Firearms Owners Association
NewsLetter July 2009
Our Blind Faith and Trust Is at an End
When the Liberals introduced the Firearms Act (C-68), in 1995,
firearms owners packed halls across the country in protest. Gun owners
were, rightfully, ‘up in arms’ over the Liberals’ trampling
on their rights with a grossly expensive and totally ineffectual law.
Over the intervening period, the Reform Party, followed by the Alliance
Party, and then the new Conservative Party, promised an end to this fiscal
waste, that did nothing to prevent responsible gun owners from social
ostracism while ignoring the real problem of criminal misuse of firearms.
But once the Conservatives formed the government the pressure to obtain
votes in the spiraling urban centers of Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver
and other high-density population centers, where the false promise of
"gun control" is attractive, has proven to be more tempting
than the Conservative Party could bear.
Saskatchewan: In September 2003 we openly challenged the RCMP
to arrest us while we were game bird hunting without a federal firearms
licence. The RCMP used Criminal Code section 117.03 authority provided
by the Firearms Act to seize and confiscate our shotguns without
laying charges. We have challenged that action through the entire Saskatchewan
court system. Eleven months after presenting our appeal, we are still
waiting for a decision from the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal.
Ontario: In September 2004 in Dryden, Bruce & Donna Montague were arrested for their peaceful, public demonstration of “Unauthorized possession of a firearm” - not having a license to possess their firearms - violation of Criminal Code section 91(1).
British Columbia constitutional lawyer Doug Christie will be taking
Bruce & Donna’s constitutional challenge to the Ontario Court
of Appeal in Toronto in the late fall or perhaps early winter.
CUFOA is actively pursuing Intervener status. We have retained the services of Ottawa lawyer Terry Green who is making application for CUFOA to be heard at the appeal.
Quebec: This past May dedicated libertarian writer Pierre Lemieux
openly refused to obey the government’s order to surrender his firearms
after his firearms licence expired. Alberta lawyer Richard Fritze is taking
Pierre’s constitutional challenge through the Quebec courts.
These cases are vital to our Right to possess firearms
Your generous financial support is needed!
What is Wrong with Having a Licence?
I have a very good friend who does not seem to be able to understand why we so steadfastly, adamantly refuse to apply for a license to possess our firearms.
No, she does not use the worn-out argument “we get a licence to drive a car”. And my friend understands the difference between “licence” and “registration”. She understands that the licence applies to the person and the registration applies to the vehicle. My friend is a farm girl so she also understands that we can own a car or truck on a farm and drive across our personal property with neither a driver’s licence nor vehicle registration.
What my friend has a problem comprehending is the difference between the licence mandated by the Firearms Act of 1995 – the Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL) - and the 1977 vintage Firearms Acquisition Certificate (FAC) that I previously to carried with me everywhere I went.
In our frequent discussions I have begun by explaining that the FAC was a merely a “certificate” that “certified” something. In this case the FAC certified that I had paid the police ten bucks to check their records, and that they had not found my name on any of their various lists. Therefore the police issued me a certificate, and I could legally acquire firearms.
I would then explain the significance of the “L” in the PAL that stands for “licence”. There is a BIG difference between a “licence” and a “certificate”. The licence – issued by the federal government – gives a person permission to do something that would otherwise be illegal. In this case the “L” part of the PAL gives a person government permission to acquire and possess firearms. [For purposes of brevity I ignore the POL that conveys permission only to possess previously acquired firearm.]
I would then try to explain that with the 1977-style FAC we could acquire a firearm and then destroy the FAC and still possess our firearms. But under the 1995 Firearms Act, a person in possession of a firearm is now required to have a licence. The Firearms Act gives the police the authority to “demand” that we produce a licence when in possession of our firearms. So now any time I am out hunting ducks– in addition to having my Saskatchewan hunting licence, provincial habitat stamp, and federal migratory bird permit – the federal government demands that I now also have a federal firearms licence - as if the Saskatchewan Hunter Safety Course was meaningless because if was provided by dedicated wildlife volunteers.
I then firmly state that we have openly refused to comply with the federal government’s mandate to apply for a firearms licence to possess or acquire our firearms, and that we will not cease our peaceful non-compliance until the government repeals the entire Firearms Act.1
I think I have done well in my concise explanation. If I did not look into my friend’s eyes I would most likely consider the topic well covered. But there is something bugging my friend. Hesitantly, for my friend knows me well and does not want to spend the next five hours on this topic, she asks, “But what is wrong with having a licence? Are we not safer when firearms owners have a licence?”
So I take a deep breath and try again.
Yes, we both agree that some degree of government scrutiny is probably logical where the transfer of a firearm is involved. Both the now obsolete FAC and the current PAL help the seller of a firearm to have some degree of comfort in knowing that he/she is most likely not transferring a firearm to a known violent criminal. But since criminals ignore both the FAC and PAL and can easily acquire any type of firearms they desire, neither the FAC nor the PAL provides any safety benefit to society except to the seller of a firearm. The 1977 FAC provided that degree of societal protection just as well as the 1995 Firearms Act PAL, and at a minuscule fraction of the cost.
