Posts Tagged ‘Gun Control’

In the wake of the October 22nd shooting in Ottawa, the internets have been a-buzz with chatter surrounding the Long-gun Registry and whether the data it contained would have been of any assistance in preventing the senseless actions of the day.

Yes.  The LGR (Long-gun Registry) was abolished in the parts of Canada that respect Federal Law back in November 2011. The Restricted and Prohibited firearms registry still exists and is busier than ever as evidenced by excessive wait times and turn-around on documents. The bill C-19 re-wrote parts of the FA (Firearms Act) to reflect this and other required changes to keep the act cohesive. The data contained within the LGR contained a link between a Firearms Licence,one or many Registration Certificates issued on a 1:1 basis to each registered firearm.

  • Each long-gun has a serial number (most do, some don’t)
  • Each long-gun is issued a certificate
  • Each long-gun is assigned to a licence
  • A licence is held by an authorized/trained person

Without rehashing the entirety of FA (Firearms Act), there are 3 classifications of firearms in Canada.

  1. Non-Restricted.  Most rifles and shotguns
  2. Restricted: Most handguns and other rifles and shotguns deemed restricted (Registered)
  3. Prohibited: Automatic firearms, some compact pistols and pistols of certain calibers. (Registered)

The LGR was focused on the registration of Non-Restricted firearms, which weren’t tracked and distributed widely among the citizenry from coast-to-coast under the previous FAC system.

In a perfect world of citizen compliance to government command, everyone would have obtained a licence, registered or surrendered their guns and complied with transfer protocols when buying, selling or trading firearms.   Lost and stolen firearms are to be reported and these missing guns would be flagged to CPIC (a national crime information network) .  Infracting Licence holders are severely punished with a variety of charges and their firearms confiscated until their innocence is proven.

Everything is great. We know where all the guns are and that only authorized persons can access and use them.  Licence holders are terrified and keeping their heads down. Furthermore, in this fictional orgasm of government control, Quebec has even more draconian measures in place requiring ATTs (authorization to transport) on all firearms, allowing only rifles and shotguns to be carried in specified areas, as indicated on the ATT.  Magazine limits are capped at 3 rounds on everything.  Semi-automatics are banned, or adapted with a bolt-hold device that requires a separate action to chamber the next round.

The events of October 22nd never occurred as the individual had taken the training, passed, and applied for a firearms licence, but upon checking his references, it was discovered that he had a criminal history and was disqualified from owning firearms as part of a previous sentence.  He was not issued a PAL.

He was unable to acquire the lever-action rifle for use that day.

There is no utopia.  October 22nd would have happened with or without the registry, here’s why, and it’ll be a shocker to some readers:

Criminals do not comply with the law.

They don’t register their guns.  They don’t care about magazine capacity limits.  They don’t care about carrying laws.  They don’t care if the guns are stolen.  They don’t care if they sell or give a gun to someone who doesn’t have a valid licence.  I can keep going, but suffice to say, murder is illegal, and some people still do it.

How did the shooter get the gun?   He probably didn’t have a PAL, the RCMP will certainly confirm this, if it’s fact. He probably didn’t buy the rifle at LeBaron. If the firearm was ever in the now-defunct registry, it would show the certificate and to which licence it was attached. With or without the registry, indeed, the firearms current location is now known.  They’d be able to go back and determine where it came from, but unfortunately, this knowledge does not recall the expended bullets  and their ensuing consequences.

The means by which he came into possession of the firearm is a whole other mystery fraught with speculation.  Was it stolen?  Was it illegally sold to him?  Was it imported illegally?  The fact he opted to attack Parliament with a 100 year-old (model) lever-action rifle suggests that he didn’t have much choice and went with the best available option at the time.

The internet buzzes with: “We register our cars?  That works, why can’t it work for guns?”

Right, because criminals don’t change VIN numbers, steal licence plates or run chop-shops either.  Vehicle registration only goes so far; vehicles enter and leave jurisdictions, get de-registered for legitimate reasons, and is just as daunting to keep correct as vehicles out-number firearms and wear out much sooner with varying fates.  Vehicle registration is mostly for revenue generation anyways, mitigating fraud and theft are secondary features.

