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Should Canadians be able to own assault rifles?

Just a rhetorical question I throw out there to the libertarians in my midst who have printed a lot of indignation on here when some of us would suggest banning the ownership of a handgun in Canada and restricting it to the police and the military.

Under their suggestions, we shouldn’t be mandating what Canadians should own or not, and that it’s not the handgun’s fault people die from it – it’s just due to the person who uses it. So.. under that theory, Canadians should be allowed to own assault rifles, right? Or is that somehow different?

39 comments to Should Canadians be able to own assault rifles?

  • FYI to readers: I posted my recent comment as adedicated post at my own little boog. Ron an' some others been yammerin' there so I ain't gonna repeat it all here.

  • JimBobby, with respect, if it was only gun control that stopped you from being a murderer then the problem didn't rest with the gun control laws, it rested with you, your ethics at that time, and your anger management skills.

    I'm not sure how your immaturity (for lack of a better word) at that time morphs into a reason to restrict the innocent.

  • Okay, Ron, let me tell you a true story of how gun control prevented a crime. About 10 years ago, my then 25 year old son was viciously attacked by two men in Port Dover, Ontario. The attack was unprovoked. They "accused" my son of bein' gay and they beat him for that (mistaken) assumption. He was beaten unconscious and kicked in the face after he was out cold. We knew who did it and the assault was reported to police. They investigated and during the investigation, the attackers threatened witnesses with death should they choose to testify. Eventually, reduced charges were laid and one of the attackers walked away free while the other got probation and a $1000 fine.

    Now, let's go back about 20 years. Back then, I considered purchasing a rifle for target practice and perhaps for varmint shootin'. I looked into gettin' my Firearms Acquisition Certificate (FAC). I decided that I didn't wanna be bothered with takin' a course and I didn't really care that much about ownin' a gun. I brushed it off as a whim and didn't think about it much… until after my son was attacked.

    For about a month, while the bad guys were threatening everyone, I slept with a tire iron beside the bed. But my thoughts were far from defensive. I secretly plotted to stalk and kill the guys who disfigured my boy. I kicked myself for failing to follow through and get my FAC. I longed for a high-powered sniper rifle so I could eliminate the scum from the community. BTW, this is the very first time I've admitted to my murderous intentions, even ma don't know what I was plottin'.

    Today, I'm still angry at the attackers. They got off easy. That said, I'm also relieved that I hadn't followed through with my original quest for gun ownership. I have almost no doubt that I would have lain in wait and shot those guys. I considered looking for an illegal weapon but I figgered I'd probably get caught if I went out right after my son got beat up and started lookin' fer a huntin' rifle. If I'd already had one, I'd have used it. 

    Today, I'm glad that I don't have murder on my conscience and the only reason I don't is that I didn't own a gun when murderous thoughts consumed me.

    That's one example of crime prevention through gun control. I really don't think I'm the only Canajun who's ever contemplated murder (or suicide) and who's abandoned those thoughts after coolin' off.

    JB

  • *yawn*

    (scroll)

    KEvron

  • "Well, if it'll never come to pass, what's your point? You want to base a restriction on a hypothetical never?"

    how is the current state of restriction on personal possesion of nukes a hypothetical?

    The current state of restriction isn't hypothetical, but ownership by an aberrant individual is.
    "You're using an imaginary, highly unlikely extreme (you actually said never) as a precedent"

    no, i'm using the current state of restriction as a precedent.

    Well, okay if you want to switch, but you weren't. The scenario/hypothetical/precedent being discussed was "buying a nuke", not the state of restriction, as in:"buy a nuke if you can get one. Fine with me."

    when presented from the comfortable position of knowing full and well that this scenario will never come to pass

    (no mention of restrictions there)

    Onward…
    "the only folks who are actually pursuing the possession of nukes are…. folks who already don't care about whatever law you're planning to write anyways."

    the only people planning to rob a bank also disregard the law, but i'm not certain what relevance either of these observations bears. [yep, I think you used bears correctly]

    I'm saying that a law against using a nuke coercively will suffice given that the presence of a law against mere possession will very likely not stop this type of offender, especially since using it coercively is already decidedly illegal and that wouldn't stop 'em. In other words, it's sufficient to have a law banning coercive use.