But the point that my friend needs to understand – and understand well – is that the Firearms Act of 1995 attempts to strip honest, responsible citizens of our innate, Natural Right of armed self-defense. That objective is implicitly written into the Firearms Act at Section 117(a) & (c)(i):
With the Firearms Act the federal government now claims total responsibility for our protection.
Having seen enough Liberal and Conservative scams and dishonesty, both provincially and nationally, my friend no longer unquestioningly trusts our government. She understands that our personal self-protection is something far too important to be entrusted to any government agent or agency.
Therefore for her personal well-being, my friend needs to comprehend the vital difference between an FAC and a PAL. The distinguishing difference is based neither on cost nor efficiency. The difference is between a Right versus a mere privilege; a Right we hold and exercise at our discretion, or a privilege the government grants at its pleasure.
If we do not preserve our Right to have ‘Armes for their Defense’ the government will regulate our firearms – and our self-protection - out of existence.
Edward B. Hudson DVM, MS
(2) The Canadian Right of ‘Armes for their Defense’ –
Briller comme des chandelles
Un des slogans du premier ministre Jean Charest est de «briller parmi les meilleurs». Mais à Québec, à Ottawa et à Toronto, ce que nous pouvons dire avec certitude c’est que Big Brother et ses fonctionnaires se portent bien en nous endettant, que la population fonctionne au ralenti, et même à reculons, et que tout ce qu’elle peut escompter pour les années à venir ce sont des hausses de taxes. Big Brother serait-il en train de se couper l’herbe sous les pieds en plumant la poule avant qu’elle donne des œufs ?
Tout ce que le gouvernement du Québec a trouvé pour «briller» après l’affaire Dawson, c’est de renforcer l’État de surveillance, de dénonciation, de rendre la vie encore plus difficile pour les clubs de tir et leurs membres. Avec la loi Anastasia, bienvenue aux criminels dans les «institutions désignées», comme les écoles, les collèges, les universités, car ils auront la certitude que personne ne sera armé pour les arrêter. Bienvenue aussi aux délateurs, car même après avoir porté une fausse accusation il n’y a aucun recours pour le propriétaire d’armes à feu qui aura été dénoncé injustement. Il suffit à tout professionnel des services de santé d’avoir «un motif raisonnable» de croire qu’une personne peut être dangereuse pour la dénoncer à la police. La saisie des armes à feu est automatique.
Par cette loi, seul un organisme à but non lucratif peut exploiter un club de tir avec armes à autorisation restreinte ou prohibées. Un club ne pourra donc compter que sur les revenus de ses cotisations aux membres pour améliorer les installations du club. Je n’ai jamais vu d’états financiers d’aucun club de tir, même de ceux à but non lucratif.
Cette loi insiste sur la sécurité dans la pratique du tir en vue d’éliminer toute personne ou club qui ne respecte pas à la lettre, sans faute, toutes les exigences imposées selon des «motifs raisonnables». Le problème, c’est que cette loi, en supposant par exemple que Kimveer Gill ait eu un comportement sécuritaire à son club de tir, n’aurait pas permis de déterminer s’il avait des intentions criminelles !
La situation de Pierre Lemieux
L’Honorable juge Michèle Toupin a livré son jugement le 17 juin en refusant le renvoi en Cour du Québec de l’opposition de Pierre Lemieux à la décision de la police des armes à feu de ne pas renouveler son permis, malgré deux renouvellements antérieurs ; Pierre Lemieux a omis de répondre à la question «During the past two (2) years, have you experienced a divorce, a separation, a breakdown of a significant relationship, job loss or bankruptcy?». Au début des audiences, l’Honorable a paru quelque peu hystérique quand le procureur de Pierre Lemieux, Me Richard Fritze, a voulu contester l’obligation d’obtenir un permis d’armes à feu sur la base des droits constitutionnels. Elle écrit dans son jugement que «les tribunaux ne doivent pas devenir le théâtre d’échanges philosophiques ou juridiques», ce que les juges font couramment, mieux que les théologiens qui pouvaient discuter du sexe des anges. Les droits constitutionnels seraient, selon l’Honorable, «sans conséquence sur le litige» dont elle est saisie. Elle soutient que «la délivrance d’un renouvellement de permis de possession d’armes à feu est un privilège par opposition à un droit». Voilà qui est une assertion à la fois philosophique et juridique ! Les privilèges deviennent comme un élastique que l’on étire, selon le bon plaisir des «Honorables».
L’Honorable a aussi oublié de mentionner dans son jugement que la production de la lettre de refus exigeait que la police des armes à feu insère dans son système informatique de données que Pierre Lemieux est une personne dangereuse, ce qui n’est pas mentionné dans la lettre de refus. Ne pas répondre à une question fait de nous des personnes dangereuses, aux yeux de la police. Tous ceux qui ont reçu un refus de permis seraient donc fichés «personnes dangereuses».
