Looking south…

Posted: January 13, 2013 in Firearms News
Tags: ,

With shootouts the emerging weekly norm for our American neighbours, the curtain seems to be closing on the way things are with guns in the US.  The President has tasked Biden with grooming a gun-control plan by the end of January (at least initially), while the Pro and Con sides are posturing and getting their messaging out while bullets whiz in various communities throughout the country.

What a mess.

There is talk of outright bans on semi-automatic firearms, high capacity magazines, and more funding for mental health initiatives as highlights.   Let talk be talk, and regardless, the outcomes will need to be implemented in some fashion.  The United Colours of Gunlaw.   Seemingly, each state has their own rules and reciprocal agreements recognizing out-of-state carry/concealed carry permits with variations in each jurisdiction.  Each state can have their own laws governing firearms, magazine limits, waiting periods, “One-Handgun-a-Month” and countless other add-ons making it a casserole of confusion with varying enforcement and criminal outcomes.

Canada is really no different.  The Firearms Act (FA) while seemingly centrally administered is delegated to Provincial Chief Firearms Officers (CFO) for issues within the jurisdiction.  Each CFO seems to operate differently often resulting in increasing levels of complexity and ambiguity as it applies to interpretation and enforcement.   Canada just operates within a broader set of funnel shaped constraints that simply obstruct,  annoy and incriminate anyone that shoots with any regularity.  This is all packaged and sold as increasing public safety.

In both Canada and the US, the laws are federal and left to the states/provinces for how they are applied.  Seemingly the states themselves  have more power than their CFO’s counterparts do in Canada as firearm types, and magazine limits can vary from state to state which makes matters more complex in terms of uniform law.

Let’s face a fact many cannot accept:  You cannot fully control firearm possession and use with law.  In the near future, technology will exist to print untraceable 3D firearms from the desktop.  Yes, there is talk of DRM like controls on these things, but like all technology, time circumvents even the best security.  The devices cannot be controlled in fashion required to make a registry effective.  People found ways of killing each other long before guns existed;  this will not stop either.  (here’s a teaser:  http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=439_1358113821)

It’s truly about how firearms are used and by whom.  Until those that govern us realize that guns, hammers, knives, fists, feet and the likes can all be used in manners making them lethal weapons, and that solely, the user is responsible for crossing the line that turns the device into a weapon.  It is only after the line has been crossed that the severity of an incident escalates as the type of firearm may have characteristics that make it more dangerous than another.

With an ear to the news, I’m curious how this will be sold in a constitutional manner to our American friends.


My last post ended on a question. Who are all these controls intended for?

In large part, the controls are in place for those who aren’t going to abide by them anyways. Law abiding citizens begrudgingly comply with the red-tape laws, and most don’t even flirt with the law while the criminal element short-circuits the issue and basically ignores it until a circumstance occurs where they are charged with a Firearms act violation and only then, does it matter to them. The law is basically a benchmark from which violations can be drawn against.

The wake of a terrible shooting spree in Connecticut where a 20 year old gunman entered an elementary school, shot and killed 20 children, has not hit shore yet. The initial reports suggest that this was a twisted spite/revenge killing where the subject’s mother and everything she loved (she was a school teacher where this happened  EDIT:  She was a teacher elsewhere in the state.  I believe the shooter was a student there at one time) was killed.

Our deepest thoughts and sympathies go out to the families affected by this vile crime.

From reports, the gunman didn’t own the firearms, but rather they were his mothers. The laws governing Connecticut are centered around acquisition, classification, licensing and transfer. Unlike Canada there don’t appear to be any safe storage laws that restrict access to firearms from unauthorized people.

Would secure storage have been a factor in preventing this senseless attack on our most vulnerable?

Safe storage in the US is a touchy issue as it infringes on 2nd amendment rights. A firearm in a bedside table, loaded, ready to go is lawful and practiced in the US, and adding safe storage to this recipe is pretty much a non-starter.

It’s an issue of care and control. The safest place for a firearm is at its owners side, where it is in the owners full care and control. When a firearm is in storage it is at its most vulnerable it is out of the owners physical control where anything can happen. Theft, unauthorized use, involvement in a crime, and countless other undesirable things. The best protection when in storage is a proper gun safe. The crux of this issue is establishing what a firearm in use, a firearm in transport and what a firearm in storage are. Is a loaded firearm on a bedside table considered in use while the owner is sleeping?

Would an ATT style system have worked here?

Not at all. The ATT system is a victim-less paper law, there is nothing other than breaking the law to stop someone from doing it. It does very little to increase public safety and stands to incriminate more lawful gun owners in the semantics of its application than it keeps guns off the streets.

This 20 year old, suffering a mental condition attempts to acquire firearms, Connecticut law halts the sale as he declines a background check and waiting period. Days later, he goes to his mothers house, presumably a dispute goes on where he comes to be in possession of a rifle and two pistols. He shoots and kills his mother, and then proceeds to the school to execute the rest of his plan.

What value of life principals did this young man live by? What kind of a system could have stopped or signaled this?

