and All Canadian Wildlife and Sporting Organizations
by Al Muir
On 15 May 1995 Parliament’s Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs held a hearing on the Liberals’ Bill C-68. Speaking for the National Coalition of Provincial and Territorial Wildlife Federations in vehement opposition to this unjust law, Mr. Rick Morgan of the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters said:
The National Coalition is opposed to the proposed mandatory licensing provisions (as) an unjustified, expensive, ineffective . . . unparalleled intrusion into the private lives of Canadians . . .
To force legitimate, responsible firearms owners into a licensing regime . . . is costly, unnecessary and wrong . . . It is a waste of time, money and effort that will not produce measurable improvement in public safety.
Never before have responsible Canadians faced the possibility of having to justify their need . . . just to be allowed to retain ownership . . . The issue strikes close to the centre of Canadian concepts of personal choice, rights and freedoms.
Mr. Morgan was indeed correct. Bill C-68 did produce an astounding turnaround in the public perception and treatment of gun owners. Where our neighbors once trusted us, we are now all [considered] potentially dangerous.
The mere possession of a firearm suddenly became a criminal act, with the owners only recourse to seek temporary immunity through a licence, which brings them under constant surveillance.
The Auditor General stated that those responsible for implementing the Firearms Act believed gun ownership to be a questionable activity. This bias had been directly imbedded in the Firearms Act and the related amendments to the Criminal Code.
Sections 91 and 92 of the Criminal Code criminalized mere possession of a firearm, and section 117 provided ongoing directives to eliminate more easily owners and classes of firearms.
Over long years of fruitless struggle, many of the gun owner associations adopted a strategy of calling for a series of incremental changes, which they believed would eventually overturn all the provisions of the law.
In the face of the increasingly repressive gun laws enacted over several decades – coupled with the intensifying worldwide restrictions on private firearms ownership – this strategy required a tremendous leap of faith. These organizations simultaneously came to acquiesce fully to Mr. Harper and his minority government’s claim that its hands were tied to the point they could not make meaningful changes, not even Orders in Council.
In order to support the series of “scrap the long-gun registry” bills that Mr. Harper’s minority Government introduced, these gun organizations openly signaled their “acceptance” of the very licencing scheme they had previously railed against.
Yet this dubious “incremental strategy” of accepting a “good first step” has now made eliminating licencing exponentially more difficult. Many newly elected Conservative Members of Parliament have never even heard of licencing, much less understand the importance of the Right to have the means of armed self-protection.
Given the fortuitous luck that saved gun owners from the passage of a firearms bill under a minority government, we have, using the word loosely, safely arrived at a majority Conservative government. Mr. Harper and the Conservatives have nothing left to hide behind.
The Conservatives now must either deliver on their past promises to repeal the entire Bill C-68, or ignobly expose themselves in not doing so.
We pleadingly call upon the OFAH, the CSSA, the NFA, and all wildlife and sporting federations and associations to remember their original, well-founded opposition to licencing.
Join us as we fight for our Canadian heritage and culture. Accept no less than the total repeal of the entire Bill C-68.
** Al Muir is a spokesman for CUFOA, the Canadian Unlicensed Firearms Owners Association