Gun committee needed balance

There’s no doubt Red Deer’s Linda Baggaley is a highly qualified firearms expert — ranking among the best in Canada.

There’s no doubt Red Deer’s Linda Baggaley is a highly qualified firearms expert — ranking among the best in Canada.

Baggaley, who runs Bud Haynes Auctions, Canada’s oldest firearms auction house with an exemplary record, has the knowledge that earned her a seat in the 14-member Canadians Firearms Advisory Committee. It was that committee responsible for advising the federal government on our current guns laws.

Recently Baggaley was given notification her services were no longer required as the Harper Government began a major overhaul on the committee. In addition to Baggaley, a Saskatchewan gunsmith and an Ontario sportsman were given their walking papers with no explanation other being thanked for their voluntary service on the (CFAC) by an assistant to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews.

“I think this has come down from the prime minister,” said Baggaley. “It was a blindside definitely. I really didn’t think I’d be one of the gones. I have no hard feelings for minister Toews. I’m sure it’s a top-down decision.”

Replacing the three are Calgary’s police chief, the Winnipeg Police Association president and the Abbotsford Police department’s chief constable.

The three turfed should have at least been afforded the courtesy of an explanation. But in retrospect, the CFAC cut its own throat by recently making the absurd recommendation that some prohibited weapons, including handguns and assault rifles be reclassified to make them more easily available to Canadians.

The committee also recommended firearms licences should be good for at least 10 years as opposed to the five years.

What on earth were they thinking?

Canada boasts as having among the toughest gun laws in North America — and for good reasons.

While statisticians may argue the point, Canada’s gun-related crime is among the lowest in the world, and a large portion of that can be attributed to the tough laws.

Yes, handguns can be linked to 70 per cent of gun-related killings. But Canadians must not lose sight of the fact the vast major of those weapons are either possessed illegally, or obtain illegally.

The gun advisory committee recommendations were absurd, in light of the recent mass slaughters at U.S. schools

It was rightfully determined the committee, which answers to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews for insight on our gun laws, was top heavy with pro-gun advocates.

There needed to be a fair balance, and thus the appointment of the police authorities.

Canada deserves the right to hear from both sides of the story — the ones that are pro-gun, and the ones that have to deal with gun violence in the line of work. It’s a fair trade-off.

When the news broke the firearms advisory committee wanted to slack our gun laws, Harper responded accordingly with revulsion — promising a review of the committee’s membership made up of pro-gun owners and those opposed to gun control.

“Let me be clear as I can be,” Harpers responded to the recommendations.

“Prohibited weapons exist as a category under the law for essential reasons of public security. The government has no intention of weakening that category of protections.”

Baggaley is correct. The orders came down from Harper.

But so what? How is it that Harper is the “bad guy” in this debate defending gun tough gun laws for the protection of the public?

As a former member of the committee, can Baggaley justify to the public the recommendations made by her committee she feels so wronged about by being given her walking papers? We eagerly await.