by Rob Bogunovic
Vice President, PPC Fraser Valley EDA
Chilliwack BC June 17, 2022
I have never owned a gun, never fired a gun, and never been a victim of a gun crime, yet I’ve become quite interested in the current debate regarding gun ownership in Canada. My interest is an intellectual one that stems from my desire to help Canada remain a relatively safe and prosperous land. When I examine the types of arguments being advanced by the pro-gun and anti-gun lobbies, it seems to me that the arguments divide sharply along two ways of thinking. For those who think with their hearts, the anti-gun arguments strike all the right chords. For those who think with their heads, pro-gun arguments prevail. Gun crimes are shocking and horrific, but are gun-bans the answer?
With Bill C-21, Justin Trudeau is expanding his assault on legal gun ownership. Two years ago, Trudeau decided to shamelessly exploit the mass-shooting in Nova Scotia to justify banning 1,500 models of assault-style weapons. Now a mass-shooting in Texas is his pretext to implement a national freeze on handgun ownership. Incredibly, none of the measures being introduced would have prevented either mass-shooting event.
The Nova Scotia tragedy was the result of massive incompetence. The shooter appears to have gotten his rifles from the United States – illegally – and the shooter should have been red flagged in the system. As a 33-year-old, the shooter received a conditional discharge for repeatedly punching a 15-year old kid for standing to close to his business. Another man beat on the boy with a crowbar, and then both men stomped on the boy while he was on the ground. The shooter plead guilty to this offense and was made to pay the victim $50, complete nine months of probation, and enter an anger-management program. This left him with no criminal record. Our system of justice failed, as did government mandated anger-management.
There were reports that the shooter was illegally stockpiling weapons, but these were ignored by the RCMP. The provincial emergency alert system was never used to warn people that the shooter was masquerading as a cop, and for some reason, actual cops shot up a fire hall that was being used as an emergency refuge during the event. The two cops who shot up the firehall defended their actions, saying they believed they had found the shooter. They were shooting at David Westlake, the emergency management coordinator for Colchester County. The police faced bureaucratic delays getting an aircraft to help track down the shooter. The RCMP helicopter was grounded for maintenance, and their fixed-wing aircraft was also unavailable. When the Mounties learned there was a military aircraft available, they called for it, but they had trouble passing the request up through official channels. Other resources that could have been mobilized simply weren’t, and so for thirteen hours the shooter was able to carry on his rampage, always a step ahead of the police. This was a failure of law enforcement.
Uvalde and Parkland were much the same. The Uvalde Police could not have done a worse job handling the situation, and the absurd and contradictory explanations they have offered in defense of their conduct erodes whatever grace one might be inclined to extend their way. The inquiry into Parkland has revealed a range of failures on the part of law enforcement officials.
Law enforcement does what it can, but they make mistakes, are slowed down by bureaucratic red-tape, and are often understaffed. Their leadership are often politically partisan, and in recent days rank-and-file officers have had good cause to be quite demoralized. Trudeau may insist that we all trust the police with our lives and the protection of our loved ones, but he also insists that the RCMP suffers from “systemic racism” and needs to “transform its culture and create a culture of accountability, equity, diversity and inclusion.” Trudeau insists that the entire criminal justice system engages in “systemic racism and discrimination”, which is the only explanation he can offer for the “overrepresentation of Black and racialized Canadians and Indigenous Peoples in the justice system.” If Trudeau doesn’t trust our law enforcement agencies to be fair, just, and responsive to the needs of the communities that they serve, how can he expect us to trust them with the safety of those we love?
And how can we trust the Liberals? They have had police behaving very badly in service of their narrow political agendas. The Freedom Convoy to Ottawa was an objectively peaceful protest, yet the Liberals illegally invoked the Emergency Measures Act, froze bank accounts, and had police playing the part of thugs and criminals, stealing food and fuel from the truckers in a blatant and dangerous attempt to freeze them into submission. The police trampled an old native woman, pointed assault-style weapons at peaceful protesters, and used “mid-range impact weapons” on protesters in order to overcome a “barrage of resistance” from those they deemed unfit to gather on the public streets of our nation’s capital.
Complete reliance on police is impractical and untenable – especially given recent circumstances. People need to be able to look after their own security. Even if the police were consistently competent at doing their jobs, there will always be a delayed response. The police can’t be everywhere necessary to stop every crime.
Plato is reported to have said, “Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws”. Most of Canada’s licensed gun-owners are the good people who obey the law, which is why they are licensed. Most of Canada’s gun violence involves people who are bad, and the law is not effectively restraining the excesses of these people. Depriving good people of the chance to defend themselves will only embolden bad people to do more bad things.
Two years ago, Trudeau used an order-in-council to ban scary looking guns like the AR-15. AR-15s are a very popular rifle in Canada. We have around 60,000 AR-15s registered, and yet despite their popularity, an AR-15 has never been used in a mass shooting in Canada. That tells me that Canadian owners of AR-15s have collectively demonstrated that they can safely possess these firearms. In the United States, where the AR-15 is also very popular, only about one-tenth of one percent of homicides were produced by mass shootings involving AR-15s. While hunters can use a different weapon, so can murderers - and the evidence suggests that they mostly do.
Guns are necessary for people to defend themselves. Nova Scotia, Uvalde, Parkland, Christchurch, and dozens of other mass-shooting events all demonstrate that one cannot merely rely on police to protect you. Even stronger evidence comes by way of the hundreds of potential mass shootings that were only foiled because of the timely intervention of good guys with guns – many of whom were not in uniform.
