Monday, July 23, 2012

Firearms Education, not Prohibition

Firearms politics has come to the forefront of my mind yet again. With the recent shooting crimes in Toronto, people have once again blamed the wrong thing. The gun has been blamed for the violence, not the criminal holding the gun. Not only that, I've seen a few articles from gun control advocates who want stricter gun control for the law abiding. They state violence against women and children as the reason.

Ban Bullets and Guns in Toronto, Councillor Says
Toronto council shoots down Vaughan bullet ban

Ban Something, That’ll Work

In Toronto, using the Eaton Centre Shooting as the catalyst, a city councilman brought forth the idea of a bullet ban within his city. If he had his way, law abiding licensed individuals and companies permitted to sell ammunition to this point would no longer be permitted to have ammunition on premises, ever. I would like to ask, how is stopping the lawful buying and selling of ammunition going to stop criminal acts? Was the ammunition the shooter used in the Eaton Centre legally acquired, and if he couldn't acquire ammunition legally, would that have stopped him from acquiring ammunition illegally? Is banning ammunition and having it confiscated from stores and citizens within Councillor Vaughan's purview, or is this a great soundbite for the leftist crowd?

In listening to Councillor Vaughan, I find he’s focused on the wrong issue. Listening to him, guns are going off constantly in that city! If I believed Councillor Vaughan and no one else, I never ever want to go to Toronto - it’s a violent place! Everyone is shooting in some random direction all the time! Or, I can think logically and believe it’s criminals on occasion; it’s not nearly as bad as he portrays and recent history is an anomaly.

Councillor Vaughan, in his argument to ban bullets in Toronto, said it would help suicide rates, make police officers safer, help curb domestic violence - prevent women from ending up on the wrong end of long guns. That argument makes me so angry being that I’m a woman with a firearms license who advocates firearms education! Councillor Vaughan also said in his argument, most handguns used are smuggled across the border. That’s a whole different issue. Those guns were never legal to begin with. How do illegally smuggled guns warrant a bullet ban from legal sellers of guns and ammunition?

Earlier this week, 24 people were shot, again in Toronto, involving 2 deaths. I feel for everyone of these people and every family affected. It involved an altercation between two people that ended in gunfire. Again, this is a very unfortunate incident that involved criminals performing criminal acts. I was glad to see Mayor Ford’s response was initially “war on gangs” and not “punish the law abiding.” That time has now passed.

With the recent violence we’ve seen in Canada, the idea of gun bans has once again reared its ugly head. One of the arguments I’ve heard is yes, this punishes the law abiding and “inconveniences” sport shooters but sport shooters can take up another hobby. The lawfully acquired guns can be stolen by criminals and used for illegal purposes. They pose a threat to everyone’s safety. First, why should we take up another hobby due to someone else’s fear? We enjoy this hobby and it hurts no one. Second, a car, a knife, a smuggled in firearm can be used for illegal purposes just as well. How is banning my ability to acquire a handgun lawfully going to stop a criminal? Prohibition is never the answer. A criminal doesn’t care about bans and prohibitions. They will always find a way to accomplish their end goal, be it with a gun, car, knife, polonium-210, or some new and inventive way I've not thought of. Denying me the right to own a gun will NOT stop them.

My car was broken into once, the doors were locked but that didn’t stop the thief. There were a couple of things in there apparently worth stealing. My first thought was “effen junkies!” If my assumption is correct, I inadvertently and indirectly supplied drug addicts the means to purchase more illicit drugs. Does that mean I’m no longer permitted quality items because a criminal stole these items to benefit themselves or someone else in a harmful way? What if that criminal stole my car and ran someone over? I am a law abiding Canadian who lawfully purchased a vehicle. That vehicle could be stolen at some future point and be used to harm other Canadians and cause thousands of dollars of damage. Should we ban cars?

I remember when I was about 5 or 6 years old, the neighbourhood bully was playing street hockey by himself. I was playing in my yard and thought nothing of him but he decided he wanted my bike and I didn’t give it up. He hit me in the face with the hockey stick - I remember it well. Do we ban hockey sticks? The list goes on.

Why is it when the left wing decide they want gun control, the first thing they do is bring forward ideas to punish the law abiding? I see or hear about desired bans, restrictions or prohibitions but they fail to mention other forms of violence such as knife violence, physical violence, and so forth. They are so focused, their vision so narrowed that they only see the gun. It’s almost like they want to forget about the guy pulling the trigger.

According the Statistics Canada 2006, 75% of violent crime was committed without a weapon. Knives, clubs, or blunt instruments were the most common weapons used making up roughly 18% of the violent crimes. In 2.4% of those violent crimes, a firearm was used. I have to wonder, how exactly is it firearms get the bad reputation?

Firearms and Violent Crime from Statistics Canada

Gender Equality and Security

Then you have these groups out there saying that there has to be greater gun control because without it, women and children are in danger. They’re even trying to make it a constitutional fight saying it’s a gender equality issue. As a woman, I want the ability to carry a firearm for protection, and why not? Any woman, with proper time and training, could be taught how to shoot from a holster in an emergency situation. Every person should be taught this and not only that, if every person has this skill, it’s no longer a gender issue is it. It does become truly equal.

