Friday, September 12, 2008
On September 8th, Stephane Dion and the Liberal Party of Canada announced a renewed attack on the rights of responsible firearm owners across Canada.
In his official press release made on the campus of Dawson College, Mr. Dion stated that:
"A new Liberal government will make our cities, our communities, and our schools safer by getting military assault weapons off our streets." Mr. Dion went on to argue that, "military assault weapons have no connection to hunting or sport shooting, and serve absolutely no purpose in our society. No one outside of the military needs these weapons and we would all be safer without them in Canada."
What Mr. Dion didn't bother to explain to Canadians was the fact that such firearms have been effectively banned since 1978 and that such firearms have not been available for purchase by non-grandfathered individuals in 30 years. Individual firearms, such as the much-maligned Beretta CX4 Storm, despite Liberal contentions, are low-powered sporting arms designed for target shooting and informal plinking. Under current Canadian firearms legislation magazine capacity for such rifles and carbines are restricted to five (5) rounds only. However, to use the uninformed terminology of the Liberal Party, Mr. Dion considers such a firearm an "assault weapon"!
Anyone completing the standard Canadian Firearms Safety Course could easily point out the errors perpetrated by the Liberals in their press release and backgrounder. Interestingly enough, to use the Liberal "definition" of what an "assault rifle" is, the venerable Lee-Enfield .303 British bolt action rifle carried by millions of Canadian soldiers during both World Wars and Korea would qualify under the Liberal scheme! According to the Liberals the hundreds of thousands of .303s - now in the hands of hunters from coast to coast, pose a danger to peace, order and good government due to their "evil" "high capacity magazines" and "bayonet lugs. I don't know about average Canadians, but I'm sure the tens of thousands of deer and moose harvested by hunters each year will breathe a collective sigh of relief once these "assault rifles" that have "no sporting purpose" are off the tundra and barrens of the Canadian north! I'm sure coyotes and other varmints will share the same opinion once the Liberals succeed in banning semi-automatic centre-fire .22 rifles like the Ruger Mini-14 as well! While not to make light of the subject, such absurdity demonstrates the lack of the Liberals' understanding of firearms issues in Canada today.
Such firearms, just as the dozens of other rifles, carbines and shotguns that would fall under the Liberal gun ban, pose no more danger to the public than any other sporting firearm in Canada. These firearms are used safely by millions of responsible firearms owners each year and it is highly offensive to choose to ban such firearms due to cosmetic military-looking outward appearances. Detachable magazines, pistol grips and muzzle brakes make firearms more ergonomic and easier to use in hunting or sporting settings. Just ask any deer hunter who must frequently enter and exit a hunting vehicle, or the turkey hunter who must spend long hours sitting on the ground, holding a pistol-gripped shotgun across his or her knees! If such firearms posed an actual threat to Canadians, we would see them employed on a regular basis in the commission of gun-related crimes across the country. Using the RCMP's own statistics, we can categorically prove that that simply is not the case. How then do the Liberals justify their "assault weapons ban?" Like so many Liberal leaders before him, Mr. Dion has chosen the "smoke & mirrors" approach. As with Bill C-68 and former Liberal leader Paul Martin's proposed 2006 handgun ban, Mr. Dion's new attack on responsible firearms owners has far more to do with political correctness and vote seeking than it does with enhancing public safety.
For all our members and other concerned sportsmen and gun owners who have contacted the National Firearms Association over the past several days, please be assured that we've been on top of this issue before it ever broke. The national executive has maintained direct and constant lines of communication with key decision-makers, including the Hon. Stockwell Day and the PMO's office on this situation. Public comments made by Prime Minister Harper and Minister Day rejecting the Liberal ban and firmly stating that a new Conservative Government has no plans to enact further gun control legislation is clear evidence that our message is getting through.
Since Dion made his grand "announcement" standing on the campus of Dawson College, the NFA has gotten firm renewed commitments from the Conservative Party of Canada that a Stephen Harper government has no intentions of introducing further gun control measures. Mr. Harper recognizes that Canada's millions of responsible firearms owners are not the problem and that he fully intends to honour the promises made to the recreational firearms community during the last election. It's up to us to give them a majority!
It is obvious that Mr. Dion attempted to make political hay on the blood of Dawson College's victims. The NFA deplores such crass political opportunism. However, we also recognize the desperation that was the driving force behind such a stunt. The Liberals were caught ill prepared for a snap fall election. They have put all their eggs in selling their "Green Shift" to the Canadian public. Unfortunately for Mr. Dion no one has been buying and they're desperate.
On top of this, the Liberals are running a distant, distant third in Quebec. The BQ's numbers are also falling and they're essentially in a dead heat, or actually trailing the Conservatives in key soft/swing vote ridings. The Conservatives have been successful in selling themselves as the only legitimate "federalist" party, leaving the Liberals out in the cold. As such, if things continue to develop as they are now, the Conservatives can be expected to make great gains in Quebec and possibly give them a majority government as a result.
In order to create a "wedge" issue to divide Quebecers and hurt Conservative chances in Quebec, the Liberals fell back on the once extremely divisive issue of gun control. However, 2008 isn't 1995 or even 2006, for that matter, -and the issue has had almost zero traction within the province of Quebec and even less nationally. Canadians are much savvier of the costs associated with Liberal gun control schemes and most recognize that C-68, gun bans and prohibitions simply don't work. As a result, just like their "Green Shift" this issue has gone nowhere for Dion.
In the interim, the NFA has been working the issue extremely vigorously behind the scenes and has remained in constant contact with key stakeholders in the industry and on the Harper Campaign. We don't want to hit this issue too aggressively/overtly in the national media at this time because we'd simply be helping out Dion and the Liberals by providing them with the free national publicity their party simply cannot afford to buy at present.
As such, we want to deny the Liberals that key soapbox from which they can preach about the "evils" of gun ownership. Be assured the NFA continues to monitor the situation as it develops in both English and French within the province of Quebec and on the national stage. Should this issue start to gain any traction within Quebec or nationally, the National Firearms Association is positioned to aggressively work the issue to ensure that it is a complete failure; just as former Liberal leader Paul Martin's promised "handgun ban" was during the 2006 federal election.
For now, the best way for gun owners to ensure that the Liberal's so-called "assault weapons ban" will never be enacted is to help get the Conservatives re-elected. Through deeds, words and official party policy, the Conservative Party of Canada has shown themselves to be the only major Canadian political party that are in the figurative "corner" of Canada's recreational firearms community.
It's up to us to do everything in our power to re-elect the Harper Government with a majority on October 14th. As gun owners we need to break out the cheque books now and donate to the CPC and let both the party, the Prime Minister, your local MPs and Conservative candidate running in your district know that you are a responsible firearm owner and that you appreciate their support on this issue. If at all possible, please get more involved in the campaign by becoming a volunteer worker, or by convincing family and friends to vote Conservative on election day. A vote for the Liberals, NDP, or Green Party is a vote for candidates who are anti-firearm.
This is one of those critical turning points in history we're always reading about. If we do our part, we protect our rights to continue to own and enjoy our firearms. If not, and the Liberals form the next government, we can effectively kiss those rights good-bye, just as our fellow shooters in Great Britain and Australia did a decade ago or so ago.
Sean G. Penney
National Firearms Association