Should firearms owners be licensed?

Vehicle collisions with moose are deadlyAbout 16 people died each year in vehicle collisions with moose according to TIFF (2000-14)

Should firearms owners be licensed?

Why believe the media when they call the Nova Scotia killer a “gunman?” Yes, guns were involved, but so was arson. Many victims were burned to death. This was mass murder. The killer is a murderer. Focusing on guns is a red herring.

The recent murders in Nova Scotia demonstrate why Canadian gun control fails to keep people safe. HereHere. And here. Perhaps that’s why RCMP spokesmen have been coy about whether the killer had a firearms licence. If he did not have a PAL, then the system failed its primary goal of controlling firearms ownership. Guns are available to any criminal who wants one. If the killer did have a PAL, the system failed to screen out dangerously violent people. Calls for more gun laws are just red herrings to divert attention from the abject failure of the RCMP.

In the more than 20 years since Canadian firearms owners were first required to be licenced, licensing has unfortunately begun to be accepted as normal. This is shocking because the idea that a police bureaucracy would be required to monitor law-abiding people who own firearms was widely opposed before it became mandatory.

The usual justifications of licensing firearms owners are unconvincing. Moreover, the system is ripe for abuse even if one is willing to accept the concept of licencing. This potential has been known since its inception. In 2002 the Auditor General of Canada pointed out that the licensing system was overly bureaucratic (see page 14). Not only does licensing stigmatise law-abiding citizens, but by exposing them to onerous police scrutiny, licensing makes firearms owners excessively vulnerable to false accusations.


Public safety

Government officials say that licensing firearms owners reduces violent crime. We are told that because firearms pose a threat to a peaceable society, owners and potential owners of firearms should be carefully screened so that criminals, terrorists, or violently insane people do not have access to dangerous weapons. In addition to an initial screening, licensing imposes continuous monitoring of owners so that threats may be more quickly discovered. Licensing also helps the police enforce restrictions on firearms handing, such as transporting firearms to the range or to a gunsmith and “safe storage” rules.

However, research undermines the claim that licencing improves public safety. Technically strong research studies in both Canada and the United States routinely fail to find empirical support for a variety of strict gun controls reducing criminal violence. Langmann showed that none of Canada’s gun laws worked to reduce homicide or suicide and Mauser demonstrated that moose kill more people than PAL holders.

 

Targeting Minorities

Licensing remains a stain on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. For the authorities to single out a minority for special scrutiny has long been viewed as violating the principles of fundamental justice, and as such, unacceptable in most English speaking countries. It has long been deemed repugnant to target religious and ethnic minorities. If the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is to mean anything, it is important to respect the natural rights of Canadians who belong to social groups that are not favoured by urban elites.

Of course, the typical justification for targeting a minority is that they pose a threat to public safety. Canadian authorities still consider it objectionable to systematically monitor criminals, even violent criminals, after their release from prison.

Public relations

Public relations is a second reason given by authorities. Firearms licensing is useful to reassure the public. It helps politicians feel good about themselves because they are “seen to be doing something,” even if it’s ineffective in actually reducing criminal violence.

Licensing as a public relations exercise has an ugly underbelly. Public reassurance is won by stigmatizing hunters and sport shooters as a threat to public safety. Falsely equating guns with criminal violence scapegoats law abiding owners. Not only does licensing stigmatise respectable citizens, but licensing exposes them to onerous police scrutiny. In addition to an initial screening and daily monitoring by the police, firearms owners are subject to immediate arrest if a neighbor or a former spouse is concerned they pose “as a danger to themselves or others.” Even false accusations may result in a long and expensive legal process. The process is the punishment.

These problems are not just theoretical. According to StatsCan data, there are 10 times as many non-violent ‘gun crimes’ as violent gun crimes.

