Canadian Unlicensed Firearms Owners Association
Association canadienne des propriétaires d’armes sans permis

A Cancer of the Soul

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Has the Conservative Party betrayed firearms owners?

Date: 01 November 2007

by Larry Tardiff

Cabinet minister Stockwell Day's claim that Bill C-21 is the fulfillment of the Conservative Party of Canada's promise to do away with the firearms registry is a blatant betrayal of what was promised to firearms owners and a failure to comply with stated Conservative Party policy.

There is a huge difference between a "licence system" and a "certifying system" and it is much more than the "semantics" Minister Day would have us believe. The difference carries large implications in property law and practical regulatory enforcement. Responsible firearms owners are aware that a federal licence is a legal vehicle which outlaws an activity or type of property and converts ownership of the licensed property to the licence-issuer, in this case the government.

The licence holder may have possession of the property but not ownership. In a legal sense, a licence is a specifically-tailored excuse to break the law issued by a sovereign authority. What law is being broken after the passage of Bill C-68? The simple possession of a firearm, your firearm, is unlawful.

As we see in the Firearms Act, Section 92, it is now a criminal offence in Canada to own a gun unless you have a specifically tailored legal defence, a firearms licence, which shelters one from prosecution. The charge is possession (note they do not say ownership as this is now claimed by the Crown) of a firearm without a licence or registration. Note further that what has been criminalized is the simple ownership of a firearm, which the owner has not converted to state control via the licensing conversion device.

Possession is now a state-dispensed privilege as ownership converts to the state and private possession is outlawed via the licensing scheme.

Licensing, together with criminalizing peaceful possession, is a scheme to convert the misdemeanor (provincial regulatory control of chattel property -- guns) to a criminal act. This allowed the Liberals to bring possession under the scope of the federal criminal law-making power, otherwise regulation of private property is a constitutional provincial jurisdiction.

The firearms-owning public is aware that the licensing system is a Liberal plan to criminalize property and convert ownership to the state.

It is why the wording of Bill C-21 is much more than a game of semantics. The bill should be about doing away with the licensing system and going back to a system which certifies the trustworthiness of the owner.

The certification system would not criminalize those who are in legitimate possession of firearms, it would only be required by those who wish to acquire, (lend, sell, buy or trade) firearms. The certification would include a criminal background check and proof of a safety course. There would also be provision in the certification to simply issue without cost or requirements (grandfather) a certification to anyone who has held firearms under an FAC/POL/PAL as these individuals have proven to be trustworthy.

The key is to certify the individual. If the individual is trustworthy, then registering guns and restricting their use is of little benefit in either crime prevention or public safety. The recreational firearms community are among the safest groups in society. A firearms owner can get $ million in liability insurance for shooting activities for less than $20 a year. Insurance actuaries prove lawful firearms users are not crime or accident prone, this stigma exists only in the propaganda of firearms prohibitionists.

All this was discussed in depth at the Conservative Party's policy scrums and the policy convention which ratified the party's position on the firearms act. The text of Bill C-21, and its call for the continued criminalization of civilian firearm ownership through a licence system, is a betrayal of firearms owners and a sellout of written, ratified party policy.

The provisions under penalty of law for selling a gun and the requirement to record the sale is just the same as a registry requirement to report a sale. In essence, the requirement to register sales under penalty is as if the registry were still in effect.

There is no move to destroy the registry records so we should assume that the government will still be used to indict gun owners regardless of their inaccuracies.

(Larry Tardiff was a candidate for the Reform Party in Provencher in the 1997 federal election. Mr. Tardiff is deceased.)