All laws assume compliance and infractions, when charged and prosecuted are sentenced on a sliding scale of severity, which aspires to deter infractions in the first place.

In a recorded event put on by OFAH, Ontario’s CFO, Chris Wyatt relays a situation where a Restricted licence holder was buying multiples of the same model of handgun for delivery to a gang.  He was caught, but if these transfers don’t trigger flags within the registration system, guns can be getting into the wrong hands.  These are cases of legal guns, becoming illegal.  A tightly managed registry still leaks and is fraught with bureaucracy to those familiar with restricted transfers and transport permits.

Illegal guns pour in from the US;  news reports the occasional bust or worthy haul, and like drugs, they’ll just find a way to get them in country because people are demanding them and are willing to pay top dollar. We continue to spend millions to nanny licence holders, manage registries, issue transport permits all while illegal guns keep finding their way in;  the priorities seem all wrong.

We’ve let it happen.  The law abiding citizen can’t compete, the field is slanted. We don’t even give bullets to the soliders guarding our National monuments!  We don’t trust our soldiers with bullets for their C7s on Elgin street?  How does no-one recognize a rifle shot and step-up their levels of alertness?  They don’t even know what it sounds like.

Everyone obeys the law right?

The firearm has been demonized, made an instrument of terror and right hand of the “terrorist” (Islam or otherwise, this guy was off his rocker and un-well IMO). Watching video of my fellow countryman scatter on the front-lawn of our Nations Capital, unable to defend themselves at the sight of a rifle sickens me to my core.

You cannot register the intent of a man’s soul, it’s up to the rest of us to be just, measured, responsible while looking out for each other, and valuing life despite our differences.

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The AR-15 is a semi-automatic rifle chambered in 5.56mm designed by ArmaLite in the late 1950’s.  The design was acquired by Colt and entered into military service as a select-fire (fully automatic capable) rifle known as the M-16.

Colt then offered the civilian version, the originally designed AR-15 for sale in 1963.  The name “AR-15” is a Colt trademark, but many variant patterns of the rifle are made and sold by other manufacturers.

The M-16 and Ar-15 look nearly identical to the untrained eye.  The Hollywood use of the M-16 is seen in many movies, and usually accompanied with depictions of endless automatic fire. This, in plays a part in the confusion and misinformation.

So, for the most part, AR-15’s are semi-automatic rifles chambered in 5.56mm or .223 Remington

Briefly, there are SOME AR-15’s that had been converted to automatic firearms, but these are limited and reclassified by the ATF as of May 1986;  new AR-15’s cannot be legally converted to automatics.   These are AR-15’s that are essentially M-16’s now and their ownership is tightly regulated.  These, and M-16s are “Prohibited” in Canada, and simply unobtainable.  AR-15’s are Restricted firearms in Canada.  Obtainable, but essentially range queens.

The “Assault Rifle” label is incorrectly applied to both of these rifles interchangeably, but the reality is, only the M-16 is a true assault rifle.  The AR-15 is a semi-automatic rifle that is unfortunately named “AR-15”.  Maybe the civilian version of the “AR-15” should be called the “SR-15”, meaning “Sporting Rifle – 15”.

File:M16A1 brimob.jpgFile:1973 Colt AR15 SP1.jpg

Whatever happened to asking questions and civil dialog?    Are peoples emotions so in control of them that they queue jump the ladder of escalation and resort to shooting to get their point across?    Is it because we live in a world where immediate gratification is become so common place that we don’t think of consequences any more?

In today’s world, information, communication can be obtained and exchanged in real-time, we don’t have to wait.  Not that long ago, if you didn’t want to use the phone, you could write and mail a letter.  Depending where it was going, this could take some time. A reply would be at least as long as the trip there.  Waiting was a fact.

I remember living overseas, ordering parts for an R/C car.  It would take months to get a catalog from Tower Hobbies.  You had time to save money, to really think and fantasize about what you wanted, how you’d build it, dream of running it, until one day, the catalog arrives!

