Will it ever change?

Posted: December 11, 2012 in Firearms News
Tags: ,

Last week a list of recommendations from the Canadian Firearms Advisory Committee contained a number of items targeting increased public safety, reduction of costs, increasing licence periods to 10 years, simplification of the transport requirements and the reclassification of prohibited firearms.

Many of these recommendations make sense to the sport shooter. The ATT (authorization to transport) is a authorization required for restricted firearms to be transported from your residence to a range, gunsmith, to the post office to ship it, or a competition at a range. There are 2 types of ATTs, a long term, and a short-term. The aforementioned cases are generally short-term, one-time use. Long term ATT’s, unofficially named LTATTs, affords blanket coverage for a period of time; conditionally, these LTATTs are issued for, at least in Ontario, all CFO approved Restricted Ranges in Ontario. While the LTATT eases the process somewhat, it is still a piece of paper that should you not have it or have it expire, can and probably will be you charged and potentially prohibited from owning firearms.

Doing away with the whole ATT? It all depends how this would have been applied. It’s problematic from the outset; the provincial CFOs could all interpret this differently and we’d be no further ahead. Currently CFOs seem to have little consistency regarding how the Firearms act is interpreted and applied from province to province. In some jurisdictions, LTATTs cover all common sense places you could bring a restricted firearm, to the range, a gunsmith, point of export. Others like Ontario, will have you seek regular short term ATT’s to bring a restricted firearm to a gunsmith.

This would be substantial change for the sport shooter, but the real news is seemingly around the reclassification of some prohibited firearms to restricted.

Details over exactly what firearms being discussed is sketchy, but Prime Minister Harper wasted no time stating that his government was not interested in doing such a thing and that these firearms are classified prohibited to the good of public safety.

The prohibited class of firearms contains all sorts:

-automatic firearms
-certain military firearms (FN C1A1 for example)
-short barrelled handguns
-Tasers (prohibited device)
-Firearms that have had certain modifications made (sawed off shotgun, converted automatics)

Clearly, the prohibited class exists for a reason, the law abiding public certainly don’t need automatic firearms but the reality is that these firearms do exist and in some circumstances civilians need to be in possession of them. The RCMP has been heavy handed in some cases with what has been classified as prohibited.

The FN C1A1 is a perfect example of this. The FN was the rifle of issue for the Canadian Forces prior to their current C7 rifle. It’s 7.62×54 gas operated, semi automatic with folding sights, and flash suppressor. This firearm is no more or less dangerous than any other of it’s caliber and vintage, yet this important piece of Canadian war heritage is simply unobtainable.

All firearms have the potential the be dangerous. A choice makes them weapons. The RCMP is concerned over the proposed 10 year expiry on licences. How can they keep track of all those unstable gun owners? Unless there are incidents involving the police, how is the RCMP to be apprised of the status of one’s mental health to begin with? In a similar fashion that medical doctors are required to report unfit drivers to the Ministry of Transport, how is this different? Sure, some will slip through the cracks, and they do, and they still drive. I’d much rather a medical professional ascertain my mental health than a check-box on a form,police officer’s hunch or a suspicion of risk to public safety.

I can’t begin to imagine the horror of having a loved one or friend involved in a firearms related crime or shooting such as Dawson, or Polytechnique. It’s a senseless tragedy that no-one deserves. I can’t transpose myself or put myself in the shoes of anyone involved, but I can speculate at the range of emotion; the loss, the anger, the wanting for justice. Why did he do this to me (us)?

With the utmost respect for the victims and their families, I’d like to discuss Polytechnique.

Consider objectively for a moment if Polytechnique would have occurred in 2011 (pre C-19 2012, LGR defeat).

  • ML (I can’t type his name out of disgust) takes a course, passes and applies for a PAL
  • Waiting period begins.
  • Within 45 days, the RCMP does their checks, calls references – they all check out.
  • ML was clean, nothing on CPIC and the PAL is issued
  • Mini-14 obtained and registered.

The police now know the corpse has a registered Mini-14.

What if the Mini-14 was restricted? Does anyone determined on a murder-suicide care about filing for an ATT? The classification wouldn’t have mattered either. It was going to happen.  The Dawson college shootings where done with 3 firearms, 2 restricted (rifle and pistol) and a non-restricted shotgun.

What if guns were banned? He possibly couldn’t have inflicted that much damage without a semi-automatic rifle? He’d have found a way; an illegal gun, firebombed a room in the school, a bomb, used a knife, driven a vehicle, chlorine gas… The means by which the massacre would have taken place would have simply been different. I don’t want to speculate a worse outcome.

How much longer will it go on? How many more Charter Rights will we bill stripped of before we just lay down and concede defeat? Gun owners in Canada need to prove their innocence rather than the crown proving guilt. We do not have the right to defend person or property with firearms as our property is subject to confiscation at the whim of the police where the stand-by charge is unsafe storage of firearms. These are criminal code charges often the result of poor application of a convoluted, ill-defined Act.

Clearly this doesn’t work.  My next post will be an attempt to define something that might work.

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