HomeHealthcare14 Reader Views on Guns

14 Reader Views on Guns

As a Canadian firearms owner and competitive shooter, I think it’s unfortunate, for America, that a moderate system of gun control like Canada’s would be so impossible, politically, in your country. To own a rifle or shotgun here, you need a license, issued after a background check that includes asking your spouse if they have any objections. People with a history of domestic violence, other crimes, or mental problems can’t get one, generally speaking. Most rifles and shotguns don’t have to be registered, although it is a criminal offence to sell or give one to somebody who doesn’t have a license. You’re also required to keep them trigger locked, or in a safe, unless you’re in a spot where you need it handy for defence against predators, not uncommon in rural Canada. Overall, it’s pretty easy to own a hunting rifle or shotgun. Recently, the federal government has tightened up the rules about assault-style semiautomatic rifles considerably. Depending who you ask, this is either Justin Trudeau’s favourite kind of political theatre, at the expense of people who’d never vote for him anyway, or a legitimate attempt to prevent a repetition of the 1989 Ecole Polytechnique mass shooting in Montreal, in the wake of the many further and horrific examples from the USA.      

Assault-style rifles, in Canada, are just range toys anyway. To take a few examples that may be known to your readers: The AR15 has always been restricted to shooting range use, and the AK47 has been outright prohibited, although the Ruger Mini 14 has, until recently, been unrestricted. Nobody even pretends that these rifles are essential, or even particularly useful, for hunting or predator defence. As for handguns, since at least the 1930s we’ve observed a sharp distinction between long guns and handguns.

Handgun ownership is rarer than in the USA. Handguns have to be registered, and that license involves an even more thorough background check. Concealed carry is a serious criminal offence. The only lawful purposes for civilian handgun ownership are target competition, employment as an armoured car guard (not just a security guard), or for prospectors and the like to carry in Grizzly country (where anyone with any sense is toting at least a 12 gauge shotgun, not a handgun). Smallish handguns (with a barrel of 4 inches or less) are prohibited entirely, since they’re not suited to any of those lawful purposes.

It follows that the pocket pistols, occasionally used by drug gangs in Toronto and the suburbs of Vancouver, mostly to shoot inaccurately at one another, have largely been smuggled in from the USA. When I visit the USA with my family, I try to ignore the fact that many of the people out and about have handguns concealed in their clothes or vehicle, or that anyone, apparently even a teenager, can acquire an AR15 and a high capacity magazine. As a summer customs officer at a tourist crossing, years ago, I was amazed to see how many Americans had a handgun in the glove compartment, or rattling around in the back of the Winnebago, which they were very often incompetent to unload safely.   

I might own a carry pistol too if I lived in, say Houston (though not Seattle). I’m grateful that I don’t have to make that choice. I’m also grateful that the Canadian police officers in my family don’t have to be much concerned that there’ll be a firearm in the car when they conduct a traffic stop. Despite these restrictions on our liberties, we enjoy a functioning democracy. We really aren’t worried that we need an armed militia to deter King George or his descendants from coming back or to overthrow our own government.      



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

Recent Comments