This is exactly why the rules need to be there to detect and prevent this sort of problem from escalating into tragedy.

Consider in this case, the gun store that turned the future gunman away. Should this state have had a protocol in place to deal with unusual ‘buy’ activity, this might have been the flag needed.

Of interest is the disposition of the firearms in the gunman’s mothers home. If these were locked up, and inaccessible to the gunman, might this have altered the outcome? Could he have coerced his mother into opening the storage, if any?

These questions seem so trivial in the wake of the events in Connecticut. Its really unthinkable but yet these tiny innocent souls are lost forever, families instantly resized, empty rooms, and gaps at the dinner table. I can’t imagine.

If giving up my guns forever could guarantee that this would never happen again, I would. Sadly though no-one can underwrite that guarantee.

Sadly Connecticut makes the case for more screening or reporting mechanisms for at-risk individuals, safe storage and transportation.

Meanwhile, my opening question is also being answered; the controls are for cases like this.

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.

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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.

In my usual perusal of Canadian firearms content, Google directed me to CanadianBullshit.com .  The author covers many topics, but his firearms write-up is fantastic.  Nothing is sugar coated, and I think most would agree with his assessment of the current state.
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Link  —  Posted: December 2, 2012 in Firearms News

My day job has me behind a few LCD computer monitors, managing software development.  SQL is one of the computer languages I use every day.  It’s language in which humans can communicate in English syntax to a database and pose it questions, manipulate data, and change the structure (like the box or container that data would fit into) of the database tables.

My mind cycled onto this one today, and this is one of those neat (at least I think so) cases where IT and firearms cross.

Consider what is being expressed as an IT challenge by the RCMP;   now I am assuming a whole lot, but if my team had designed the tables to house the firearms data, the following hypothetical situation arrives at my desk in the form of a pointy-haired-Boss.

“Paul, we need you destroy the firearms registry data.   We need you to exclude Quebec and obviously retain the restricted and prohibited status registry.” says pointy-haired-Boss. “Roger.”, I replied as a double-click was imposed upon  (yeah, the RCMP probably uses Microsoft SQL) Enterprise Manager (version 5.5).

The following could be that SQL, given some assumptions and syntax liberties to aid the reader:

        classification in ('prohibited','restricted')    

        left join licences on
            registry.pal_id = licences.pal_id and licences.prov = 'qc'

-- DROP what, if any, constraints would exist :p
drop table registry;


-- REAPPLY constraints :p

DROP TABLE restricted_firearms;

So now, we can export the Quebec table to Excel, CSV, MS Access or something equally as miserable and email it to them :0  The new restricted table contains both the prohibited and restricted (future planning for when they become one) registration certificates.  Obviously the licence and related person info is persisted, and the Quebec back up only contains links to Quebec PALs.  One would assume that Quebec has a way of looking up a PAL, and all we really need to give them is the table of firearms with the PAL numbers on it, and they can link it into whatever they use.

Get all the paper, backup tapes, hard drives, or media, and distribute them to the ranges across Canada as a gift from the Government.  Members will happily dispense with them.  (seriously though… don’t use unauthorized targets at your range, and always clean-up your mess)

If the RCMP has trouble with SQL, I am more than happy to lend a hand a split this data up.   :p

I doubt it’s that easy.


– P

The Guelph Mercury covered a story this weekend where an Airsoft replica firearm was seen being handled a black SUV in a school parking lot.  The paper covers the story really well, and I wanted to discuss the optics of this.

People need to remember that in Canada, firearms are taboo.  Really, the vast majority of Canadians have very little exposure, to and understanding of firearms.   Their education is mostly the news, Hollywood and politicians.  The reaction in this case is very understandable, suspicious activity, the possibility of a firearm, and all in the area of a school.  The police force in this case kept their cool, and the situation was diffused in seemingly short order.

It could have quickly gone the other way. A quick movement, coupled a finger on-the-trigger of an adrenaline filled cop and things would have been vastly different.

The way the Criminal Code of Canada has it, even a licenced Restricted firearms owner would have no circumstances in which the handling of a pistol in a vehicle would be acceptable.  One can even reasonably deduce that this poor decision to handle a “seemingly” real firearm in a SUV in a school parking lot is simply the first of many bad choices that could made in fairly short order with varying degrees of consequences that day.

So kids, the real lesson here is, once again, don’t be stupid.

If it looks like a gun, someone will think it IS a gun, and that person might be carry a badge and be allowed to and have a REAL gun.  Think about the optics of what you are doing.  If someone sees you acting in a manner with something that looks like a gun, you WILL have police to deal with.  It’s just that simple, you could easily become another statistic.

It’s for your own safety;  treat your replica guns, airsoft guns, and paintball guns the same way you would with the real deal.  Check that they are clear, keep them pointed in safe directions, transport them IN THE TRUNK of your vehicle, and don’t create a circumstance that can cause a miscommunication of your intentions.  It could cost your your life.

Be smart.  Be safe.  Don’t f#%k it up for the rest of us.