Demonization

Demonization of gun owners in the media leads to intimidation. The media falsely equates guns with criminal violence so that it is understandable that the public would confuse law abiding owners with criminals. Firearms ownership itself becomes to be seen as a questionable activity which leads to overzealous enforcement of minor administrative restrictions on firearms handing, such as transporting firearms to the range and “safe storage” rules. Licensing facilitates the punishment of gun owners for minor administrative violations. Even unverified accusations are troublesome. The legal process is the punishment. The legitimate concern about arbitrary arrest too often leads gun owners to hide their hobby from their neighbours. This differs little from intimidation. Is intimidation an intended feature of firearms licensing, or an accidental bug?

Bureaucratic problems

Even if one accepts the concept of licencing firearms owners, the system is ripe for abuse. First, because licensing imposes a complex bureaucratic system that necessarily subjects decent citizens to unelected government officials who wield arbitrary power. This may be true for all bureaucracies, but firearms licensing involves severe criminal sanctions, including prison time. Even unintentional mistakes may result in criminal charges, including jail time. Since bureaucracies necessarily entail complex paper work, the process may be troublesome for people who aren’t comfortable navigating such seas, such as immigrants who do not speak English as a first language, blue-collar workers, or older rural residents who are challenged by filling out governmental forms and answering complex legalistic questions.

In contrast to hunting licences, firearms licensing was imposed on firearms owners against fierce opposition. The Auditor General of Canada in her 2002 review of the Justice Department’s implementation of Bill C-68 pointed out that one of the problems with the licensing system was that some administrators of the firearms legislation believed that “the use of firearms is in itself a ‘questionable activity’” and “there should be a zero-tolerance attitude toward non-compliance.” (See item 10.67 on page 14). In comparison, hunting licences were originally introduced at the request of fish and game clubs and the staff of the provincial ministries responsible for issuing licences are often hunters themselves.

Moreover, the appeals process, when available, is lengthy and expensive, typically requiring legal counsel. Whether rare or frequent, appeals are another complex bureaucratic maze that individuals may not be able to pursue because of finances. These problems are exacerbated by an overly bureaucratic approach to regulations taken by unsympathetic administrators. The public’s fear of firearms, coupled with the severe penalties for violating administrative rules, compounds the standard bureaucratic problems because it exposes licensed owners to even false accusations by disgruntled neighbors or even vengeful ex-spouses. It is important to respect “due process:” the rights of the accused matter as well as those of the accuser. Much as the “me too” movement has led some authorities to believe claims about sexual harassment without adequate checks, police have tended to readily accept accusations against firearms owners. After being arrested, licence holders are then forced to defend themselves through an expensive and lengthy legal process to prove their innocence and retrieve their confiscated firearms. The process is the punishment.

To sum up

Maximizing harassment of law-abiding gun owners is a feature, not a bug, of gun control. The fewer gun owners, the easier to clamp down on the “bitter clingers.”

Falsely equating guns with criminal violence scapegoats law abiding owners. Scapegoating a minority has long been viewed as violating the principles of fundamental justice. It is still considered objectionable by Canadian authorities to systematically monitor criminals, even violent criminals, after their release from prison.

Not only does licensing stigmatise law-abiding citizens, but licensing exposes them to onerous police scrutiny and makes them vulnerable to false accusations. Firearms owners are subject to immediate arrest if a neighbor or a former spouse is concerned they pose “as a danger to themselves or others.” Even false accusations may result in a long and expensive legal process. The process is the punishment.

Note: This article appeared earlier in the NFA’s Canadian Firearms Journal. 

14 Comments on "Should firearms owners be licensed?"

  1. People forget that the largest mass murder in Canada was the Bluebird Cafe in Montreal where 37 people died by gasoline and a match.

  2. Please read, sign, and share the Firearms Petition E2574/E2576/E2582 and other’s.

    Please remember to check your junk mail/folder for confirmation email. Some may take up to 24hrs, Ty.

    Veuillez lire, signer et partager la pétition sur les armes à feu E2574/E2576/E2582 et autres

    N’oubliez pas de vérifier votre courrier indésirable / dossier pour l’e-mail de confirmation.Certains peuvent prendre jusqu’à 24 heures, Ty.