    At least that wouldn't restrict innocents, and it wouldn't be used as a specious precedent to further restrict the activities of innocents regarding the ownership of other weapons. Remember that slippery slope you sensed; I sense one here.

  • Example: Either (of these observations) bears…

    If the prepositional phrase is removed, it's clearer, but it would it would have been better writing to say "either observation bears…"

  • KEvron: Well, its a tricky one.

    The pronouns neither and either are singular and require singular verbs even though they seem to be referring, in a sense, to two things. Neither of the two traffic lights is working. Either is fine with me.In informal writing, neither and either sometimes take a plural verb when these pronouns are followed by a prepositional phrase beginning with of. This is particularly true of interrogative constructions: "Have either of you two clowns read the assignment?" "Are either of you taking this seriously?" Burchfield calls this "a clash between notional and actual agreement."

    So, from The American Heritage Book of English Usage:

    "either with singular or plural verb.  When used as a pronoun, either is normally singular and takes a singular verb: The two surgeons disagree with each other more than either does (not do) with the pathologist.

    But when either is followed by of and a plural noun, it is often used with a plural verb [as you recommend]: Either of the parties have enough support to form a government. As frequent as this usage may be, it is widely regarded as incorrect. Ninety-two percent of the Usage Panel rejected it in an earlier survey. (emphasis mine).

    Therefore: Either (of these observations) bears, as in "he bears", or "it bears". Now, though, bears is tricky because it's an irregular verb and it's correct to say "I bear"…but I think "either" when referring to observations is third person singular.

    As far as "planning to write", I thought about that myself. You have stated no such intent.

  • er, "….observations bear."

    KEvron

  • "Well, if it'll never come to pass, what's your point? You want to base a restriction on a hypothetical never?"

    how is the current state of restriction on personal possesion of nukes a hypothetical?

    "You're using an imaginary, highly unlikely extreme (you actually said never) as a precedent"

    no, i'm using the current state of restriction as a precedent.

    "and you're telling me I'm being disingenuous."

    and i stand by that observation.

    "Groovy."

    cool.

    "the only folks who are actually pursuing the possession of nukes are…. folks who already don't care about whatever law you're planning to write anyways."

    the only people planning to rob a bank also disregard the law, but i'm not certain what relevance either of these observations bears.

    and what law is it that you think i am planning to write?

    KEvron

  • A lot of people don't care about laws until they get caught breaking them.

    Understood and that's true–but since it is true that the law won't prevent the crime (just as you describe) then don't waste time with it. Simply punish the daylights out of folks who actually act in an anti-social manner. Preemptive laws about guns not only fail to deter criminals (as you describe) they also damage the innocent as we've (and especially Mike)  described elsewhere on this blog.

  • JB, with respect:

    How about this: the only folks who are actually pursuing the possession of automatic weapons are either governments or folks who already don't care about whatever law you're planning to write anyways.

    Actually, though, that's not true. There are folks working to repeal/change the laws about auto weapons before purchase in regimes where such weapons are already illegal, and there are others who have simply decided not to purchase due to an existing law or uncertainty about possible new laws. Same with folks and handguns.

    Neither can be said or assumed about the folks who want nukes, and you know it.

  • <i>You're using an imaginary, highly unlikely extreme…</i>

    In bygone days, we might have considered private ownership of military-type weaponry to be an imaginary and unlikely extreme. The graphic depiction of violence on a magic picture box in every home would also have seemed imaginary. 

    <i>(T)he only folks who are actually pursuing the possession of nukes are either governments or folks who already don't care about whatever law you're planning to write anyways.</i>

    How about this: the only folks who are actually pursuing the possession of automatic weapons are either governments or folks who already don't care about whatever law you're planning to write anyways.

    A lot of people don't care about laws until they get caught breaking them.

    JB

  • when presented from the comfortable position of knowing full and well that this scenario will never come to pass, this cavalier stance seems rather disingenuous.

    Well, if it'll never come to pass, what's your point? You want to base a restriction on a hypothetical never?

    the nukes argument is presented as a precedent to underscore a society's need for limitations.

    You're using an imaginary, highly unlikely extreme (you actually said never) as a precedent, and you're telling me I'm being disingenuous.

    Groovy.

    KEvron, the only folks who are actually pursuing the possession of nukes are either governments or folks who already don't care about whatever law you're planning to write anyways.

