I watched the HBO documentary Gun Fight last night, and while the American movement is far more radical, the rhetoric and passion was the same as that of the Canadian gun movement.
And yes we do have a movement here. It's not as visible and is being softened as a debate over our long gun registry.
But if you visit right-wing sites where this is discussed, you get a different view. What they are striving for is a "gun culture" in Canada. They believe that guns should not be limited to police officers and that if citizens carried guns there would be less crime.
Not an Old West pistols at dawn, but citizen vigilantes and armed patrols, not ruling out the option of "packing" to be prepared for anything.
A New Direction
NOW Magazine has an excellent story this month: Harper’s dangerous gang
In it they discuss the new direction this government has taken over the issue of gun control. (You can read a brief history of Canada's gun control here)
Once upon a time, the Firearms Advisory Committee included experts from all sides of the gun debate. Former member Marilou McPhedran, principal of Global College at the University of Winnipeg and a lawyer specializing in women’s, children’s and disabled rights, says it was “evident that some members had ties to the U.S. National Rifle Association,” but meetings were substantive.Hardly a fair and balanced crew.
... Now the committee has [gun enthusiast Gary] Mauser, Greg Farrant of the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, Canadian Shooting Sports Association (CSSA) prez Tony Bernardo, three firearms experts and/or dealers, a doctor from Nova Scotia whose pro-gun letter rants can be found in various newspapers, a champion shooter, a cop who appeared in NRA ads, a couple of past presidents of the Sporting Club of Niagara (a gun club) and an ex-RCMP assistant commissioner who denounces the gun registry.
And there are many others working behind the scenes to promote this gun culture. And they are doing it with the full backing of the American NRA.
Counting over 2.8 million members, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has been called “perhaps America’s most powerful political lobby,” and “serves as spiritual godfather to gun groups around the world.” The Chief Executive Officer of the NRA, Wayne La Pierre, is a member of the Council for National Policy [Where Harper delivered his anti-Canadian speech]. Under his direction, the NRA has been extremely active in pursuing its anti-gun control agenda abroad, especially in Canada. According to Tony Bernardo, Executive Director of the Canadian Institute for Legislative Action (CILA), a gun lobby group, the NRA was “instrumental to the formation of the CILA” and provides “tremendous amounts of logistic support.” On July 4, 2001, La Pierre stated “the National Rifle Association of America supports and endorses the work done by the Canadian Institute for Legislative Action,” which works with the National Firearms Association to advocate for the “rights” of gun owners.(3)This is a question of sovereignty. The American right wants to dictate our morality and write our gun laws.
Stephen Harper's own Pro-Gun Stance
Though Stephen Harper tries to project the image of a moderate, it was he who rewrote the Reform Party's pro-gun policy.
In his book Waiting for the Wave, former Harper insider Tom Flanagan, mentions that not everyone was happy with the position the party was taking, (cost of licensing to be born by gun owners and "higher priority on the right of Canadians to public safety than on the right to own and use firearms" (Reform Party Caucus Issue Statement, February 22, 1992,)) so Stephen Harper himself "intervened to table" several amendments.
... the right or law-aiding citizens to own and use firearms will be protected.Says Flanagan, "This, together with the first resolution, came close to endorsing a right to bear arms ..." (1)
... the Reform Party support the right of citizens to protect themselves and their property, against criminal acts using all reasonable means, and that their right to do so has priority over the offender's rights.
And during the 2005/2006 election campaign, the NRA threw their support behind Harper:
Buoyed by recent successes in the US Congress and Brazil, America's powerful gun lobby - the National Rifle Association - is turning its sights to Canada. At a session in Toronto, organized by the Canadian Shooting Sports Federation, the NRA will conduct training sessions for the Canadian Gun lobby. The website notes: "We have a Federal election looming on the horizon and we must be prepared.... How do we protect our rights? By being more politically active and effective at the grass roots. And who better to show us how than the most powerful lobby group in the world, the National Rifle Association."(2)The Use of fear
They are also resorting to the same fear tactics used by the NRA, that the police and the government are coming for your guns.
In fact U.S. organizations have had their "sights" on Canada for some time:
Many Canadians think themselves immune from the anti-politics of right-wing extremists. But consider how the National Firearms Association (FA) moved into the spotlight during the 1997 controversy over the Liberals gun control legislation. The NFA's director, John Bauer, alleged that federal gun control was some kind of world disarmament conspiracy, led by the pacifist Canadian government and their girlymen army of peacekeepers. "A [Liberal] majority means the end of a culturally distinct Recreational Firearms Community [RFC] in Canada and maybe even [in] the world as we are being used to pave the way for Total Global Disarmament by 2003" said Bauer. "The RFC has been pushed ever closer to extinction every year. Why? Why? Why? What have we done to deserve this oppression?" (3)And more recently one of the men on the Conservative gun advisory committee, M.J. Ackermann, wrote:
As I predicted a few years ago, the escalation of police response from a polite knock on the door and discussion to SS type raid is the direct result of gun licensing and registration coupled with the pogrom of cultural genocide that has been going on for the last decade and more. Sooner or later they are gonna start shooting us first and asking questions later. (4)In the HBO documentary I found it interesting that one of the signs being carried had the words 'Fed Up', the same name given to a pro-gun rally organized by Conservative MP Garry Breitkreuz, who used his Parliamentary office to attack the RCMP.
Here Are the Facts
Homicide rates across Canada are stagnant and the number of them committed using firearms has dropped considerably, according to new figures that are raising questions about the Conservative government's tough-on-crime agenda.The Harper government has given a five year amnesty to gun owners, telling them to ignore the law and forget about registering their firearms. Five years of information lost. And in their platform, according to Cheryl Gallant, they are going to wave license fees for handguns, costing taxpayers $26 million.
The latest homicide study released Tuesday by Statistics Canada shows there were 179 firearm-related killings in 2009, 21 fewer than the previous year. Most of them involved handguns which are tightly controlled in Canada. (5)
He has sent out taxpayer funded ten per centers suggesting that his party is the only party that has their interests at heart, ensuring that gun enthusiasts not only vote, but vote for him. This despite the fact that 2/3 of Canadians support gun control.
He doesn't respect Canadian culture, so instead is determined to change it, taking his marching orders on the gun issue from the NRA.
Asked in a 1997 CBC interview, "Is there a Canadian culture?" Harper replied: "Yes, in a very loose sense. It consists of regional cultures within Canada, regional cultures that cross borders with the US. We're part of a worldwide Anglo-American culture. And there is a continental culture." He just doesn't get us and is not "Here for Canada".
On May 2 vote and vote wisely. Because this is not OUR Canada.
1. Waiting for the Wave: The Reform Party and Preston Manning, By Tom Flanagan, Stoddart Publishing, 1995, ISBN: 0-7737-2862-7, Pg. 196-7
2. NRA Assisting Canadian Gun Lobby with Election, Montreal, CNW, December 2, 2005
3. Slumming it at the Rodeo: The Cultural Roots of Canada's Right-Wing Revolution, Gordon Laird, 1998, Douglas & McIntyre, ISBN: 1-55054 627-9, Pg. 159-160
4. Firearms owner accused of assault, By M.J. Ackermann, Cdn-Firearms Digest Volume 14 : Number 381, April 13 2011
5. Gun Murders Down in Canada: As Usual, Most Victims Knew Their Killer, The Canadian Press, October 26, 2010