    Firearms Petitions;

    https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-2574

    https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-2576

    https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-2582 Now closed to signatures.

    https://www.shannonstubbs.ca/firearmsban

    https://www.change.org/p/uniforcanada-stop-unifor-from-using-our-union-dues-to-take-away-our-gun-rights?recruiter=1087707876&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=sms&utm_campaign=psf_combo_share_initial&utm_term=psf_combo_share_initial&recruited_by_id=68ccd500-91f9-11ea-88ad-4db44c747962

    https://www.taxpayer.com/petitions/scrap-the-gun-ban-and-buy-back?id=

    https://www.change.org/p/justin-trudeau-leave-legal-firearms-owners-alone-and-stop-treating-us-like-criminals

    Fire Bill Bliar Petition;

    http://cherylgallant.com/fire-bill-blair/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Fire

    Please take the time to support the many legal challenges put forth by several Individuals and Organizations against the OIC/RCMP/FRT.

    Thank you for your time, consideration, and support.

    Veuillez prendre le temps d’appuyer les nombreuses contestations juridiques présentées par plusieurs individus et organisations contre l’OCI / la GRC / le FRT.

    Merci pour votre temps, votre considération et votre soutien

    Litigations/Litiges;

    CCFR Legal Challenge
    https://firearmrights.ca/en/legal-challenge/

    K.K.S. Tactical Judicial Review
    https://cssa-cila.org/store/shop/support-kss-tactical-judicial-review/

    Public Interest Litigants Judicial Review of Order In Council SOR/2020-96.
    https://cssa-cila.org/store/shop/public-interest-litigants-judicial-review/

    NFA Court Challenge
    https://nfa.ca/2020/05/07/nfa-announces-support-court-challenge-to-liberal-gun-grab/

    J.R. Cox Fight the OIC in Court
    https://www.gofundme.com/f/jumaq-fight-the-oic-in-court

    Class Action to reverse illegal RCMP FRT changes
    https://www.gofundme.com/f/class-action-to-reverse-illegal-rcmp-frt-changes

    Judicial OIC Challenge – John Hipwell & Ed Burlew
    https://www.gofundme.com/f/judicial-oic-challenge-john-hipwell-amp-ed-burlew

    https://youtu.be/uSOzbbAq2OU

    https://youtu.be/3vYKfgxZ7d4

    https://youtu.be/JxpB6a7NzrQ

    Ty to the entire JGO Team for you continued support. All the best to you and yours throughout the CV19 epidemic.

  3. I believe CANADA should completely repeal ALL the vile, draconian liberal ANTI-GUN firearms act, firearms and other weapons sections of the criminal code of CANADA. “Any law constructed that arbitrarily imposes criminal stigmatism where no crime has taken place is to be of no force or effect” the entire gun-control lawset authored by liberals, meet the description of creating criminals where no crime exists. FORCED, FEDERAL gun-owner-licensing has proven to be a witch hunt of LIBERAL preference. The stats CLEARLY reveal that these laws do not keep Canadians safe, They ACTUALLY put Canadians at risk of undue extreme legal RISK. WHY are LIBERALS SO STUPID? HISTORY shows prohibition was disastrous outcome as with ALCOHOL and DRUGS. The Liberals will usher in a reality where anyone can but a gun, anytime, regardless of magazine capacity, or rate of fire, CHEAP, ANYTIME. This is what prohibition does! Guns can not be un-invented, They will NOT be banned out of existence, and anyone who thinks otherwise is a SPECIAL KIND OF STUPID.

  4. X2
    Please read, sign, and share the Firearms Petition E2574/E2576/E2582 and other’s.

    Please remember to check your junk mail/folder for confirmation email. Some may take up to 24hrs, Ty.

    Veuillez lire, signer et partager la pétition sur les armes à feu E2574/E2576/E2582 et autres

    N’oubliez pas de vérifier votre courrier indésirable / dossier pour l’e-mail de confirmation.Certains peuvent prendre jusqu’à 24 heures, Ty.

