Our Gun-Owning Neighbors To The North Are In For It

The Liberal Party headed by political legacy Justin Trudeau just ousted the Conservative Party of Prime Minister Stephen Harper in nationwide elections yesterday. The Liberal Party took 184 seats out of 338 which gives them a working majority. They will not have to try and form a coalition government with other smaller parties. The Conservatives retain only 99 seats or 29% of the seats in the Canadian Parliament’s House of Commons.

So what does that mean for Canadian gun owners? First, let’s remember that the Conservative government under Stephen Harper did away with the ineffective and outrageously expensive gun registry. Second, there is this from the Liberal Party platform:

We will take action to get handguns and assault weapons off our streets.

Over the last decade, Stephen Harper has steadily weakened our gun laws in ways that make Canadians more vulnerable and communities more dangerous.

We will take pragmatic action to make it harder for criminals to get, and use, handguns and assault weapons. We will:

  • repeal changes made by Bill C-42 that allow restricted and prohibited weapons to be freely transported without a permit, and we will put decision-making about weapons restrictions back in the hands of police, not politicians;
  • provide $100 million each year to the provinces and territories to support guns and gangs police task forces to take illegal guns off our streets and reduce gang violence;
  • modify the membership of the Canadian Firearms Advisory Committee to include knowledgeable law enforcement officers, public health advocates, representatives from women’s groups, and members of the legal community;
  • require enhanced background checks for anyone seeking to purchase a handgun or other restricted firearm;
  • require purchasers of firearms to show a license when they buy a gun, and require all sellers of firearms to confirm that the license is valid before completing the sale;
  • require firearms vendors to keep records of all firearms inventory and sales to assist police in investigating firearms trafficking and other gun crimes;
  • immediately implement the imported gun marking regulations that have been repeatedly delayed by Stephen Harper; and
  • as part of our investment in border infrastructure, invest in technologies to enhance our border guards’ ability to detect and halt illegal guns from the United States entering into Canada.

We will not create a new national long-gun registry to replace the one that has been dismantled.

We will ensure that Canada becomes a party to the international Arms Trade Treaty.

The only thing positive in that list is the claim that a Liberal government will not create a new long-gun registry.

I hate to say it but the next five years are not going to be good ones for Canadian gun owners. Or the rest of Canada for that matter.

Oh, Canada

Today is Canada Day. It marks the uniting of the British colonies of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick with the Province of Canada (which included both Ontario and Quebec) into the Dominion of Canada on July 1, 1867 by way of the British North America Act of 1867. It is Canada’s national holiday.

So on this Canadian holiday I thought it appropriate to look again at the seizure of resident’s firearms in the Province of Alberta.

The RCMP announced on Sunday that they would start returning some of the firearms seized from residents of the town of High River.

An RCMP news release says that owners of guns that were seized should call police, and that an officer will call them back to make arrangements to have the weapons picked up.

The Mounties said earlier that they took the guns as officers searched homes in High River’s flood zone to look for flood victims, pets and anything that might pose a threat to returning residents.

Any guns were removed from homes because they were not properly stored, said Staff Sgt. Brian Jones, who added that no charges are planned.

“There is no indication of that at this point in time. That wasn’t the reason. That wasn’t the intention,” Jones said about the gun seizures.

The Prime Minister’s Office has now gotten involved in this affair. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is a resident of Alberta. His Canadian Parliament riding of Calgary Southwest adjoins the riding in which High River is located.

The move to take the weapons was condemned by the Prime Minister’s Office, who said the Mounties should focus on more important tasks such as protecting lives and private property.

Harper’s criticism of the RCMP’s move brought criticism itself.

Darryl Davies, a Carleton University criminology professor, considered the condemnation from the Prime Minister’s Office to be highly inappropriate.

“It’s completely and utterly inappropriate for the PMO to issue operational instructions to the RCMP,” Davies said Sunday.

Have we arrived at a point in Canada where the PMO can interfere in criminal investigations as well?”

Davies said he thought it must be embarrassing for the RCMP to be admonished by the PMO in the media, and that it undermines the force’s credibility and impartiality.

