Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

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.

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

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.