    Firearms Petitions;

    https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-2574

    https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-2576

    https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-2582 Now closed to signatures.

    https://www.shannonstubbs.ca/firearmsban

    https://www.change.org/p/uniforcanada-stop-unifor-from-using-our-union-dues-to-take-away-our-gun-rights?recruiter=1087707876&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=sms&utm_campaign=psf_combo_share_initial&utm_term=psf_combo_share_initial&recruited_by_id=68ccd500-91f9-11ea-88ad-4db44c747962

    https://www.taxpayer.com/petitions/scrap-the-gun-ban-and-buy-back?id=

    https://www.change.org/p/justin-trudeau-leave-legal-firearms-owners-alone-and-stop-treating-us-like-criminals

    Fire Bill Bliar Petition;

    http://cherylgallant.com/fire-bill-blair/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Fire

    Please take the time to support the many legal challenges put forth by several Individuals and Organizations against the OIC/RCMP/FRT.

    Thank you for your time, consideration, and support.

    Veuillez prendre le temps d’appuyer les nombreuses contestations juridiques présentées par plusieurs individus et organisations contre l’OCI / la GRC / le FRT.

    Merci pour votre temps, votre considération et votre soutien

    Litigations/Litiges;

    CCFR Legal Challenge
    https://firearmrights.ca/en/legal-challenge/

    K.K.S. Tactical Judicial Review
    https://cssa-cila.org/store/shop/support-kss-tactical-judicial-review/

    Public Interest Litigants Judicial Review of Order In Council SOR/2020-96.
    https://cssa-cila.org/store/shop/public-interest-litigants-judicial-review/

    NFA Court Challenge
    https://nfa.ca/2020/05/07/nfa-announces-support-court-challenge-to-liberal-gun-grab/

    J.R. Cox Fight the OIC in Court
    https://www.gofundme.com/f/jumaq-fight-the-oic-in-court

    Class Action to reverse illegal RCMP FRT changes
    https://www.gofundme.com/f/class-action-to-reverse-illegal-rcmp-frt-changes

    Judicial OIC Challenge – John Hipwell & Ed Burlew
    https://www.gofundme.com/f/judicial-oic-challenge-john-hipwell-amp-ed-burlew

    IMPORTANT CCFR VIDEOS

    https://youtu.be/uSOzbbAq2OU

    https://youtu.be/3vYKfgxZ7d4

    https://youtu.be/JxpB6a7NzrQ

  5. We might as well repeal all safety based licenses at the same time; driver’s, medical, liquor, restaurant, etc. If I want to buy booze from someone who made it in their yard, I damn well should be able to.

    If that sounds stupid, good. A PAL proves one understands basic safe handling of a firearm. Now, possessing that PAL I should be able to buy whatever kind of firearm I want just by presenting that PAL. just like as long as my
    Driver’s is valid I could buy a Ferrari if I wanted to.

    • Holding a licence gives advantages, true, but it has downsides as well. What if the police stop applications or issuing licences? Covid has shut down the CFP. What happens to holders of prohibited firearms who have to renew? Hunters? Also none of the licences you mentioned incur criminal penalties for administrative problems. What would happen if the Green Party ran Automobile Licencing? Might they restrict/punish arbitrarily? Many of the police / bureaucrats in the CFP believe no one should have guns. This happens even in Switzerland, Israel, Norway, Finland — it’s intrinsic.

    • News flash: you don’t need a driver’s license to buy or possess a Ferrarri, or to drive it on private property. You ONLY need a driver’s license if you plan to drive your Ferrarri on a public road amongst other drivers. Same for your vehicle registration actually. What is the firearms equivalent? The hunting license, which (before the invention of the PAL) required that you have taken a Hunter Safety Course before you were authorized to take your firearm out hunting amongst the other hunters…

  6. I would point out that drivers being licensed in Canada has provided no safety for the public from those who would use a vehicle to commit mass murder.

