The debate is not yet over
By Clive Edwards
It is worth noting that over the course of the gun control debate in Canada the emphasis has shifted from "sporting use" and "hunting" as valid reasons for owning firearms to "personal protection". The logic of this shift is unavoidable; sports, even hunting are not protected by either the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Personal protection is protected by both.
Personal protection without access to the appropriate tools is a farce. Firearms, especially small, convenient to use handguns are the most effective tools for personal protection which is why police, guards, the military and gang bangers use them.
Thanks to former justice minister Allan Rock and his ilk, mainstream Canadians are the only ones NOT carrying firearms suitable for their defense. At least not legally, and for effective public policy legality is what counts – otherwise the law is brought into disrepute.
Some would say our drug laws, tax laws and spendthrift government individually and collectively bring about the current state of disrespect for government but there is an important difference between those sorts of laws and gun laws.
Security of the person is non-negotiable. It is the prime given. It is the excuse government uses for nearly all its other actions. The thing about security of the person is that it is ultimately not something that can be delegated. Anyone who demands under any circumstances that a person delegate that authority 100% by disarming whether voluntarily or under duress is either running a protection racket or planning something very, very bad. Maybe even Pol Pot bad.
Those of you planning on arguing these points – don't bother. Back in the sixties and seventies the facts weren't in and the studies hadn't been done. Now they have. The anti-gun groups usually start from the conclusion that guns are bad and work backwards plugging in numbers as they go.
Respected academics have done the hard work, spent the time sifting for the truth and then written their reports. Mauser and Lott trump Kellerman and Bellesiles any day and the US Center for Disease Control agrees. That part of the debate is over.
I believe that since the anti-gun crowd refuse to even discuss personal protection as a valid reason for owing firearms that the other valid reason is what really scares the bejesus out of them. To be precise it is really an extension of personal protection, but it has a more general prophylactic effect.
An armed population is a hell of an incentive for government to respect the citizenry. What happens when government, whether their own or an invading force decides to kill civilians? Genocide. What do we call it when said civilians are armed? War. In the case of their own government that would be Civil War.
No one ever tried to commit genocide against the Swiss or the Americans. Why not? Because every home, every tree or rock can shoot back. Too risky. And what government wants to risk civil war? Hand in your guns first then we'll talk about it.
Nobody says we can't talk about firearms as sporting goods. Pro-gun, anti-gun; both sides feel comfortable in the shallow end of the pool. Unfortunately the anti-gunners started to drain the shallow end by making firearms illegal, which is according to sections 91 and 92 of the Firearms Act where matters stand in Canada right now, license or no license.
This has forced the pro-firearms side to wade out to deeper water and admit that, well, sure they like shooting targets and deer but the real reason they own guns is to protect their home and their family.
Yes we know women got suckered early on when Rock prohibited the small, lower recoiling handguns especially suited to a woman's hand, but hey, nobody wanted to talk about personal protection back then. It was all "nudge-nudge, wink-wink". Concealed Carry laws weren't proven or wide spread in the United States.
No one had done the research on the effectiveness of 911 as a life saving tactic. If the bad guy says you're not dialing 911 you aren't. If you succeed in reaching the 911 operator just as the bad guy pulls off your panty-hose to strangle you then guess what – the operator can listen to you die. He can still be long gone by the time the cops show up if he doesn't commit suicide after you and the kids are dead.
I know this is all traumatic information for those who are sheep in peoples' clothing. Most people are unwilling to confront reality and are chanting either "too much information", or have their fingers in their ears singing "la-la-la-la-la"! Sure you can buy a house in the ‘burbs with a monitored security system and drive a car with automatic door locks but these things only put the lie to your belief that you don't need to protect yourself. Millions of us have already wrapped our minds around the problem and are the licensed (and in most cases unlicensed) gun owners of Canada.
The question that nobody has dared raise, at least not publicly, is what happens if the anti-gunners keep draining the pool? What happens if the Supreme Court deems, as did Allan Rock, that self-defense is not a legitimate reason for owning firearms?
The more general question of whether or not the courts are willing to uphold the firearms rights Canadians inherited from the progenitors of our Charter of Rights & Freedoms is being asked by Regina v Montague right now.
The government is so afraid of this case that it has effectively seized the Montague home thereby denying the Montagues the funds necessary to conduct their case. Fortunately, tens of thousands of firearms owners and civil libertarians anted up the support needed and will continue to do so until the final disposition of the case.
The Montague court challenge is not about symbolism or access to government programs or money. It is about the nitty-gritty of a tangible, historical and most basic human right. What should be front page news in every paper in Canada and leading on every newscast gets buried on A12 every time.
This case is more important than the Persons Case that led to women getting the vote. It is more important than the Morgenthaler case that legally permitted abortion. It is the most important feminist issue in Canadian history – that of a woman's right to protect herself.
Not the right to have access to a telephone number that will summon a large man with a gun as soon as he can get there, but a woman's most basic right – the right to protect herself and her family immediately when the need arises; whether the bad guys are from the ‘hood or from the government; whether the need is now or tomorrow or next year or when she is old and in a wheelchair. That needs to be a woman's choice and it can only be a choice for most women if firearms are legally available.
So what will happen if the anti-gunners keep draining the pool? What happens if the Supreme Court finds that firearms are not a right and that the laws making them illegal can stand? Will parliament and the people have been swayed by the facts of the debate and rush to pass laws that legitimize and encourage safe firearms use? Will we slide more and more into being a nation of scofflaws – willing to accept goods and services without a receipt if the seller lets us off the hook for the GST? Will we ask the dealer who supplies us with our weed or coke to pick us up a 9mm and a box of ammo? I call this the "going European" option.
Or will we stand up like righteous people – like North Americans – and put the duress where it belongs: on our politicians and bureaucrats. Only time and tides will tell. Will the rot of corruption consume us all, or will we be able to cut away the cancer that permeates our society and by taking responsibility, save it?
Clive Edwards is a British Columbia based writer. (c) 2006 Clive Edwards