My mother-in-law used to be a fabulous sport shooter. No matter the competition, she was a top 10 shooter, top woman (usually losing out to the same woman). Then she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. She lost fine motor control and strength of her dominant hand and subsequently lost confidence. Then she came to Calgary and my husband and I took her and her husband out. Her husband is a sport shooter as well, very good, and enjoys it very much. He’s my main instructor and my husband’s mentor. She initially didn’t want to pick up a gun then her darling son said “so use your left hand doofus!” They’re such a loving family. It took time, and coaxing, but her accuracy was coming back. That was 2010.

Then earlier this year she did it. She entered her first competition in years. My mother-in-law had a blast and she placed as a top 5 shooter, with Parkinson’s Disease and using her off-hand. Confidence, friends, her family, time, training, and practice is what it took to have her pick up a gun safely and with precision. I would bet she could out-shoot any criminal, and most police. So I have to ask - how, in anyone’s mind, could this be a gender inequality issue?

“End Dangerous Reductions in Gun Control” YWCA Annual Meeting
Women's groups outraged over exclusion from Senate hearings on gun registry

In a hand to hand fight, I would lose to most men, even with some of the skills I have - most women would. Men in general are naturally bigger and stronger than women. I would think masculine physique alone would cause gender inequality, not firearms law. I can be threatened by a man verbally or physically, but a gun, as they say, is an equalizer. Very simply, if my 11 year old nephew can shoot a .9mm handgun consistently, confidently, and without fear, after training from myself and my husband James, any adult woman can. I would encourage it. Too bad it’s illegal in Canada to carry a gun as protection.

The most recent action that grates on me is Toronto city council’s decision to interfere with a lawsuit against the Federal government to keep the gun registry data. They wish to support The Schlifer Clinic’s attempt to re-establish the long gun registry. The Schlifer Clinic says the long gun registry is required for the safety of police and women in cases of domestic violence. Police apparently require the long gun registry to know what weapons are in a home before they enter. I would argue that police should approach all domestic violence calls as though a firearm is involved whether the individuals are licensed to own one or not. The Schlifer Clinic states destruction of the long gun registry is unconstitutional, the reason being gender security for women. So I ask, does that mean, the handguns my mother-in-law and myself own shouldn't have be registered being that we're women with firearms licenses and legally acquired guns? Do we even require licenses by The Schlifer Clinic’s own arguments?

Toronto legal clinic seeks to save federal long-gun registry
Toronto council votes to intervene in gun registry suit


The only guns gun control lobbyists see are the Ruger Mini 14 or AK-47. The Ruger Mini 14 was used in the École Polytechnique Massacre. Since then, the gun, not the shooter has been vilified. To me, it is the shooter that is evil, it is the shooter that should be vilified, it is the shooter that should be remembered with contempt. I have a Mini 14. It’s never turned on me or tried to kill me or turned on anyone in the surrounding neighbourhood of its own volition. Not only that, James has another gun in the same calibre that’s far more accurate and way cooler.

The Nephew with the Mini 14
The Husband with a different gun in the same calibre
With the AK-47, it appears in many movies, it appears on posters, and it’s a prohibited weapon in Canada. Very few people are permitted to own this one legally. The closest gun myself or James has to the AK-47 is the SKS or the Mini 30. They are the same calibre but not the same gun. The AK-47 is a full automatic firearm whereas the SKS and Mini 30 are semi-automatic firearms amongst some other differences. I would hazard a guess, in most cases, I could hand any of these guns to a gun control fanatic and they wouldn’t know what they were holding. I’ve found most guns are called AK-47’s by people who don’t really know what they’re talking about, or Glocks, handguns are all Glocks.

NOT an AK-47

Late in the spring, I had the opportunity to teach my nephew about many different types of firearms and firearms safety. Here’s a little background on him. Derrien is from Inuvik, NWT. He’s been around guns his whole life. He’s gone hunting and he’s told me he had the opportunity to shoot a caribou with his grandfather’s hunting rifle. He brought it down properly and in one shot after being told how to do it. *insert green eyed jealousy monster here* I got MY hands on him just after he turned 11 and man is he ever a smart cookie!

Proof Derrien is my sister's child

A few days before we went to the range, James and I started with THE talk and we got the eye roll and kid groan: how many 11 year old boys want to hear THE talk from their aunts? Every 11 year old boy wants to hear those famous magic words... gun safety. BORED! But he sat there and he took it like a man. He listened, he memorized and he even told ME what it all meant. Okay good, part one done. THEN we unlocked the ever so exciting door and he didn’t go rushing in. Success in small steps!