    The Toronto van attack resulted in 10 deaths and 16 injured including some critically.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toronto_van_attack

    Perhaps it should be reasonable to have the same degree of personal investigation into those applying for a driver’s license? It would be required to ask personal questions about the individual’s lifetime mental history along with all conjugal relationships. And like a firearm licensed individual, any complaint against that individual should be followed up immediately and result in their vehicle being seized along with charges laid. Also there should be strict storage rules for all vehicles, and if a vehicle is stolen then charges should be laid the same as what happens with firearms owners even when the rules for safe storage have been met.

    That way drivers would face the seem legal battles and costs from charges being laid whereby they have to utilize the legal system to sort it out even if the court in the end deems then innocent. And all these charges should be categorized as criminal offences to make drivers more responsible.

    • May I assume you are arguing in this way to show how ridiculous our current gun laws are? There are no simple solutions to violent crime. We need to improve courts, police, family, welfare, immigration, and native policy.

  7. Yes Mr. Mauser, my response is a demonstration of how ridiculous current firearms laws are using a comparison that almost all people are familiar with.

    Too many times, during a debate, the driver licensing and vehicle registration system has been used as a reason why firearms should be registered and their owners licensed.

    However, perhaps it would be a good idea to implement the same system we face as gun owners for vehicles so that the general public would get a better sense firsthand of what we face. As it is they are unaware, and the government and mainstream media feed them lies in order to ensure their maintained support for the ridiculous system we face. When you or anyone else with a detailed understanding of the firearms legal system attempts to set the record straight the first thing I always hear is that it is “fake news”.

    After all these decades of attempting to inform members of the public using intelligent conversation it would do me good to see those same people outraged if they faced a similar system for their vehicle ownership!

  8. Your argument is effective in making drivers licences as oppressive as firearms licences. As you say, it should wake up a few anti-gun people to the irrationality of the approach. Unfortunately, we may live to see the Greens run the Automobile Licence Departments and your vision of bureaucratic hell may become reality. No one will be happy then — except the minor tyrants who run the bureaucracies.

  9. I could not agree with you more about the Green political movement and vehicle ownership!

    My V8 powered vehicles will likely be forbidden on public roadways and perhaps even banned entirely. I suppose they could just be made inoperable in order to possess them as “collectible items”.

    A few years ago I was at a local car show and admiring a friend’s beautifully restored ’67 Chevy Impala with 350ci V8 engine. I remarked at what a lovely car it was and the amount of work he had put into it. Then I suggested he better hope the government does not outlaw that nasty carbon polluting V8 engine down the road. His response was, “well, they better not!”. To which I responded, “or what?”. He had no response and looked like a deer in the headlights. Perhaps he then realized that his car could be like my firearms which we had discussed the past.

    The interesting thing is that he and his late wife both supported the climate change movement hypothesis and the need for humans to limit their carbon emitting activities. Now some may find this strange, but I see the same thing among gun owners who feel that gun controls are needed for the public good without realizing that such actions may very well impact their own firearms.

    I just cannot wrap my head around some people’s thinking.

    By the way, over the past 25yrs or so, I have heard you speak in person twice and follow your research and professional presentations on behalf of Canadian gun owners. Keep up the good work sir!

  10. Anyone who talks about gun ownership will have heard the commonly trotted out response “But we have drivers licences and car registrations” , so why not guns?

    The drivers licence proves that you have demonstrated that you have at least a minimum level of skill in driving a car.
    I have not researched this, but I would wager that the vast majority of people who commit murder by deliberately driving a car into a group of pedestrians, are licenced drivers. And the car is registered. And the car is certified as mechanically fit to be on the road.
    These three pieces of paper did not stop the driver from doing what he wanted to do.
    I think that reality was behind the New Zealand 1983 change from, not licencing the gun, but licencing the person, as “Fit and Proper”

    That system worked very well until an Australian terrorist chose NZ as his home.

    Mr. Joe Green, was a NZ policeman for 32 years, retired as head of Firearms. He was in our newspapers within days of the Christchurch mosque shooting saying the Police vetting of the shooter was at fault. He listed points that raised red flags that should have stopped a licence being issued.

