Firearms Owners Association
It Is Time We Claim Our Right To Armed Self-Defense
As a young boy growing up during the postwar 1950's era in a small town just south of Atlanta, firearms were an integral of my life. Hunting rabbits and quail with my Dad and my older brother are some of my best memories. In elementary school we learned about Lexington and Concord - "one if by land and two if by sea." Then on Sunday mornings in Bible School we learned about David and Goliath, Gideon, and the battles the Hebrews fought to enter the Promised Land. While every county court house in Georgia has a monument to "our Confederate dead", we memorized Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, "Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether this nation ... ." And we all knew about Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, and William Barret Travis at the Alamo. During the summer everyone in all neighborhoods understood, "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes!" meant kids at play.
I moved to Canada in the summer of 1977. That fall my colleagues at the Vet College introduced me to duck hunting. The local famers greeted our requests to hunt with a pleasant smile and the admonition, "Don't drive across the swaths." My new Canadian hunting buddies and I shared similar childhood experiences of riding our bicycles across town "with a 22 rifle over the handlebars." While there were some small cultural differences, the biggest difference I noticed was on November Eleventh. In the States we would stop for "a minute of silence." In Canada, Remembrance Day is almost sacred. Therefore I had no idea that Allan Rock would ever have the temerity to declare publically:
I was totally astonished that our federal government would presume the authority to pass legislation that would destroy our right of armed self-defence. Yet in 1995 Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and his Liberal Government did exactly that.
In the fall of 2002 as Mr. Chrétien's ministers were in the process of forcing the firearms licencing scheme upon responsible firearms owners, Dr. Ted Morton of the University of Calgary presented his damning assessment of that legislation. In his constitutional study, How the Firearms Act (Bill C-68) Violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.(2) Dr. Morton noted that where a law is found to violate a Charter right, the Supreme Court has ruled that "the burden of proof shifts to the government to prove that the law is 'rationally connected' to its purpose." Dr. Morton then observed:
As Dr. Morton pointed out, the Charter's right to liberty "guarantees to every individual a degree of personal autonomy over important decisions intimately affecting their private lives.” Yet the licencing requirement for firearms owners violates this protected sphere of personal privacy and "undermines the dignity and individual control of thousands of law-abiding hunters and farmers who have not harmed anyone." Dr. Morton expressed concern that the licencing scheme "strikes at the mere act of possessing a firearm" and imposes an "intrusive and stigmatizing regulatory regime on the lawful activity of merely possessing a firearm in the privacy of one’s own home."
In condemning this firearms legislation, Dr. Morton stated:
Unfortunately, the Supreme Court ignored sound constitutional advice and approved the Government's legislation. Now - thirteen years later - weekly national news media reports testify to the abysmal failure of this unjust law. In Surrey, BC, in the past six weeks there have been twenty-two shootings.(3) Here in Saskatoon criminal gangs are moving into the city, and they "are bringing weapons when they come."(4) As Simon Fraser University Professor Garry Mauser has clearly shown:
While approving legislation that denies us the Right to possess a firearm to defend ourselves in our homes, the Supreme Court of Canada has declared legislation against the practice of prostitution to be unconstitutional. In a nine-to-zero decision supporting the safety of prostitutes the Court declared that:
Thus our Supreme Court of Canada says the "principles of fundamental justice" protect a prostitute's right to security. Yet that same Court denies that right to responsible citizens to defend themselves against assault in their own home.
I find this situation ludicrous, incomprehensible and inconceivable! I suggest it is time we took a good hard look at how our American cousins view armed self-defence.
We all know that the Americans have the Second Amendment that protects the Right to have arms for self-defence. But less well-know is how recently that Right was under very serious assault from militant gun control advocates south of the border. Not until the 2008 United States Supreme Court decision in Heller v. District of Columbia has the Right of armed self-defense been firmly recognized as protected by the Second Amendment. The Heller case was truly a landmark decision.(7)
So, what does all that have to do with us poor Canucks? A helluva lot, actually.
In "The Natural Right of Self-Defense, Heller's Lesson to the World"(8) constitutional law Professor David B. Kopel(9) demonstrates that self-defense is an inalienable, natural Right that all people possess. In the Heller decision, the United States Supreme Court reaffirmed that the Right to have arms for self-defence predates the US Bill of Rights. The English Declaration of Rights of 1689 protects the right of armed self-defense. But the right to armed self-defence goes much further back into English history. Our right to have arms for defense is one of our "true, ancient and indubitable" rights and liberties.
In his summary, Professor Kopel states:
Professor Kopel speaks directly to our situation here in Canada. He offers us encouragement that:
Armed self-defense is our natural Right. We all have that Right. No law of Parliament nor decision by the Supreme Court of Canada can take away that Right. We simply have to have the will to believe. And we must have the will to act on our belief.
Edward B. Hudson, DVM, MS
1. Allan Rock, Canada's Minister of Justice,Maclean's "Taking aim on guns", 1994 April 25, Vol.107 Issue 17, page 12.
2. Dr. F.L.(Ted) Morton, University of Calgary, How the Firearms Act (Bill C-68) Violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms
3. Douglas Quan, National Post, 22 April 2015, Children stay indoors to avoid Surrey street shootings.
4. Charles Hamilton, The StarPhoenix, 16 April 2015, New Saskatoon police unit to target gangs and guns
5. Gary Mauser: Why the long-gun registry doesn’t work — and never did
6. Canada (Attorney General) v. Bedford, 2013 SCC 72,  3 S.C.R. 1101
7. District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), a landmark case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held in a 5-4 decision that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution applies to federal enclaves and protects an individual's right to possess a firearm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.
8. David B. Kopel, The Natural Right of Self-Defense, Heller's Lesson to the World
9. Dave B. Kopel, Research Director of the Independence Institute, a public policy research organization in Denver, Colorado, and is an Associate Policy Analyst with the Cato Institute, in Washington. Adjunct Professor of Advanced Constitutional Law at Denver University, Sturm College of Law. He is the author of 17 books, and over 97 scholarly articles published in journals such as the Harvard Law Review, Yale Law Journal, and Johns Hopkins SAIS Review.
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