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.

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