Saturday, May 17, 2014

A Modest Proposal On Firearms

For years the argument has been made that regulations related to firearms are just a means for the government to subjugate the populace.

However, I have never heard any of these same people object to the reality that the same government insists that they register their car, carry insurance on the vehicle and pay taxes on the fuel that we use to run our vehicles.

Let's take a look at this for a few minutes, shall we?

In principle, a car is a mode of transportation.  It is purely civilian in its use.  In fact, using gun lobby logic, there is exactly no reason that we should have to register it to have it on the roads.  After all, cars don't commit crimes, people do, right?  Well, yes.

But, and there is a big but.  Accidents happen, people lose control of their vehicles and crash them.  Pedestrians crossing the roads get hit and injured all the time.  Being able to identify the owners of said vehicles goes a long ways to figuring out who did what in such circumstances.  Is this a bad thing?  Not at all.

Which leads me to the next point - insurance.  We are obliged to carry insurance on the vehicles we drive as a matter of course.  The reason for this is not that anyone is planning to kill others with the car (remarkably easy to do), or do damage to other people's property with said car (also remarkably easy to do), but because there is a likelihood that those accidents will happen and reparations will need to be made.  Most of us don't have a spare million dollars sitting in the bank to self-insure against the costs of long term injuries.

Licensing is a necessity.  We are required to demonstrate that we are competent to operate a motor vehicle safely.  That costs money too.

Gas taxes...we all hate them, but they are a fact of life.  We don't manage to escape them.  They are there, and in principle are used to in part to pay for the infrastructure we drive on.

So, let's turn briefly to the question of guns.  Guns are weapons.  They come out of a desire/need to kill things.  There is no other use for them beyond target practice.  You are either shooting to kill something or someone, or you are shooting at targets.  I can drive a car safely and not hurt anyone or anything else (save for a few bugs on the windshield), and similarly one can operate a gun in a safe manner.  There are inherent risks with both.

Registering a gun.  Why is this a bad thing?

The gun lobby would have you believe that the government will be at your door taking it away as soon as you register it.  To a certain degree, they have a concern here.  Governments have had a track record of arbitrarily changing the rules around what types of guns are legal or not.  Then again, they do the same thing with cars.  There are rules around what is a "street legal" car and what isn't.  Don't be fooled into thinking that you won't find yourself with a heap of trouble if your vehicle doesn't comply with the rules.

However, this doesn't change the reality that a legal obligation to register the fact you own firearms is really little different from having to register a vehicle.  Yes, there are rules.  You may disagree with the rules about what is legal or not, but those rules still exist.  I don't see where that's a bad thing.

Licensing.  Should you have to demonstrate basic competence with the maintenance, operation and storage of firearms?  I don't see why this is even remotely unreasonable.  Of all things, a mishandled firearm is far more likely to result in serious injury or even death than even a car.  As far as I am concerned, the notion of being able to own firearms without demonstrating basic competency with safety and operation of them is ridiculous.  The current "Firearms Acquisition Certificate" or whatever it's called in Canada these days is far too lax in this regard.

Insurance.  This one will no doubt get a whole lot of people riled up.  As far as I am concerned, if you own firearms it should be mandatory to carry personal liability insurance.  The simple fact is that just like a car, it is incredibly easy to injure another party with a firearm even in accidental circumstances.

As far as I am concerned, we need to treat firearms with the same kind of approach that we do cars.  Yes, there will be regulations on them.  That's a fact of life.  If you are going to own them, registration, licensing and insurance should all be mandatory.

Will this stop criminals from committing crimes?  No.  That isn't the objective.  The objective here is to ensure that those who do choose to own firearms do so responsibly in a manner that is generally safe.  Just as we cannot stop a criminal from stealing a car and driving it dangerously, we cannot stop a criminal from acquiring firearms illegally.  That is not, and never will be the objective.  Ensuring that those who choose to own guns legally do so with an eye to public safety and the liability that comes with owning a weapon of violence is another thing altogether.  If that happens to reduce the supply of firearms available to criminals on the way by, that would be an unexpected bonus.


Anonymous said...

If you can:

a) Remove Sections 91 and 92 of the criminal code
b) Guarantee that no legal firearms will be banned and confiscated in the future.

Then wi'll discuss registration.

MgS said...

(1) You have given me exactly no reason why S.91 and S.92 of the the criminal code should be repealed, nor have I made any such proposal. Illegal possession of a firearm is illegal possession.

(2) Firearms are part of an evolving industry. I can't guarantee that some future variety of firearm won't be banned for perfectly legitimate reasons. (e.g. It being discovered that a "legal weapon" can be trivially modified into being illegal) Nor would I expect that any politician would make such a guarantee.

(3) You have provided no reasons that I see why registration of firearms is a bad thing, nor any reasons why firearms owners should not be required to carry liability insurance.

You want to own firearms, cool. Take responsibility for them and the potential that they can be used to cause great harm to the public.