I don’t talk about guns much unless it happens to coincide with the weapons that my two characters in Black Mask & Pale Rider carry around. But I do have an opinion on guns and gun control.
I know a lot of you may sit back and say “yeah, but you’re from Canada, and you Canadians are a bunch of pacifists”. While part of that may be true, Canadians are more likely to own a gun, whether it be a rifle or a hand gun, than Americans are. On average, per capita, Canadians own more guns than Americans. I honestly don’t have issues with guns as a tool to be used, and this most likely comes from the fact that I grew up on a farm where we had a .22 Winchester rifle. It’s an old gun, my grandfather bought it in Iroquois, Ontario, and subsequently smuggled it across the border not once, but twice to get it back to his farm north east of Ardath, Saskatchewan (he was courting my grandma at the time, that’s another story for another time). We used that gun to get rid of pests; coyotes with mange, skunks, tom cats that were wild and even getting rid of unwanted cats that were on our farm.
Just an aside, I love cats, but we had a lot, and sadly no one wanted to give them a home when we wanted to give them away, so we had no choice. A bullet was far more quick and less stressful to the animal than what some of our neighbours did, which included but was not limited to, placing the cats in a box and hooking it up to a car muffler or putting them in a sack with rocks and dropping it into a slough where they’d drown.
Back on track with guns.
Several years ago, over ten now, the Canadian government introduced the Long Gun Registry. I’m not familiar with the specifics, but I do recall the two sides of the issue regarding registry of long guns which included rifles of various caliber. People in major centers like Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec City, Hamilton, Toronto and Vancouver were in favour of it, and I believe there was a large amount of support from people in places like Winnipeg and Regina. Meanwhile, in rural areas, like Outlook, Saskatchewan (and most of Alberta because they like to be different for some reason) we didn’t see rifles as weapons, but as tools. The tools are explained above.
I personally don’t like guns, and while I say that I’d love to have a museum piece of a Colt .45 long barrel or a Smith and Wesson Army .32. Mostly because those are the guns that my aforementioned characters in Black Mask & Pale Rider use. I’d even love to own a flintlock or a muzzle loader. Mostly because they’d be classed as museum pieces, and the firing pins would be removed. In other words, they’d be useless as a weapon and more suited as an art piece or antique. Even though I’d like to own those guns, I still hate guns, and that comes from an incident when I was 13 and involved the very same .22 Winchester we owned. Let’s just say that something happened that I still live with to this day. No one was hurt, but because I looked down the barrel and later realized it was loaded I still get a visual of the barrel when I close my eyes. It’s very unnerving.
Sitting here in Canada, and watching the glass house that is the United States, we get to see all their news at a break neck speed, thanks in part to the Intertubes. When Newtown happened, we knew about it immediately. Every time a politician talks about guns and gun control, we hear about it. And a lot of the time, the Constitution, and in particular the Second Amendment are brought up. That there are those who have every right to own an assault rifle because the Founding Fathers said it was okay. Let’s take a closer look at that. When the Founding Fathers wrote and signed the Constitution, which included the Second Amendment (which was adopted in 1791), the most powerful fire arm of the time was probably a muzzle loader. Higher than that and you’re looking at a cannon. There were no assault rifles, no semi-automatic handguns, no uzis. Nothing that could be fired without loading it again. Muzzle loaders and flintlocks. The type of weapon that a heavy jacket could stop the bullet of. That was the deadliest hand held weapon of it’s time. And expensive, so not everyone could afford one.
I’ll bypass my usual argument that at the time the Second Amendment was written, the Founding Fathers were most likely talking about an armed militia that could be called upon to defend the borders of the state or nation. That can be assumed by this wording:
As passed by the Congress:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
As ratified by the States and authenticated by Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State:
A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
However, in 2008 and 2010, the Supreme Court deemed the interpretation meant for the individual right to carry a firearm. There are States that allow for conceal and carry, but to be honest, knowing that I walk into store or coffee shop or restaurant and know that there are people in there with guns, it doesn’t make me feel protected. It makes me feel very nervous and fearful. Because what happens if one of those citizens with a weapon decides to draw it in the event of a so called emergency. Police officers I can deal with, because they’re supposed to be fully trained to handle a gun, assess a situation and keep the public safety in mind. A private citizen I don’t give as much credit.
But again, it may be because I’m Canadian and I’m considered a pacifist. But facts don’t lie. I also live in a country where the number of deaths related to hand guns or long guns is thousands less than our neighbours to the south.