Just a word about attitude.
Twenty years ago, Wendy Cukier, Heidi Rathjen, the “Coalition for Gun Control” set out to break the back of the firearms community of Canada.
They knew that in order to cement their agenda of civil disarmament, they would have to prevent “gun control” from becoming a political issue in Canada on the scale that it is in the United States.
They knew it was a numbers game. The more people who legitimately own and use firearms, the harder it is to legislate them away.
So, they pursued their agenda of civil disarmament with two friendly governments; the Progressive Conservatives, and when they were defeated, the Liberals.
They created all kinds of myths with their fellow travellers in media and academia. Firearms were an “American” thing. They were never part of Canadian culture, or the Canadian experience.
All Canadians supported civil disarmament. If you didn’t, you were out of step with Canadian society.
And it almost worked. Some in our community became resigned to what seemed to be the inevitable. But not all.
The Progressive Conservative Bill C-17 (1992) and perhaps more dramatically, the Liberal Bill C68 (1995) awoke an angry giant.
Call it a rude wake up call, call it a national outrage, it awoke the “casual” Canadian gun owner and even those who just regarded firearms ownership as a right of citizenship, to the fact that with mandatory firearms licensing and universal registration, the “final solution” to the “problem” of firearms ownership in Canada was being implemented.
It has taken twenty years, a national controversy and scandal, civil disobedience, a failed and broken government program and a political paradigm shift in Canada, but for the first time in modern Canadian political history, firearms law reform is being legislated in Canada.
No, Bills C-17 and C-68 have not been repealed or replaced in their entirety. Yet.
But we have been given a unique opportunity to secure the Canadian right and cultural tradition of firearms ownership where a scant few years ago – no hope existed.
A mainstream, middle of the road Canadian government has rolled back part of a national firearms law. It has apparently deleted data that the RCMP, the political police chiefs, media, academia and certain provincial governments insisted that they keep.
This was not supposed to happen. In 1995 – by 2012 the handguns were supposed to be gone, the semi autos were supposed to be gone, and mandatory licensing and universal registration were to have been fully implemented. Canada’s laws were to have been “harmonized” with those of the UK, Australia, and other countries who adopted the UN Small Arms Agenda. Some firearms ownership would be “tolerated” but severely controlled.
Yes, we have suffered confiscations, prohibitions, incursions and offenses against our rights and our property – but nowhere near the scale as in other commonwealth countries.
Canadians fought back. Election after election, the gun issue refused to go away, it refused to die. Even when the pundits insisted that it had, that it was the law and we might as well keep it, the rejection of and opposition to the civil disarmament agenda contained in the Firearms Act cost the Liberal and NDP parties seat after seat, and whole regions of Canada.
It cost a certain Mr. Mark Holland, the Liberal MP who was supposed to be the next Allan Rock, his seat in the last election – in a very high profile way.
It has cost them the privilege of governing.
What I am trying to say here is that firearms rights as a political issue or manifestation of a political debate in Canada, has arrived.
Here, today, in 2012 and in the future – gun rights are forever going to be part of the political culture and debate in Canada.
So for those of you who are discouraged by a perceived lack of progress on the issue, take it from someone who has been at this awhile.
No, we are not out of the woods yet. But we have made dramatic progress in securing the Canadian right and cultural tradition of firearms ownership that those who seek to disarm us could have never imagined and refuse to reconcile.
If we continue to fight, with a positive message and attitude, we will win.
Executive Vice President
Canada’s National Firearms Association