The 2019 Christchurch shooting was used by the antigun lobby to generate a lot of reactionary fears, yet as a justification for a gun ban it made no sense. New Zealand had very tough gun laws, and the lack of a good guy with a gun is what enabled the shooter to rack up such a kill count. After all, he didn’t just hit one mosque. He hit two.
Texas keeps demonstrating just how much good a good guy with a gun can do. In 2017, the Sutherland Springs church shooter killed 26 people - the deadliest mass shooting in Texan history and the deadliest at an American place of worship. As with other incidents, law-enforcement failed to do their job. The shooter should have been prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms and ammunition due to a domestic violence conviction while the shooter was in the U.S. Air Force, but the Air Force failed to record the conviction in the FBI National Crime Information Center database. The shooter was stopped by Stephen Willeford, a local resident and former firearms instructor who was armed with an AR-15.
In 2019, another would-be mass-shooter targeted a church in Texas. The West Freeway Church of Christ shooting saw two members of the congregation killed by the gunman before he was shot and killed by Jack Wilson, a former reserve deputy sheriff who was also a firearms instructor. The whole exchange lasted 6 seconds. Six seconds barely gives one time to call 9-11.
Mass shootings are tragic and emotional, and Leftists rely on such events to push forward their anti-gun agenda, but these events also demonstrate the futility of the Leftists’ approach to solving gun violence. All one has to do is sift through the evidence and ask a few questions, and the Leftists’ assertions completely fall apart.
Furthermore, gun bans don’t actually reduce gun violence when the guns being banned remain widely available to criminals. Chicago has very tough gun laws, and they experience a lot of gun violence. What these bans do is grant criminals a massive advantage over the citizenry upon which they prey. Legal guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens are an effective deterrent. In the United States, the CDC found that the presence of a gun prevented between 300,000 and 1.5 million crimes per year. Forbes has a good article addressing this issue: “Any Study Of ‘Gun Violence’ Should Include How Guns Save Lives” by Paul Hsieh.
Perhaps more importantly, guns are necessary to oppose tyranny. A disarmed population is powerless to respond to a foreign invader or a home-grown dictator. Has no one thought it strange that the same people who rushed to put guns into the hands of Ukrainians are also hell-bent on taking them away from law-abiding Canadians? If Trudeau behaved less like a dictator, people might be less concerned.
In the 2020 assault on gun owners, Trudeau used an order-in-council to by-pass the House of Commons (our elected legislative body). Order-in-councils are meant to empower the government to respond quickly to emergencies that could not be reasonably anticipated and that require swift action. They are also used to appoint people to federal office, because having parliament vote on over 3,000 government-appointees would erode their availability to debate/discuss other matters. Trudeau side-stepped the democratic process with his order-in-council.
Trudeau has also eradicated any semblance of a free press in Canada, and he has imposed tremendous levels of censorship upon Canadians, and is promising even more. He illegally invoked the Emergency Measures Act to crack down on peaceful protesters, and he has told innumerable lies about it ever since. He maintains travel restrictions on unvaccinated Canadians when these restrictions make no sense, and his Minister of Justice recently said that “We don’t have a private property right protected by the Constitution in Canada.”
In justifying his recent freeze on handguns, Trudeau declared, “as we see gun violence continue to rise, it is our duty to keep taking action. Today we’re moving forward.” As with so many of his recent draconian decisions, the facts don’t support his rhetoric. Canada doesn’t have rising rates of gun violence. In 2017 Canada had 667 homicides, 267 by shooting. In 2020 Canada had 743 homicides, 277 by shooting. There were 10 more shooting homicides, an increase of about 3.7%, but because the population grew by that same amount, the per capita rate did not change. In contrast, there were 31 more stabbing homicides, an increase of 15%, and there were 21 more beating homicides, an increase of 19%.
Furthermore, these numbers are not statistically alarming. Canada’s homicide rate is 1/7th the rate in the United States. Our existing laws have worked pretty well, and there is no reason to believe that Trudeau’s freeze on handguns is going to make us any safer. If Trudeau is lying to us about why he’s doing this, should we not be worried about what his real agenda may be?
The only rational and reasonably persuasive argument I’ve ever heard a Leftist advance in support of banning guns concerns the use of guns by those committing suicide. Over 75% of Canadian firearm fatalities are suicides. A UC Davis study found that male handgun owners were eight times more likely to die by suicide than non-owners. The study also found a strong association with heavy drinking. While many might claim that people bent on suicide will just find another way, there is cause to believe that the lethality of the method chosen does impact upon the success rate, and when it comes to lethality, it is hard to beat a handgun. A compelling case can thus be made that banning handguns will result in fewer suicides, yet I think this appeal ultimately fails.
If this logic were embraced, it would require that governments also ban most forms of fast food, many sports and recreations, rig our vehicles so they can’t achieve speeds higher than 50 kilometers/hour, and insist that rubber mats be placed in every shower and bathtub. While I might want the government to protect me from you, I never want the government to have the power to protect me from me.
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Having been a teacher in Chilliwack for more than 20 years, Rob's vast knowledge of history and social sciences made him a formidable debater during the federal election campaigns of 2019 and 2021 as the PPC Candidate for Chilliwack-Hope. Now, stepping into a mentorship role for the Fraser Valley EDA, Rob will continue to offer his well-prepared and worldly wise style of leadership and service to the community and future Fraser Valley candidates.
Contact Rob Bogunovic at email@example.com