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Kudos to the BC Wildlife Federation for writing a great letter to the Prime Minister reminding him of his promises to freedom-loving Canadians everywhere. I'm trying to get a copy of the actual letter from the BCWF, so at the moment all I have to go on is what was contained in their press release. I'll add a link to this article when they send that letter to me.
One of the highlights of that letter, taken from the press release, is:
- shifting the focus to criminals and addressing violent crime and not Canadians who happen to own firearms.
That is, of course, the single biggest problem we Canadian firearm owners have with both the current legislation AND the way law enforcement applies that legislation.
Like it or not, the men and women making up our police forces across the nation are made of up flesh-and-blood human beings. We place very high expectations on these men and women (as we should), and in the process we often forget that they, like us, will usually take the path of least resistance when doing their jobs.
A small percentage of these men and women, just like a small percentage of the general population, are of questionable character and morals. Power goes to their heads and they think they can do anything they want without consequence.
This blog is filled with my thoughts on those cases!
People often label me as "anti-police" and other less flattering labels... because I dare hold our police accountable to the same standards you and I are held to under the law. Does that make me "anti-police"? I don't think so.
Back to my point, however...
The "path of least resistance" when it comes to enforcing the Firearms Act is pretty simple.
There are two groups of people you can go after to combat so-called "gun crime". Unfortunately, only one of those groups contains violent criminals. The other contains law-abiding citizens who despise thugs murdering innocents like Jane Creba, for example, in downtown Toronto.
It takes no great leap to understand that good men and women, both gun lovers and gun haters, abhor gang members with guns!
The trouble is that it takes a LOT of effort to go after violent criminals who have firearms. That path has a lot of "resistance" built-in.
The path of least resistance then, is to go after so-called "criminals" for violating the letter of the law as contained in the Firearms Act.
Take the case of Toronto's Henry Barnes, a 76-year-old man recovering from heart surgery. He's lawfully owned firearms his entire life, yet he had his home torn apart by a Toronto SWAT team for reasons nobody knows, and he was charged with unsafe storage of firearms.
Because police needed to charge him with something or face a lawsuit. So, unsafe storage it is...
He, like so many other law-abiding firearm owners across Canada, is the easy target. Law-abiding firearm owners aren't going to shoot back, no matter how many firearms we have in our collection.
It's simply NOT in our nature.
But it makes for great news headlines and conviction rates, doesn't it?
In Henry's case, the Crown contends that since his storage methods, while meeting the letter of the law, don't match what the Crown thinks he SHOULD HAVE done, is saying that Henry is an evil man who must be punished.
Clearly I find this case, and every other one like it, absurd and utterly ridiculous. Not to mention a waste of valuable police and justice department resources.
By attacking the most law-abiding class of Canadians, our police and courts are almost totally ignoring the real, violent criminals roaming our streets. Those folks get a free pass while SWAT teams deal with folks like 76-year-old Henry Barnes.
Is he really that dangerous? I don't think so.
Hope and Change?
I, like the BCWF, hope that Prime Minister Harper will shift the focus from innocent Canadians to the ones who actually pose a real and imminent threat of danger to our society.
There are a number of simple steps the Prime Minister can take to address this. The BCWF does a good (not great) job of explaining them in their letter to Harper.
“Specifically, we look forward to working with the government to introduce legislation to make the following changes once the long-gun registry has been scrapped:
“Eliminate firearm licences or change the duration to life-time licences; absent-minded owners are not a threat to public safety, violent criminals are;
“Eliminate the automatic check of legal firearms owners when a person is stopped for a traffic offence and replace it with an instant check of criminal/parole/probation records; hunters and target shooter are not a threat to public safety, violent criminals are;
“-Renounce the agreement to implement the UN marking regulations (Firearm Markings Regulation SOR 2004-275) that was passed in 2004;
“-Introduce legislation to fix the long-existing technical problems in the current gun laws that were contained in MP Garry Breitkreuz’s 2009 private member’s bill C-301;
“Cancel the introduction of the proposed new gun show regulations;
“Curtail the RCMP’s attempts to unilaterally reclassify firearms.”
I applaud the BCWF for taking a stand on this issue and addressing the Prime Minister directly.
Do I blame the RCMP for their actions against law-abiding firearm owners? The RCMP as an organization? No, I don't.
I do, however, take great issue with the way some individual RCMP members (and those of other Canadian police forces) do their job in relation to law-abiding firearm owners.
Like RCMP Constable Geoff Mantler, for example. That thug should be sent to prison for a very long time for kicking Buddy Tavares in the face with absolutely NO provocation. He should be removed from the RCMP and be sent to jail. Period.
But the Geoff Mantlers of our police forces are the exception, not the rule.
They MUST be held accountable for their actions, without a doubt, just as you or I would be in the same circumstances.
But they are the exception and we all, me included, need to remember that.
As for the RCMP as a whole, they are merely acting in their own self-interest when they arbitrarily reclassify firearms or take other similar actions they have no authority to take.
They would be happier if there were NO firearms in civilian hands, simply because they believe that would keep RCMP members safer.
The trouble with that line of thinking is by acting that way, they make enemies of a very large group of Canadians who, in generations past, were their biggest supporters.
I grew up in a home filled with RCMP constables. My father was an RCMP Auxiliary, and we had cops over at the house all the time. But in those days they didn't view hunters and target shooters as the enemy.
Today they do.
Therein lies the problem with Canada's Firearms Act and the way it is enforced in Canada.
The great thing about this last election, however, is that there is finally an opportunity to solve that problem.
If, and ONLY if, Prime Minister Harper has the guts to stand up for the seven million or so law-abiding firearm owners in this country who have never killed anyone, we can finally get gun owners and police back on the same side.
After all, millions of Canadian Firearm Owners haven't killed anyone today.
They didn't kill anyone yesterday.
They're not going to kill anyone tomorrow either.
If you agree with me, write Prime Minister Stephen Harper and ask him to take the action that the BCWF suggests.
If you don't, please leave me your comments below and tell me why not.
I'd love to know.