Paul Martin ignores reality (again)
By Christopher di Armani
On December 8, 2005 Prime Minister Paul Martin announced he will ban handgun ownership in Canada. He also announced the creation of a national "snitch line" (or the GunStoppers Program as he calls it) that will pay cash to people for ratting out their gun-owning neighbors.
Competitive shooters will be eligible for an exemption, but before target shooters jump for joy they'd better read the fine print. Paul Martin's version of "target shooter" means Olympic or Commonwealth Games only. IPSC and IDPA (or any other) shooters need not apply.
Puffing his chest appropriately, Paul Martin said that mandatory minimum sentences would be doubled. Apparently he wasn't paying attention when his own Attorney General Irwin Cotler stood in Parliament and said, "When it comes to mandatory minimum (sentences), we will not go ahead and introduce something that all the evidence shows is neither effective nor a deterrent. We want to combat crime, but not with ineffective deterrents." (Hansard, April 14, 2005)
Their integrated federal-provincial teams that prosecute firearms crimes? Another fluffy feel-good announcement. We've had "Gun Police" here in Canada since 1994 in one form or another. Our Gunstapo however, stays well away from the gangs of Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver, content instead to harass legitimate gun owners.
For example, March 13, 1995 they descended upon the firearms business of John St-Amour, complete with a black, unmarked helicopter. Despite John's repeated plea, "Tell me what you want and I'll give it to you", they stormed through his home, seized computers, files and firearms. All charges against St. Amour were eventually tossed out because of abuses by police and excessive trial delays.
Their latest "triumph" was traveling to the quiet town of Dryden, Ontario (population 8,800) to prosecute gunsmith Bruce Montague and his wife Donna for the heinous crime of owning firearms without licenses or registration certificates.
The Montagues have been at the forefront of the firearms rights battle since the licensing and registration scheme was first implemented. Bruce traveled the country for 18 months delivering affidavits to every provincial justice minister in Canada and to the federal Justice Minister and Prime Minister in Ottawa. He was, of course, ignored by them all at the time.
Bruce's high-profile arrest at a gun show on September 11, 2004 prompted widespread criticism of the Ontario Provincial Police for their handling of the arrest, and support for the Montague family continues to grow. Their case is not expected to come to trial until the end of 2006, more than two years after their arrests.
Since 1977, Paul Martin's Liberal Party of Canada has steadily introduced more and more restrictive firearms laws. Invoking "public safety" and chanting "for the children" at every opportunity, successive justice ministers repeatedly tighten the noose around the necks of law-abiding firearms owners, while violent criminals continue to roam our streets completely unaffected.
The very shooting violence in downtown Toronto that Martin claims he's attacking is proof that the Firearms Act is a complete and utter failure. Canada has, in case Paul Martin is unaware, required handgun registration since 1934. Despite 71 years of "gun control", illegal handguns remain the weapon-of-choice for violent criminals.
While leaving said criminals alone, the government makes a mockery of our justice system with such asinine programs as "Statutory Release", (Section 127) where the offender must be released after serving two-thirds of his/her sentence) and a youth offender program (Sec 6.(1), 9, 29(2), 42(2), etc.) that merely guarantees our young offenders graduate into adult offenders.
A typical politician, Mr. Martin is completely out of touch with the country he supposedly "governs".
He does not care that Canada's firearms laws are already some of the most severe in the world. He also does not care that Canada's law-abiding firearms owners are some of the most scrutinized in all of our society. (Mauser - The Failed Experiment: Gun Control and Public Safety in Canada, Australia, England and Wales)
Paul Martin's Liberal government is the author of Canada's failed Firearms Registry. Already cost estimates are over one billion dollars and by the Minister of Public Safety, Anne McLellan's own admission, the system is still not fully up and running and will not be until 2007 (Dec 2, 2004 National Post).
Paul Martin either does not know or does not care that Canada's federal government has no authority over Property Rights. The Constitution Act, 1867, s.92.13 reads in part "In each Province the Legislature may make Laws in relation to... 13. Property and Civil Rights in the Province". Private property is solely the domain of the Provinces, which makes Mr. Martin's announced handgun ban "interesting".
Since Martin (and the Federal government) cannot actually implement a ban on private property, he has "invited" the provinces to jump on board the program and implement it for him. Only Ontario has publicly come out in favour of the plan.
When British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell's office was contacted for this article, his staff were quick to make it clear Premier Campbell had no opinion on any federal legislation, pending or otherwise, and that all inquiries about the handgun ban should be directed to the Prime Minister's office in Ottawa.
Alberta Premiere Ralph Klein seems the only voice of sanity on the issue. In a Dec 19, 2005 Ottawa Citizen article Klein is quoted, "Gun registration has done absolutely nothing to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. That's fine, you can say ban handguns. You can pass legislation to ban them. But it's not going to stop the bad guys from getting a handgun and shooting someone."
If only Paul Martin understood that simple reality.
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