Davies, who has long criticized the RCMP himself, is also a strong proponent of gun control. He is on record as favoring the banning of all semi-automatic firearms. Davies also served as the Senior Communications Officer on Firearms, Communications Branch Department of Justice. Thus, I think Davies’ criticism in context is more about his anti-gun beliefs than anything to do with political interference with the RCMP.

Unlike the United States where the Constitution is a single document with a number of amendments, the Canadian Constitution is an amalgamation of Acts of Parliament from both Great Britain and Canada. In 1982, Canada passed the Constitution Act, 1982, which contained the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It can be said that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is their equivalent to our Bill of Rights – with exceptions. While it speaks of things like freedom of association and “the right to life, liberty, and the security of the person”, the one thing it does not guarantee is a right to keep and bear arms. Moreover, property rights are not mentioned. Much of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms concerns itself with language rights, the rights of “aboriginal people”, and the education rights of linguistic minorities.

So while we often think of our neighbors to the North as just like us but more polite, legally they have a much different system in which things like property rights and the right to keep and bear arms are treated much differently. That said, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative government probably respect both of rights more so than the current Obama administration.

“United States Welcomes Opening of Arms Trade Treaty for Signature”

The headline is from a release put out by the State Department noting that the United States planned to sign the UN’s Arms Trade Treaty. Maybe the vaguely French looking Secretary of State who, by the way, served in Vietnam, welcomes it along with the rest of the Obama Administration but most assuredly I don’t welcome it and neither do at least 130 members of Congress.

Last week, 130 members of Congress signed a letter to Obama and Kerry urging them to reject the measure for this and other reasons.

“As your review of the treaty continues, we strongly encourage your administration to recognize its textual, inherent and procedural flaws, to uphold our country’s constitutional protections of civilian firearms ownership, and to defend the sovereignty of the United States, and thus to decide not to sign this treaty,” the lawmakers wrote.

The chance of adoption by the U.S. is slim, even if Obama goes ahead and signs it — as early as Monday, or possibly months down the road. A majority of Senate members have come out against the treaty. A two-thirds majority would be needed in the Senate to ratify.

 Kerry’s statement goes on to say it won’t infringe on the Second Amendment.

The ATT will not undermine the legitimate international trade in
conventional weapons, interfere with national sovereignty, or infringe
on the rights of American citizens, including our Second Amendment

I wonder if he considers the walking of guns to Mexico in Operation Fast and Furious to have been “legitimate international trade in conventional weapons” as it certainly did interfere with the national sovereignty of Mexico. Kerry’s remark that it won’t infringe upon the Second Amendment does not even dignify a response.

According to the Toronto Globe and Mail, Canada, by the way, has not yet decided whether or not it plans to sign the Arms Trade Treaty.

The federal government hasn’t decided whether it agrees with the UN’s arms trade treaty, despite having voted to move it ahead in the first place, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Monday.

“We believe that any treaty regarding the sale of munitions that helps move the international community closer to world-leading standards is a good thing,” Baird said during question period. “We participated actively in these discussions. I think we have an obligation to listen before we act, and that is why we will be consulting with Canadians before the government takes any decision.”

The Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister went on to say that the Canadian Government sees a potential link between the ATT and their former gun registry which they abolished last year.

I think the Canadians are being a heck of a lot smarter about this than the US which doesn’t surprise me in the least.

At Least The Canadians Get It

Most of the developed world seems to be living in la-la land when it comes to the UN’s Arms Trade Treaty. I would include the Obama Administration in that category despite any reassurances that they might give regarding the Second Amendment. Not so out in la-la land are the Canadians whose statement at the opening of the Arms Trade Treaty talks has some realism in it.

For example, the Canadians insist that it is important for the ATT to recognize the legitimacy of lawful trade in firearms as well as that it recognize “the lawful ownership of firearms by responsible citizens for personal and recreational uses.” They propose adding the following two paragraphs to the Preamble of the Arms Trade Treaty.

Recognizing that the purpose of the ATT is to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit and irresponsible transfer of conventional arms and their diversion into the illicit market, including for use in transnational organized crime and terrorism;

Noting that the ATT acknowledges and respects responsible and accountable trans-national use of firearms for recreational purposes, such as sport shooting, hunting and other similar forms of lawful activities, whose legitimacy is recognised by the State Parties.