    Three weeks after the shooting he wrote to our Prime Minister saying exactly this.
    You can read his letter by going to the NZ Parliament website:
    https://www.parliament.nz/resource/en-NZ/52SCFE_EVI_86423_FE12673
    Then click on: “Related Full evidence text [PDF 5k]”

    = https://www.parliament.nz/resource/en-NZ/52SCFE_EVI_86423_FE12673/8cdcbeeb1207a1fa9d524edcb41514f6bca79269

    I have come into some information in my role as a former police officer, and as chair of the Firearms Safety Council of Aotearoa NZ.
    I have shared this in full with Ministers Nash and Mark.
    In brief, the gunman in the Christchurch shootings was able to obtain firearms because of systemic failures of the NZ Police to vet him as fit and proper, thereby issuing a firearms licence when he was not fit and proper to have one. This enabled him to obtain firearms.

    This systemic failure by Police arguably is the cause of the death of 50 people, and put a whole nation into mourning.

    My information can be verified simply by asking Police, or by having a look at the file, and the vetting guide that Arms Officers are required to follow.

    I suggest you get an independent person to do this for you.
    I think, like Judge Thorp in 1997, that this systemic cause has underlying it the failure by Police to fund the arms control regime.
    I’ll leave it to you.
    Sincerely
    Joe Green.

    He made two other submissions to this same committee:
    Joe Green Supp 1 – His background and opinions on various parts of the proposed law changes.
    https://www.parliament.nz/resource/en-NZ/52SCFE_EVI_86423_FE8490/3b5bd825c2ca33880a1bf957dae0421c2be8ab01

    Joe Green Supp 2 – Debunking the myths
    https://www.parliament.nz/resource/en-NZ/52SCFE_EVI_86423_FE8489/3ae67507d0e78b067c66590ab715b830a33e321d

    Submissions to this committee closed 4April 2019.
    Anyone interested in the subject has been able to read all 15000 submissions since late April 2019.
    And we have had to watch our politicians and top cops, on TV, telling the nation why Licenced Firearms Owners needed to have their guns “Bought Back” (Confiscated) Knowing the truth, they looked the camera in the eye and lied. Like all good con artists.

    Where were our ‘Main Stream Media’ and their ‘Investigative Journalists’ ?
    A Dumb-Shit, blue collar, like me, had been reading the Submissions for a year, when on 16 June 2020 one published:
    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/christchurch-shooting/120285768/mosque-terrorist-was-wrongly-granted-firearms-licence-due-to-police-mistakes-sources-say

    (The two top cops retired in April and June 2020)

    On his subject, I think Joe Green is better informed than all 120 of our Members of Parliament combined.
    Obviously I don’t know, but I’d be surprised if he didn’t also make a submission to the Royal Commission Inquiry.
    Their report-back date has been moved from Dec 2019 to Nov 2020. Our elections were to be 19 Sept 2020.
    Covid-19 has put them back to 17 October 2020 – still just after the election.

    The Royal Commission was our last hope. Even though it’s not going to be much of a read.
    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12235546

    The Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Christchurch terror attacks will keep secret the submissions of several state agencies, including spy agencies, because of risks to public safety and national security.
    The inquiry, chaired by Sir William Young, released a monthly update today and included the minutes of previous meetings that outlined what information was to be kept confidential.
    It will keep secret all submissions from:
    • the NZ Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS)
    • the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB)
    • Police
    • the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment
    • Customs
    • Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
    • Ministry of Justice
    ———-
    We can all just hope the Royal Commission is as upright and honest as we expect.
    And they really did need the extra time.
    And were not just dragging it out until after the election.
    I expect any submission from Joe Green to be published because he retired from the Police in Jan 2016.
    The Government/Police alliance has “Managed” the whole issue, so far. Can they manage a Royal Commission sub from Joe?

    I drafted this a week ago, just read Calvin Dill. Excellent!

    • Joe Clark knows what he’s talking about. I have a lot of respect for him, his knowledge, and most importantly his high ethical standards. I wish you and New Zealand the best of luck with the Royal Commission’s recommendations.

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