Now he gets to touch the firearms, learn what each one is and how they work. He learned how to check if they’re loaded and did so with each one and he did NOT fall for the trick question (which James answered incorrectly and called me a nasty name for!) Rockin’! We’re doing good. T-minus two days before we actually go outside. For the next two days, I grill the kid, he does well. I even make him check and double check the marshmallow gun we play with (and yes, shoot my husband with. Mini-marshmallow ballistics are awesome!)

11 year old excitement!  Learning how to hold the gun!

It’s now the night before, time to start choosing what firearms we’re taking to the range and time to start packing, locking and prepping. This does take a long time. Not only do I have a brand new never fired handgun that I got for my birthday that MUST come out, James made a couple of new purchases for himself and we have Derrien make a few picks of his own. 19 firearms get packed - MY GOD! Because I’ve been teaching Derrien gun safety for the past few days, I have him help me pack up the guns. James is sitting in one inconvenient spot. The guns are never to point at any of us and with Derrien being in charge of in-home safety, they never do. He successfully has me move guns and cases around until they’re all locked and packed. He even learned that the restricted’s needed to be multi-locked. I had to help him with what was restricted and what wasn’t. He’s 11, the fact that he got the safety part down was good enough for me.

I can fit 2 rifles in a 1 gun case!
My husband helped Derrien pack the ammunition. James decided one day he likes weird Russian calibres. I like .308, he likes 9mm Makarov. I actually wrote down the firearms we were taking so we didn’t miss any ammunition. Then the morning finally arrived. We went for a nice breakfast and for a boy who said he wasn’t hungry, he sure snarfed back his breakfast (then ate half of mine!) A friend of ours came to the range with us. She’s come out a number of times. She has a lot of fun shooting smaller calibres which is great! She and Derrien were having shooting competitions. I bought them Zombie splatter targets. In a zombie apocalypse, Derrien is set! Zombies don’t have a chance.

TEMPLE SHOT!  That zombie is going down!
I had him shoot rifles, a shotgun, and a couple of different handguns.  Now they're not a mystery to him.  When we got home, Derrien was made to clean the guns he used.  He did very well at every step and he did so because we was given the opportunity to do so.  He learned how to disassemble and reassemble the handgun he used most often.  He needed a little help but did most of it himself and he cleaned it well.  He also cleaned the shotgun and a rifle.




He had fun at the range, he had fun doing the work. He carried the cases, he carried the ammo boxes, he cleaned and put away the firearms and now he’s familiar and comfortable with them. Derrien (who’s perfect stance should be an embarrassment to most professionals) now doesn’t think a gun is a toy, a thing to kill people with, a so called modern gangster’s weapon, or something one just picks up and points at people for fun or to cause fear. It’s no longer a simple movie prop.

If more people, even the hardcore gun control crowd would educate themselves about guns, they would realize they are not something to fear. A gun is a tool or sports equipment, but unlike a fishing rod, a gun requires more care (unless you’re around my sister who’s not paying attention and she hooks you square in the thigh!)

I want people to realize that with adequate firearms education, the chances of an accident is reduced. With the experience Derrien received with me, his goal has become to get his Possession and Acquisition License when he turns 18. He’s also told me that he wishes to join the Canadian Armed Forces as soon as he possibly can. How is any of this negative? I didn’t make a little criminal by giving him this education, I helped him create goals. He’s not sure what he wants to be when he grows up, but he now knows some of what he wants to achieve.

Criminals Don’t Care About Law

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, stop punishing law abiding Canadians. More laws won’t stop criminals; they don’t care about law or they wouldn’t be criminals. Guns are not the only tool or method used in crime. There are drug related crimes, home invasions, assaults, drinking and driving, stabbings, but guns get most of the bad press.

I’ve never commited a crime, I simply own guns, and I own them lawfully. I am not a threat to my neighbours or my community. To look at my house or even in my house, the average person wouldn’t know there are firearms here, let alone more than the 19 described above. They are all legally acquired and legally stored per storage laws. So tell me, what is more law going to do to stop criminals? Criminals haven’t been stopped yet. Will criminals be stopped in the future because some bureaucrat decides he wants a good soundbite? The right thing is said, a new tougher law is enacted and the only ones punished are those who already follow the law.

Actually put criminals on trial, don’t let them off on some stupid technicality. Punish the criminals, make them work their time. Once they’re caught, keep them in jail. There shouldn’t be shortened sentences for good behaviour or chances of early parole. Time in jail shouldn’t be easy. Why is there concern for creature comforts for inmates? It currently costs taxpayers $113,000/year/inmate. It’s time inmates lose their comforts and start suffering for what they have done, perhaps pay for what they have done. Why does there always seem to be an easy way out for a lot of these criminals? There are “slap on the wrists” or plea bargains, these need to end. Maybe if a good chunk of that $113,000/year/inmate were put into the court system, there would be more money for more prosecutors. Punish the guys who need the punishing, not the guys who didn’t do anything wrong to begin with.

Instead of more laws for the law abiding or banning guns and ammunition, I vote we ban theft, ban abuse, ban assault, ban illicit drug use, ban murder...