I’m going to take a very simplistic view on this issue because, I believe, the media and thus the public at large will also take a very simplistic view.
It’s about time there was an outright ban on handguns in Canada.
In our day-to-day lives, there is absolutely no need for ordinary citizens to carry, own or store a handgun. In Canada we have a tradition of a strong and proud Royal Canadian Mounted Police. They are there for our protection and security and to enforce the laws of the land. By banning all hand guns, it makes arresting and convicting criminals *before* they commit a violent crime, that much easier. If all an RCMP officer has to do is prove that the suspect possesses a banned firearm, then, one would assume, that would be much easier than, say, gathering evidence of drug trafficking, or gang shootings after the fact. This legislation must provide the resources for the RCMP to do that, and it must compel the Justice system to bring down significant punishment on those who are known to possess banned firearms. No, I don’t condone filling our jails… rather, I believe strict monitoring of suspects for specific lengths of time should be included in punishments. If the convicted is seen either with a hand gun, or with others possessing hand guns, then jail time ensues. This should also be a good way to “track” where illegal guns are and who else has them.
All of this is in a perfect world of course.
This is in contrast to the United States, where the Constitution has often been used to legitimize the use of all manner of firearms in order for Americans to protect themselves. That is an American issue and I don’t want comment on it now, but I think this legislation, and the support that it will have in the urban centers of Canada will demonstrate another difference between us and our cousins to the South.
This brings me to the issue of fair use of firearms. There are many non-dangerous uses for firearms. They can be split into three categories:
Hand guns are useless as Hunting weapons. So this ban should not affect the use of firearms for that purpose. What’s more, Canadians, from the wilds of the Canadian Shield, to the Arctic tundra, to the West Coast, *do* have a long tradition of providing for themselves, and guns are a modern, efficient and safe way of doing that.
For the other two categories, I have not seen a definitive breakdown in the legislation, so it is hard to gauge the effect this ban will have on them. Many collectors simply have their guns proudly displayed in their living rooms, basements and closets and have absolutely no desire to use them at all. However, many others likely want to be sure their collectibles are still fully functional. This is absolutely understandable, and I hope that this legislation does not prevent them from enjoying their hobby.
Which brings me to the final category of Recreation. Plenty of people go to gun ranges to practice shooting. This is great, indeed, it can be a lot of fun. And it’s absolutely necessary for those with legal firearms. The question is, how can someone participate in this sport without breaking the law. Well, without seeing the actual legislation, I can’t really say. But I could envision gun ranges having very secure lock boxes for owners to store and access their guns when they’re on the range as being a possible solution.
To end, I think this legislation is overdue. And if implemented correctly, with the added emphasis on the RCMP and other police forces to tackle violent crime, this should hopefully be a successful initiative. That is, of course, if the Liberals actually get elected, present the legislation in the House, and get it through.