have a right to run and make money.  Money in their pocket is not money out of yours.  Also realize that oil and gas companies are not out to destroy the planet.  In my experience, they don’t want that anymore than you do.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Our Experience with the RCMP vs What the RCMP show Federally

Last January, James, my husband, and I thought it was going to be a normal year. Then an officer from the Calgary Police Services showed up on my door step. He explained to us that James' father passed away. It was a rough evening. Finally, the next morning James spoke, for the first time, to Cpl. Jason Zazulak, an RCMP officer from the Morinville RCMP detachment. I remember this very clearly. It was the morning of January 11, 2011.

They had a conversation about James' father, and then had a brief conversation about our impending drive from Calgary to Morinville. It was quite stormy, highway conditions were bad and Cpl. Zazulak told us to drive carefully and he would be quite upset at us if he had to send out officers on a search. There's already been one upset in the family and he didn't want to phone our parents too. A sense of humour, I knew I'd like him.

When we finally got to Morinville (almost 5 hours later), we met Cpl. Zazulak. First he explained to us the circumstances of Noel's death. Then we spoke about the property. We knew that Noel owned firearms and we knew we would have to deal with them in the estate transfer. I had already done a lot of research (in the few hours I had) on this topic. Cpl. Zazulak said they searched the house and seized the firearms which was fine. He also told us they weren't done cataloging them. My husband and I are both licensed gun owners and we expected a few guns. 50 even 60 guns wasn't out of line. He then said to us... they were up to 160 guns. James went silent. It's not often James goes silent.

I was able to tell Cpl. Zazulak that we could bring a firearms expert (my mother in-law's current husband) in the next few months. This made everyone very comfortable. He told us they would hold onto all of the firearms for as long as we needed. We asked for a full catalog of the firearms when it was ready and he was fine with providing us this.

On this same day, Const. Jamie Short brought us out to the property. We weren't entirely sure how to get there from Morinville. He led us out and helped us search the house. We were there for a number of hours. When we decided we were done for awhile and needed dinner, Const. Short left a few minutes before we did and said “if you see any body prints in the snow, kick it, make sure I'm not in it!” Again! Sense of humour, I love it!

It's a lot scarier in the winter with 18 ft of snow!

Over the next few months, we got the list of the firearms and had been driving back and forth from Calgary to Bon Accord to clean up the property and now spring comes. We can officially claim the firearms, almost 200 of them.

John arrives to help, James heads to Morinville three days before me and they head over to the RCMP station to pick the firearms up along with the binder full of paperwork.

From what I heard, everyone had a lot of fun loading the firearms into John's trailer as John explained each of the more esoteric ones. Even Staff Sergeant Mac Richards was helping out. The officers at the Morinville detachment learned more about firearms then they ever thought possible through this estate. Not only that, after they were loaded into the trailer and ready to be moved back to the property, we were told if we had any problems to contact them. They would help us out. How awesome is that?

James picked out a few guns he would like to keep, I picked out a couple and the rest were transferred to John as he legally sells guns and gun parts. I'm personally pleased I don't have to deal with almost 200 guns. They are out of my hair. I tell ya, we have this down to a science. Before we got this all figured out, the Alberta CFRO and the Canada Firearms Centre helped out nicely.

With all this, we went to the Alberta Arms Show here in Calgary and James headed to the Kamloops Gun Show with his mother and John and met a lot of interesting people. Here at the Alberta Arms Show, James met Danielle Smith, the Wild Rose Party leader. They had a good talk. James told her about our experience with the Morinville detachment and she was quite interested in what he had to say. We have never met anyone from the other parties nor do they seem to care what we have to say on any topic.

After my amazing experience with the Morinville RCMP, it's sad to see what the federal RCMP are doing with the prohibition of certain firearms based on looks just because the long gun registry is about the be destroyed. It's disappointing and disheartening. Why would I trust a police force that legislates and enforces the law based on convenience? Why are they creating legislation and prohibiting firearms against law abiding citizens? It's already been proven that those of us with a firearms license are actually safer and more lawful than those without. Instead of going after us, go after actual real criminals instead of making criminals out of us.

To those who want guns removed from the hands of law abiding gun owners, please, learn the law, learn what it takes to acquire a firearms license then learn what it takes to acquire a firearm. It's not as easy as most think. My authority to transport is proof of that. Don't judge a firearms owner by the fact they own firearms. You never know who it is unless the person says “I have guns.” Odds are pretty good your neighbours are gun owners, you just don't know it. I'm more than happy to help educate those who don't know. Just ask me or the nearest guy with a license. We'll tell ya, teach ya and probably take you to the range! Most of us (in my experience) like shooting in groups. The more the merrier.



Monday, January 9, 2012

Government Insanity

Both the municipal and provincial government seem to be suffering some kind of political insanity. Both levels of government feel they can think for the entire population whether they've been voted in or not. Not only that, they are making self serving decisions and then saying they are in the best interest of the people.

Let's start with Calgary Council. The airport tunnel is approved, fluoride is taken out of the water (even though it was put in through plebiscite), Calgary Transit is included on property taxes, illegal squatters couldn't be removed using legal methods, cycling is becoming a priority over snow removal, and this is for starters. The newest mayor makes popular decisions that suit him, forces through others as he sees fit, and bullies until he gets his way for the rest. All this is done in the best interest of Calgarians without actually consulting us.

Now, let's not forget about provincial insanity. Laws are forced through AFTER the very same laws are deemed unconstitutional in another province, a “sin tax” is being considered to increase money for the government (let’s just play with the idea of religion and politics as bedfellows), they want to force anti-smoking laws through AFTER taxing the cigarettes and it looks like the unelected premier isn't done yet. How this insanity even started in a country that calls itself a democracy is beyond me. The first set of self-important laws were put through using “power of closure”. Why? Because our new mother - I mean unelected Premier - knows what's best for Albertans and is obviously clairvoyant; she doesn't even need to ask first.

Is this how we want to run?

I believe one or two of these projects should have gone to plebiscite as they affect all of us but because the affected politicians didn't think we'd vote in their favour, plebiscite didn't happen. Instead, they said a plebiscite was too expensive and forced their pet projects through themselves. As for the other projects, they needed more analysis but again, the affected politicians felt this wouldn't be in their personal best interest so again, the pet project was forced through, avoiding the due process around which our democracy is designed. Why is this happening more often? How do we stop it?

I can think of one reason this has started. The politicians seem to think that our bank accounts are an infinite resource. If they start to run out of money, just raise taxes and begin the next multi-billion dollar project, no problem. Not only that, they increase vehicle registration, business registration, animal licensing, and so on.  That's more money for them that we have no choice but to pay. The problem is, even for those of us that can afford it, it's becoming cumbersome.

Premier Redford and Mayor Nenshi are both falling for it. They both want to increase taxes for their pet projects that are in our best interests AND they want to keep the economy moving forward. I'm not quite sure how that works though. How do we pay for all the tax and licensing increases and still get all the little extras we all enjoy... like booze for example, and then pay for a cab home? I ask again, how do we stop them from increasing all these taxes, make the insane government more accountable, and force the government out of this insanity and into efficiency?

It's obvious that the various levels of governments are on a spending spree. They need to change their methods and ideas and they need to realize that there is only one taxpayer in the end and we're getting tired. At this point, I'm asking for, begging for efficiency in government. Put a halt to new projects, fix the old ones that are falling down, maintain what's there. Stop the insanity!