Common sense firearms law for Canada

Posted: December 11, 2012 in Firearms News
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So, if this (the current Firearms Act) doesn’t work, what would?

What is licencing supposed to do?

In broad strokes regarding the drivers licence, it is a certificate of driving proficiency that is used to uniquely track licensees, licence type, manage a points/demerit system, serve as identification, and is authoritative. It is revocable, issued for a finite period and provincially issued/managed.

A proficiency test, both written and practical are administered through a graduated program that grants additional privileges through experience and additional testing. Various classes of vehicles are subject to different tests, written and practical in order to obtain the additional endorsements.

Violations of the HTA (highway traffic act) are applied to the licence and ultimately the licencee; consequences for infractions range from warnings, fines, demerit points, suspensions, revocation and/or criminal code charges.

A mechanism exists whereby physicians can raise a flag to the province regarding a patients medical concern that could impair his or her driving ability. I also believe that persons of a certain age (80) must by law, re-test driving proficiency every few years.

Vehicles, for use on the road must be registered. In order for vehicles to be registered, if not prohibited by VIN already, they must pass a safety check, be e-tested, taxed, fees paid, and be free of liens.

Remember, broad strokes here.

In the context of firearms, a licence is currently framed as a Possession Acquisition Licence. This allows the bearer the ability to possess or acquire firearms for the class of firearms held, Non-Restricted, Restricted and Prohibited. These licences are issued to individuals that pass the firearms safety course and test for the class of licence for which they’ve applied. The RCMP screens the application, calls references and if all the check boxes are met, the licence is issued. For renewals every 5 years, they require a spousal sign-off, updated photograph and that the applicant has been a good law abiding citizen. This is hardly an assessment of mental health or risk to the public.

PAL licences are either pending, issued/valid, expired or revoked. The possession of firearms with a licence in any other state than “issued” is a crime in Canada, subject to charges and confiscation. Even an expired licence is seen in this light; your licence is no longer valid in this state. Some jurisdictions even perform firearm round-ups, targeting expired Restricted PAL licence holders, confiscating their guns and charging them. Doesn’t seem fair does it? An expired PAL seemingly converts an otherwise law abiding citizen into a menace to himself and others. The police don’t confiscate cars from people with expired drivers licences, nor do they confiscate fishing rods or reels when your fishing licence expires.

The possibility of incriminating yourself gets even worse when it comes to storage and transportation. Whether you abide by the letter of the law or go over an above with a 400lbs man-size safe, if you get robbed and your guns go missing, its the old go-to charge of Unsafe firearms storage. Suffice to say, if you leave any issue open to interpretation odds are, it will not go well for you.

So what could this brave new world of gun law in Canada look like?

What do people want in terms of gun control? Who better to ask than the gun control lobby:

The Coalition for Gun Control supports legislation that includes:

– licences that are periodically renewed for ALL gun owners
– a cost-effective system to register all guns
– a total ban on assault weapons and large capacity magazines
– controls on the sale of ammunition
– tougher restrictions on handguns.

In addition, the Coalition promotes:

– strict safe storage requirements
– education countering the romance of guns and the myth of arming for self-protection
– a ban on replica firearms
– measures to reduce the illegal importation of guns
– effective implementation of the law
– deterrence and prevention in the justice system.

Currently, the Coalition is focused on:

– protecting sensible gun control laws and measures from challenges and attacks by the gun lobby
– research and public education

From the sounds of that support statement, it looks like they already have just about everything they need; well, up until the death of the registry.

What do the police want in terms of gun control?

Long shot here, but I think they’d rather not have them exist, but we’re in a universe where they do exist, and legal or not, they are in the country, in the hands of law abiding citizens and criminals. Firearms come in all sizes and shapes, and they can all be used lawfully or unlawfully. The police want to keep the public and their members safe from gun crime.

What do the people want?

Well, you’re either pro or con. It’s a divisive issue and there doesn’t seem to be much middle ground. I think everyone recognizes that guns are here to stay and some form of management is required. Firearm bans do not work. With bans, all control is lost and nothing but illegal guns are left.

The Pro-Gun Side
– Public safety
– don’t want to be criminalized by red-tape
– want charter rights upheld
– Common sense

The Con-Gun Side
– No guns
– No guns of a certain kind
– Public Safety
– Mandatory Registration
– Restrictions on guns of a certain kind
– Ammunition Controls

Again, in broad strokes there are extremes in both camps so it’s tricky to reduce it to the real issues. Where a particular camp decides to focus attention, whether sensationalized by the media, or rally for one cause or another, that’s where the noise will be. This cycle just repeats itself over and over… and the squeaky wheel gets the oil.

What makes these devices so controversial?

When someone decides to impose their will on one or more persons using a firearm, the threat of serious injury or death exists. Generally, use of firearms in crime, perhaps with the exception of premeditated homicide or suicide, are for coercion or intimidation purposes where the criminal may not set out to kill the victim. Domestic violence, robbery, kidnapping, rape, drive-by shootings, disputes, etc… The same applies to the police, through their use-of-force guidelines, when at gun-point you are coerced to comply under threat of injury or death.

Murders, rampages, and “sprees” are different, there is intent to kill and a gun is used, the outcome is often fatal; regardless the shooters “cause”. Suicides involving firearms occur, but no controls short of hospitalization can stop someone intent on suicide as they can accomplish it by other means.

There is no Undo button for fired bullets. They are fast and final.

So who is the real problem here?

– Organized Crime & Gangs
– Individuals or Groups with violent ideologies
– Individuals with skewed value of life principals
– The law abiding Canadian PAL (or RPAL) holder
– Suicides
– Poor decision makers
– Accidents
– Hunters
– the police

more to come…

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