  • "buy a nuke if you can get one. Fine with me."

    when presented from the comfortable position of knowing full and well that this scenario will never come to pass, this cavalier stance seems rather disingenuous.

    the nukes argument is presented as a precedent to underscore a society's need for limitations.

    KEvron

  • I find the libertarians and anarchists position that all will be well if we have no regulations to be out to lunch

    I'm not aware of a libertarian or anarchist who has said  that "all will be well". Both libertarians and anarchists suggest methods of dealing with coercive or otherwise reckless  individuals; it's just that the libertarian/anarchist positions don't posit pre-emptive damage or restrictions to innocents and victims as a solution.

  • That "Scoot" was a typo, not an insult. My apologies,Scott, because no offense was intended. My typing can be pretty lysdexic.

  • Scoot, if you trust Bush and Harper et al to keep things like that, more power to you. Like I said, the results might be different than all the other times. .

  • The "we need to allow citizens the right to have guns to prevent a dictatorship" is a red herring Ron., A tired one that keeps getting repeated by our gun-nutjobs south of the border.

    Th fact of the matter is that all Western democracies have some form of gun control.. and haven't descended into oppressing their citizens…

  • Yeah, that's worked in the past when the only folks who had weapons was the police and the military (and maybe a few government-picked civilains)….let's try it again.

    Who knows, the results might be different than all the other times.

  • Maybe people are tired of covering the same ground over and over again. I find the libertarians and anarchists position that all will be well if we have no regulations to be out to lunch. Nothing said here has changed my position.  We have all types of regulations and rules that are of benefit to the society, and I can certainly say if there was a laissez-faire attitude in certain sectors of rule of law or things such as environmental regulation and so on, you're dreaming if you think corporations or certain segments of the population would behave properly.

    Guns are used for one thing – to kill people. The sooner we restrict them to the police and military, the better off this society will be.

  • Busy thread, then 24 hours of dead silence. Maybe you nailed it, Mike, when you asked:
    Is there no other way that you guys can think of to deal with problems like this besides banning everything?

  • "I would submit it has not failed. I would submit the banning of them has kept a lot more of them out of the hands of bad guys or psychos then would be the case if they were readily available."

    Then I would suggest you produce some facts to show such, because as I have pointed out, there are countries in the world with assault rifles in every home, but have not degenerated in to the chaos of violence you envision.  The fact remains that for those who choose not to obey the law, so-called prohibited weapons are still relatively easy to obtain and can still be found and obtained in Canada. By definition that means the ban has not worked, as I described about.

    But if you have figures that contradict this position, feel free to produce them.

    "Tell me Mike, where does your "we should have a right to own anything we want" view end exactly? Are you saying the state or society as a whole shouldn't be banning anything?"

    Well this "state" and "society" are not things that can do what you suggest. There are only collections of individuals. But as not to get caught in semantics, we should have the right to own anything we can make or afford to pay for and own.

    My position is that if you wish to prevent someone from owning something, banning its possession and import, that is an extraordinary measure and an infringement on personal liberty. If you wish to do something that extraordinary, you need to provide some extraordinary evidence that it is needed. Not 'maybes' or 'I feels', but strong, extraordinary evidence.

    Don't make any assumptions, except to assume that nothing should be considered 'obvious'. Explain what this ban is supposed to do, how it will make us safer or better and how it would work in practice. Explain all your reasons and do not resort to "its obvious assault rifles aren't needed" or are "inherently dangerous" – prove it, show your work. Explain why, if only to make you expose all your premises.

    Also I see Olaf and the Rev are now arguing Reductio ad absurdum. Well lets look at the reality of the situation: currently it is not the law that prevents any of those people from owning or possessing nukes, or jet fighters, its the expense and the utility. Really, the only thing preventing the Aspers and the Bronfmans or Lord Tubby from owning a nuke or a CF-18 is that they are multi-million dollar weapons that have no use  for anything they could have. A nuke and a jet are of little use against an AK-47 and a whiskey bottle full of gasoline, as our adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan (not to mention Viet Nam) have shown. A nuke would destroy anything worth protecting anyway. Not to say others would not want these for other nefarious reasons, but they will not be deterred by the existence of bans or laws anyway.

