Although I support gun control, I understand the frustrations of gun owners. Like thousands of Canadians, I sold my rifle which I owned for 35 years rather than go through the hassle of registering it.
I would have registered the rifle if owning a firearm was important to me. I’m not offended that Canada’s new Firearms Act would let police and regulatory agencies know that I have a rifle. Law-abiding citizens have nothing to hide when it comes to something as crucial as firearms.
Those who oppose gun control say that it’s a bad law because it requires law-abiding citizens to register guns while criminals won’t bother. But it’s not just the criminals we have to worry about. Most murders are committed by an family member, friend, co-worker, or acquaintance who have no criminal record.
Until a gun owner does something criminal, you can’t tell the good guys from the bad. Peaceful, law-abiding citizens can do criminal acts. Take the example of James Watson who was shot and killed near Kamloops a few years ago, and his body stuffed in a shallow grave.
Watson and few friends got together to watch hockey on TV and drink beer. Their favourite team lost and emotions ran high. They drove into the countryside to shoot a moose (out of season). In a careless moment fuelled by emotion and booze, Watson was shot. His friend thought he was a wild animal as he stumbled through the woods. While its true that other weapons can kill, let’s rewind the above scene. But instead of holding a gun, Watson’s friend holds a knife. Watson stumbles out of the bush. He is faced by his startled friend. But in a time longer than it takes to pull a trigger, his friend realizes he is no animal and a tragic death is averted.
Of course, the above is not an example of what responsible hunters do. Real hunters don’t stumble through the bush in a drunken stupor. It is an example of what ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances do with a gun in their hands. Would Watson be alive if guns and ammunition were harder get? I think so.
The Firearms Act will also reduce the number killings of women who are murdered by their husbands. The Act requires that threats against women and domestic violence will automatically cause a review of a gun owner’s license. If the Firearms Act had been in place in the spring of 1996, Rajwar Gakhal would be still alive. Her estranged husband, Mark Chahal, had obtained a gun permit despite her complaints to police that Chahal had made threats against her. At a family gathering in Vernon, Chahal shot and killed her and eight family members before killing himself.
It’s not just the murder of women that’s the problem. For every women killed, thousands of others live in fear and intimidation. And the damage to children who grow up in a climate of abuse is life-long. They live in fear, or they learn that the way to intimidate others is to stick a gun in their face. No wonder that women strongly favour gun control– 89 per cent for women compared to 75 per cent for men.
It’s true that women will still be murdered if their husbands have no guns at all. They will be stabbed, bludgeoned, throttled, and beat to death. It’s been suggested that even a vehicle could be used. But in these times of the TV remote control, and the point-and-click computer mouse, guns are the weapon of convenience. Why make murder convenient?
Guns don’t kill people. People with a loose grip on reality and tight grip on their firearms do. With the squeeze of the trigger, they will correct every perceived wrong done to them, and blow away every demon that haunts them.
Since many gun-related deaths are not caused by criminals, but by seemingly ordinary Canadians, we have two choices. We could psychoanalyse every gun owner to try to determine who is potentially unstable, or we can make it more difficult for all Canadians to get guns. The first choice would result in an intrusion and expense worse than any gun owner’s nightmare. Gun registration is a nuisance and expensive, … and necessary.