Do our gun laws really need fixing?
Sheldon Clare, president of Canada’s National Firearms Association, is determined Canadians should share the same love affair with guns as do our neighbours to the south.
Also known as Capt. Sheldon D. Clare, with an extensive military background including involvement with the U.S. military, Clare gave an “exclusive interview” last week with Yahoo News over the Internet. His thoughts smacked of cultivating a U.S.-gun mindset in Canada.
Clare says Canada’s gun laws are too strict, armed guards in Canadian schools would serve a purpose to protect children, and gun laws here “should be moving toward America’s, not the other way around,” reported Yahoo News.
It’s debatable if Canada’s gun laws are “too strict”, but they are in place for a reason. No gun law on this planet can promise total immunity from firearms violence. But this nation’s laws are in place to prevent as much violence as possible.
Clare’s comments that our laws should be moving toward America’s is frightening. The mass slaughter of American children and adults in the past 18 months by madmen carrying enough firepower to supply a small army clearly illustrates U.S. gun laws require some revision.
President Barack Obama is proposing tougher laws for the U.S. The suggestions were greeted with a hail of fire by the 4.5-million-strong National Rifles Association, adamant their guns are sacred, protected under the Constitution and are “hands off”.
The 50,000-strong NFA found a place in the debate, and urged members to back the NRA in its battle.
Clare’s argument that firearms ownership is a culture “which is a long proud one in Canada” falls flat. That was the case eons ago when a gun meant bagging a moose for winter meat. Today, firearms do not represent an icon in the Canadian culture. And any suggestion tight gun laws are intruding upon that “gun culture” established hundreds of years ago is ludicrous.
Calling Canadian gun laws excessive, Clare said “In terms of the situation in Canada, we have been operating under successive, oppressive firearms control regimes for decades.”
He further argues none of the laws “have done anything whatsoever to have any effect upon firearms crime rates, or violent crimes at all.”
So does that mean loosening up the laws similar to the U.S. would successfully make a dent in the prevention of gun violence? Obviously the U.S. laws aren’t working either.
Clare also opposes background checks for potential gun owners and a mandatory licensing system to own a firearm. Background checks, he said, “ . . . don’t really work. In effect they are a feel-good legislation. People feel they will stop someone somehow. They haven’t.”
Background checks were required long before the Liberal government’s revamping of the 1995 gun legislation. It wasn’t a big deal.
Clare also protests the 1995 legislation which required all firearms owners to have a licence “merely to own their own property.” But that was the case long before the 1995 legislation. Then (the licence) was called a Firearms Acquisition Certificate. And again, it was no big deal, and all gun owners were required to have one.
Potential gun owners are also required to take a gun safety course which Clare also opposes. “The key thing for firearms use is a voluntary education system, rather than anything compulsory or legislated. The heavy hand of the state doesn’t need to be doing this.”
Is the NFA and the NRA guarding “tradition”? Or are their noses out of joint and pride stinging by being bullied by government legislation?
Despite his push for slacker laws, Clare conceded in his interview that gun violence in Canada is on the downward trend.
In all fairness, his explanation to the trend is, well, puzzling, if not obscure.
“Quite frankly we don’t have a huge problem with violence in Canada,” he said. “It has been dropping over the years, mainly due to an aging population. That seems to be the main factor.” Does that mean the seniors have cut down on gun use?
According to Clare, things are fine in Canada, so why fix the gun laws when they’re not busted?
Rick Zemanek is a former Advocate editor.