    The real issue here, it seems is that people seem to be conflating the ability to own  something with actually owning it and actually using it.  Just because I can own an assault rifle does not mean I will own one or if I do own one, that I will use it in anyway that is harmful to anyone else. It is illogical to assume that if we allow anyone to simply have the right to own an M-16 or MP5 that we will suddenly have Mad Max chaos in the streets.

    I am proposing that rather than wasting time and resources on something that can be demonstrably ineffective in preventing crime (indeed may actually generate more violent crime), that is a divisive infringement on the rights of law abiding people to own property, why not concentrate on the root causes in society that leads people to wish to carry a gun – any gun – for purposes other than what everyone would consider legitimate (hunting, target shooting, collecting, etc). People will not own these weapons if they are not incented to in some way. They will not use them if not incented to in someway. I say deal with the incentives rather than merely taking away the property. I am not incented to own an C-7 living in a comfortable suburb of Ottawa, so even if legal, I would not purchase one. But if I lived somewhere more remote or more dangerous due to the drug trade, for instance, I may have incentive to have a gun of some kind, either to protect me or to protect my home and family. Taking away my right to do that will in no way stop the bad guys, because they already are ignoring the law, it will merely leave me as their unarmed victim. But if their reason to resort to violence is taken away (drug trade is decriminalized, for instance), my incentive to own a gun is taken away. And why would I spend $500 to $1000 for a gun I don't need?  In other words, deal with the root causes of the crime, not the side effect of carrying and occasionally using a gun for the wrong purpose.

    Is there no other way that you guys can think of to deal with problems like this besides banning everything?

  • Tony Randall

    Of the 658 homicides committed in 2005: 222 were committed with a firearm; 198 homicides were stabbings; and 238 were from a variety of other violent causes
    “Since 1997, police reported that 83% of recovered firearms used to commit homicide were not registered. Where ownership could be determined, the accused owned the firearm in 60% of these homicides. [Therefore,] among homicides committed with a firearm, four out of five accused persons did not possess a valid firearms certificate.”
    http://www.statcan.ca/Daily/English/061108/d061108b.htm

    Suck on that factoid.

  • Aaron:

    me, from the other gun thread:
    My ethical view is that even if most people who possessed weapons used them in a manner contrary to the public good, that is still no reason to limit the possession of weapons by peaceful, non-coercive citizens.

    Thinking further, I'd say that actually the good reason not to prevent peaceful citizens from owning weapons would increase if more people used them badly.

  • James

    Hey, Well its the only gun that you can actually cut your kill up with while shooting it. Maybe we can push on westerners as a more environmentally friendly way to cut down trees without using a chainsaw while clearing land for coal mines and oil fields. Hey they could even take out more cops with that as well.

  • Well, be careful if ya get one and play safely, Olaf. Y'could poke yer eye out.

  • Maybe I will Ron, maybe… I … will.

  • I addressed the nuke issue in the other thread. Go ahead, Olaf, buy a nuke if you can get one. Fine with me.

  • Paperboy: is there some reason we shouldn't trust you with a hand grenade, or do you just not trust people around you?

  • Handguns, assault rifles…principles are principles and upping the alleged lethality of the weapon doesn't change a thing. Really, Scott, you're just bringing the identical question to a new thread (not that that's a bad thing).

    Are you saying the state or society as a whole shouldn't be banning anything.

    If you're going to have a State (a much broader argument), then it's proper that acts of instigation of coercion be punished (as opposed to defensive actions). Possessing anything is not an act of coercion.

  • wilson61

    And who needs a vehicle that can go over 120 kph?  Speed kills!
    Only police cruisers should have that capability….

  • Just to play devils advocate: what about nuclear weapons, Mike?  I mean, should law abiding nuclear weapons holders be punished and deprived of their freedom to own a nuclear weapon just because some other nuclear weapons owners might use those weapons for ill?  I hear target practice with a nuclear weapon is an emerging sport phenomenon in the Central Asian republics.

    Then again, that could just be a characteristically stupid question on my part without any hypothetical or theoretical value whatsoever.  I'll be back after a few cups of coffee to confirm my suspicion…

  • Serious people put serious thought into these sorts of bans because they understand that they constitute grievous (if not unjustifiable) violations of peoples' freedoms. And if that violation of freedom can't be justified, the ban shouldn't be introduced. It really doesn't matter if you can't understand why anyone would want to own a handgun (I don't either) or if they were "made to kill" or whatever. If we can't demonstrate that banning handguns would have a significant impact on violent crime in this country, it's not a road we should go down.

