Fired Up About Arms: Part One

I’m very liberal-minded on both the political and economic continua. That said, I oppose the Federal Long-Gun Registry here in the beautiful nation of Canada.

You weren’t expecting that, were you? Yup, here I am, blogging from my position out on the left wing about dissolving the gun registry. Strange days. Strange days.

This post is part one of two. Today, I’ll be discussing my views on firearms, and tomorrow I’ll follow up with my particular issues with the Federal Long-Gun Registry and the changes I feel are necessary to gun legislation in Canada.

Let me be honest: I don’t like guns. I don’t own a gun. I never will.

Guns make me nervous. I don’t like sudden loud noises. I am so clumsy that I manage to injure myself with innocuous household objects; I therefore have zero desire to operate a gun. I have about as much interest in going hunting and killing woodland creatures as I do in having my earlobes removed with an electric can opener. I therefore write this post not as a gun enthusiast but as a realist and a Canadian citizen.

Growing up, I was taught to respect firearms. Guns were only handled by sober, competent people in our house, and they were always stored safely and legally.

I spent my childhood on a lovely chunk of rural land outside a small Alberta town. Guns were part of country life. My dad, brother, and uncles own guns, obey the laws, and use their firearms responsibly. They always have. My dad, and later my brother, used rifles as tools to protect our property and animals from coyotes, porcupines, and, once, a diseased weasel that sauntered into the yard and attempted to scrap with my dog. I have a vivid memory of my brother dashing outside in his boxer shorts on a cold spring morning to shoot a coyote that foolishly decided to venture within range. Many of our meals were based on wild game, harvested legally during hunting season and stored by my momma in the giant deep freezer downstairs. We were safe and well-fed due in no small part to the responsible use of guns as tools in our home.

It is critically important to differentiate between guns used as tools for hunting, managing vermin, and target shooting, and guns used to cause emotional and physical harm. To me, a gun used for legal and legitimate purposes is a tool. A gun only becomes a weapon when it’s used to threaten, injure, or kill.

Consider a drawer in my kitchen. In that drawer are four very sharp, large knives. No one would argue with me that those knives, my slim serrated beauty, my broad lovely chef’s blade, and my two fantastic santoku knives, are tools I use to prepare food. Tools. Period.

Classifying my knives as tools doesn’t mean they’re not potentially dangerous. If I don’t maintain my knives properly, they could harm me. If I don’t pay attention while I’m using these tools, I could hurt myself badly, and, if things really didn’t go in my favour, I could injure myself fatally. I would never leave my knives where they could be accessed by children or people with developmental disabilities who could harm themselves or others unintentionally. Using my knives when I’m over-tired, distracted, or under the influence of any substance (despite the fact that I don’t use such substances) is like sending up a Bat signal, asking for trouble. Regardless of the inherent risks of using these tools, though, they are still tools.

If one of my knives was used in a crime, it would become a weapon. It would be an instantaneous shift, but in the wrong hands, my familiar friends from the kitchen drawer could become weapons faster than I could say julienne. Simply having the potential to be used with evil intent doesn’t mean that tools will be used to cause harm. Owning knives does not mean that I will commit crimes.

Firearms, used as tools, are much the same. The vast, vast majority of long-gun owners are law-abiding people who use their guns solely as tools. They should have the right to use those tools safely and within the parameters of the law without government intervention or mandatory registration.

I’m not suggesting that Canada adopt a US-style law that allows us to “bear arms.”  I oppose people carrying handguns around as everyday accessories; there is simply no need for such a thing. I have no need or desire to take my big blue knife to Wal-Mart or out for dinner and a movie with me. I’m not going to carve radish roses while I wait in traffic or trim my broccoli before I buy it. By the same token, a gun used as a tool doesn’t need to be dragged all over creation, either. It is not a piece of jewelry. It is not a status symbol.

What I would like to see is federal legislation that recognizes the necessary use of long guns as tools by the many Canadians who utilize them. Tomorrow, I’ll deal with the facts about the Federal Long-Gun Registry and how legislation could manage the concern of firearm-related crime while still discontinuing the registry.

If you want to learn more about the current state of the registry, read about it here at the Canadian Public Safety website.

Stop by tomorrow for the second half of this post. Thanks for reading.

copyright 2011:

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