I would also add in there the self-defense of individuals but it seems that the United Nations concept of lawful self-defense extends only to nations and not to individuals.

Given the recent experience with their own Firearms Registry and what a colossal and expensive failure it ended up being, it is no surprise that the Canadians say any additional reporting commitments be practical and realistic. They note for large importers and exporters maintaining detailed records of each and every transaction would overwhelm “virtually any administrative system now in existence.”

They go on to add that any reporting requirements must not contain so much details as to impair the national security of individual states nor compromise “the legally-protected information of private companies or the personal information of private individuals.”

I love their last point where they insist that if any new administrative unit is needed to implement and administer a new ATT then its funding should come out of the existing UN budget. Moreover, any new personnel would come from existing UN agencies and be located within existing UN institutions.

The points that the Canadians make notwithstanding, I still think the best treaty is no treaty and that the US should have told the UN to stick their ATT just like it did when John Bolton was the Ambassador to the UN.

Canadians Cave On Arms Trade Treaty

The CBC reported yesterday afternoon that Canada has “modified its controversial position on a United Nations arms control treaty.”

In a new position paper submitted to the UN, the federal government has dropped its proposal to exclude all sporting and hunting firearms from the international Arms Trade Treaty, an agreement that seeks to regulate the import, export and transfer of all conventional weapons.

Last summer Canada surprised many and attracted heaps of scorn from countries such as Nigeria, Brazil, Mexico and Australia, when it changed its stance on the treaty and advocated for the exclusion of so-called “civilian” firearms.

The Mexicans were particularly critical of Canada’s stance according to the CBC. The Mexicans allege that the narco-terrorists are taking “hunting and sporting” firearms and converting them into “assault weapons.” As one commenter on the story said, he had never seen full auto bolt or lever action rifles but he supposed a genius gunsmith might be able to pull it off. I don’t think even a genius of the order of John Moses Browning could do that.

While I cannot find the position paper in question on Canadian government websites, here is the position that they do put forward on the Arms Trade Treaty from the UN Mission’s website. They note elsewhere that they support “in principle” the negotiation of the Arms Trade Treaty.

The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons has had a devastating impact on people throughout the world. There are currently in excess of 600 million small arms and light weapons in circulation. Small arms and light weapons alone are instrumental in the deaths of more than 350,000 people a year. The proliferation and misuse of small arms pose a serious threat to human security.

Combating the illicit trade in small arms effectively requires a comprehensive approach which focuses primarily on the humanitarian impact of the proliferation and misuse of small arms in terms of conflict prevention and the protection of civilians, while recognizing the existing and legitimate interests of firearms owners, producers, brokers, and retailers.

Canada supports full implementation of the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects and remains active at the international, regional and sub-regional levels to tackle the problems stemming from the proliferation, excessive accumulation and misuse of small arms.

A group called Project Ploughshares is applauding the Canadian Government’s change saying they are pleased that it “toned down its call for exemptions on certain classes of firearms.”

One of the two Canadian gun rights organizations, the Canadian Shooting Sports Association, is said to be pleased with the language submitted by the Department of Foreign Affairs regarding the Arms Trade Treaty.

Tony Bernardo, executive director of the Canadian Shooting Sports Association, is also pleased with the changes.

“We would support this version of the Arms Trade Treaty document from Canada as it empowers independent nations to set their own discretionary policies regarding civilian-owned firearms within their borders.”

Bernardo said his take on the preamble is that Canada does not want “civilian” firearms included within the scope of the treaty.

In its position paper, Canada says it supports the inclusion of small arms, light weapons and ammunition within the ATT, “in keeping with the principle of national discretion.”

The CSSA, however, doesn’t have anything posted on their website. The other Canadian gun rights organization, the National Firearms Association, has not posted anything about this on their website nor was quoted by the CBC for their story.

As to why many governments around the world are pushing for the Arms Trade Treaty, I don’t think you need to look further than Chavez’s Venezuela where civilian ownership of firearms was just effectively banned.