  • By the same arguement, why can't I own hand grenades? Maybe my eyesight isn't good enough to be the sort of crack shot you need to be to use a handgun or assault rifle for self -defense and I live alone, so there wouldn't be any innocent bystanders to worry about if I came home to find someone stealing my stereo and chucked a pineapple into the living room to get rid of him. In fact the same logic would apply to owning a rocket launcher or even a tank or fighter jet. Sure the latter are expensive, but why shouldn't the Bronffmanns or Stronachs or Blacks have their own armored perimeter security or tactical airstrike capability? After all they are responsible businesspeople and pillars of the community not criminals or anything, right? Just imagine the hijinks that could ensue when Conrad comes home and finds Babs in bed with one of the Asplers, it would just like Afghanistan! Gee thank libertarians!

  • L. emersonia

    I mostly agree with what Mike said about legal gun owners being kept in check through insurance companies and liability issues if things go horribly wrong. On the other hand, these sorts of arms are one-purpose: killing humans. Why someone would want one seems clear. Why someone wants to be free to take an assault rifle to school or work, or on an airplane or a street is not so clear. If the government is going to make handguns and assault rifles legal and rely on owners to police themselves regarding their use, then why would the government turn around and ban things like plants (marijuana, jimson, salvia, hemp), ban or regulate chemicals, or attempt to ban gay marriage? Are the people to be held responsible for certain materials and actions and not for other materials and actions? I think the government and the people of Canada need to take a hard look at themselves and decide what sort of a society they want to live in. Let's not make freedom mean nothing left to lose.

  • Dave

    I can't speak for every Canadian but I think guns are stupid and assault rifles are useless outside of war. 

    For those that think guns are a right and/or just want them, sorry about you're small penis doods.

  • I would submit it has not failed. I would submit the banning of them has kept a lot more of them out of the hands of bad guys or psychos then would be the case if they were readily available.

    Tell me Mike, where does your "we should have a right to own anything we want" view end exactly? Are you saying the state or society as a whole shouldn't be banning anything?

    I'm sorry.. but if socialists are accused of some  as dreaming idealists for their utopian society, I'm thinking you libertarians and anarchists and the like are worse.

  • Yes.

    Now, I wouldn't want one and clearly you wouldn't Scott, but that doesn't mean someone else wouldn't. Why have one? I don't know, same reason for any kind of gun – target shooting, just to show off and yes, someone somewhere may feel for some reason they need one for protection (I don't buy that one myself, but who knows).

    Now, of course, my previous arguments still apply and in fact, assault rifles show it better. Assault weapons and rifles have been banned in Canada since 1977. Yet the are still available. They are expensive and the really bad guys can still get them. And, as I stated in the other thread, they guys getting them are drug dealers and other assorted folks who won't obey the law anyway (remember Lasagne and the other buddies at Oka and Kansetake – they had assault rifles).

    Assault rifles, even if made suddenly legal, are not likely to be numerous and used willy-nilly, as I'm sure you are afraid of. They cannot be used for hunting, they are difficult to conceal and will still not be cheap. They would certainly be a niche market.

    And lets not forget that having a legal assault rifle (or handgun) will unleash an evil so powerful that even the police will tremble before it, and its a power that will keep assault rifle owners in check – insurance companies. Owning a handgun or assault rifle, legally, will mean having it insured (its a pretty expensive piece of property after all). In order to get good rates and to satisfy insurance companies that they will not have to payout, people will need to prove training, need, safe storage and security. Hell, they will probably insist on a registry that they share in order to track lawful ownership.

    If banning assault rifles was supposed to keep assault rifles out of the hands of the bad guys, it has failed, because they can get them if they want. Indeed, smuggling them is a good business for them. All banning assault rifles has done is keep them out of the hands of people who would not abuse them.

    And lets not forget that every home in Switzerland has an assault rifle in it (as part of their military service). Is Switzerland a bastion of gun crime  and mayhem from assault rifle wielding mobs?

  • mushroom

    Does it have to be concealed?  Or does the assault weapon have to be revealed on a holster?

    Can the right to carry an assault weapon be allowed under Section 7 of the Charter of Rights, the right of security?

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