You fill out your order, run to the Post Office with your Deutsche Marks to get a US dollar Money Order, that you’d then send back, snail mail to Tower.  More waiting, longer waiting… driving yourself and everyone around you stark mad.  Your family wants the order to arrive so they can get some relief.

No shit, 4 to 6 months later, you’d get a package, and no matter how mangled the box was, you were happy that it had finally arrived.

This was a fact of life.  You had to wait for stuff.

Now that real-time (or near real-time) we’re not used to waiting.   We don’t go to the bus stop and wait anymore. The transit system has the buses monitored by transponder, and one way this data is used is to inform an “App” so you can monitor the bus, and set out for it without additional waiting. Handy, a good use of existing data, and informs it’s customers.

We don’t give it a second thought.

A thought crosses our minds, “I wonder what so-and-so is doing?”.  What used to be a passing whim; probably because you were mowing the lawn would get deferred until you finished your job, cleaned up and called so-and-so on the phone inside the house.   Today, we reach into our pockets, grab a rectangular device that we tap on, and if so-and-so receives notification of our message, and replies, we can receive an answer to our query in near real-time.

We have “Apps” that capture peoples “Tweets”;  a deluge of disjointed thoughts, some purposeful, some for amusement, some are disgusting; like people, they come in all shades.  Now the collective idling is spent airing, what seems for most, to be their inside voices.  It’s both re-assuring and disturbing to realize now similar we all are.

It doesn’t stop with technology;  you can drive up to a restaurant, order via intercom system, and have your meal ready to go to your waistline in under 2 minutes.   Hunger can no longer be delayed, and people eat till they’re stuffed rather than satisfied.

Everything is becoming much more relevant, more here-and-now, more trusted and the consequences of this usage/application are never dire enough for anyone to really care.

This lack of care and a desire for immediate gratification have paved the way for how things are with guns today, especially pointing the finger to our friends south of us, the United States.   The cycle for immediate gratification when emotions and firearms are added to the context is disastrous.   As humans we are both gifted and cursed with emotions, and through observation, there are seems to be two types of emotional people;  those that are driven by their emotions, and those that are guided by there emotions.  The difference is found between the words “driven” and “guided”.    One of the challenges we have as humans is to gain a mastery over our emotions, and in the authors opinion be “guided” by our emotions, you as the human being must be in control, no matter the influence.

The immediate gratification has slipped into the ranks of the police, where at one time policing skills employed communication, trust and a caring for the people they have sworn to protect has seemingly eroded into a melee of suppress and detain by any means necessary.  Countless instances of police dash cam footage show officers escalating use-of-force in situations that didn’t call for it; often resulting in injury to and sometimes death of the subject.    Use of the Taser has replaced policing skills and is the first offender on the list of Shoot First, ask Questions Later.   The application of Tasers within policing has in-fact done more harm to the public’s view of policing in general, which has lead to escalating civil disobedience as police are seen as no-longer upholding their original mandate. This feeds a self-fulfilling prophecy.  It feeds an emotionally driven police officer who needs to have a situation resolved immediately, side-step the basics of dealings with a human being, treats that person like an animal, and wonders why that person wants to rip his face off.

The media reporting of shootings in the US seems to be on rise since the Newton attack.  Is it just the reporting is wider now given the gun control agenda or is it par for the course?  80 deaths a day by firearm in the US is the widely reported figure.

Now we have our ingredients for this casserole:

1 Part desire for immediate gratification

1 Part lack of care for consequences

1 Part Policing role-model

1 Part emotionally driven reaction to life events

1 Part media coverage

Make sure you started cooking it on December 15, 1791 ensuring that firearms are available and plentiful.

The US can add all the firearms laws it wants, it won’t change a thing.   People need to change.  Society needs to change. Firearms are not tools used for everyday problem solving.    We need to stop this spiral of devolution, soon we’ll be back to grunting and crushing each other’s skulls in with rocks.

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.

(more…)

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.