Plus loin dans son jugement, l’Honorable cite les articles du Code criminel relatifs à la légitime défense. Elle écrit que le procureur de Pierre Lemieux aurait fait fi de ces articles lorsqu’il a invoqué la possession d’une arme à feu pour se défendre. Or, ces articles n’excluent aucunement l’usage d’une arme à feu, si nécessaire, ou tout autre moyen de défense. Au cours des audiences, l’Honorable a déclaré, en anglais : «Self-defense does not allow you to kill somebody.» Oui, selon l’article 34 qu’elle cite du Code criminel, qui commence comme suit : «Quiconque est illégalement attaqué et cause la mort ou une lésion corporelle grave en repoussant l’attaque est justifié si : etc., etc.». Notons en passant cette expression jésuitique : «illégalement attaqué». Seul Big Brother peut attaquer… légalement, semble-t-il.
Big Brother se porte bien. Mais pour combien de temps encore ?
As former Responsible Firearms Owners of Alberta President Dale Blue constantly reminded us before his untimely death, subsection 92(13) of the British North America Act, 1867 & 1982 states that “Property and Civil Rights (are) in the Province”. Putting Dale’s idea to work in Saskatchewan we have been attempting to enshrine our Right to own property in provincial law.
Working through our local constituency associations we therefore proposed to have our provincial Saskatchewan Party adopt property rights resolutions at their annual Convention last November.
As we reported on the CUFOA WebSite we failed completely in our attempt. Our newly elected so-call right-of-center ministers did not want to let go of any power. But we did learn some valuable political lessons for our pain.
Because the protection of property rights is so vitally important – and would offer unlicensed firearms owners some protection from federal government seizure and confiscation without conviction – we are using our hard-gained experience and trying again this year. The Saskatchewan Government must recognize that we have the Right to own our own property.
Dr. Joe Gingrich
This Is Our War
In a recent international dust-up over the French “neglecting” to invite Queen Elizabeth to the 65th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy, a British newspaper columnist rhetorically asked French President Nicolas Sarkozy, “What did YOUR dad do in the war?”1
It has been a long time since I have heard that expression. However Canadian firearms owners need to begin preparing for the day when our kids will be asking us, “What did you do in the war?” Leonard Cohen’s song “There is a war” is quite applicable to our situation right here in Canada. There is a war going on in Canada, and, as Mr. Cohen advocates, we are not “tourists”; it is time for us to “get in it”.2
The “war” in which we are engaged is the defense of our Right to have ‘Armes for their Defense’ which our ancestors affirmed in 1689 in the English Declaration of Rights.3 In 1991 former Prime Minister Kim Campbell covertly began an assault on this Right with Bill C-17 that added a federal firearms training course to the FAC application, in effect turning the FAC into a licence. The Liberals then declared outright war in 1995 by passing Bill C-68, the Firearms Act with its right-destroying licensing mandate. Inexplicably Prime Minister Stephen Harper has continued this unjustified war on our Right of self-protection by promoting an “enhanced licensing” scheme.
The federal government would obviously deny that there is a war. But make no mistake; with the Firearms Act the federal government declared war on honest, responsible citizens. By this grab for inordinate, unreasonable power the government fully intends to change our Right to own firearms into a mere privilege. The power to licence gives the federal government the ability to eliminate the private ownership of firearms.4
Firearms owners face a tough choice. Applying for a licence to possess our firearms announces that we have surrendered; that we trust the government never to harm us, and that docilely we depend solely upon the government for the protection of our family and ourselves. On the other hand, refusing to apply for a licence declares that we do not recognize the authority of the government to control the most vital aspect of our lives. This action also makes us subject to ten years in prison.
Therefore we either subserviently submit to the irrational, unjust demand to apply for government permission merely to possess the means to protect ourselves in our own homes, or we refuse to surrender our innate, Natural Right of self-protection and engage in open conflict with our government.
There are three separate, extremely important court challenges to the constitutional validity of the Firearms Act in various stages of appeal. But a point must be clearly understood: even if these legal arguments do not carry the day in court, this will not be the end of our fight. Whatever the outcome of the court cases, whatever the answer of the government, we will not surrender our Right to have ‘Armes for their Defense’. We do not depend upon either government grant or court sanction for the Right to have the means to defend ourselves. We know we have this Right.5
Before we win this war, some of us – perhaps many of us – may have to join Bruce Montague in prison. But we are prepared now to defend our Right of self-protection by all peaceful, non-violent means. For as Winston Churchill said,
Our generation has enjoyed the extreme good fortune of having had the example of parents and grandparent who were willing to sacrifice for freedom. We grew up owning firearms when we “could go into a hardware store and purchase a surplus Lee-Enfield .303 rifle and a box of ammunition and walk home.” We know what freedom looks and feels like. Therefore we bear the primary responsibility of defending this vital freedom for the next generation.
We did not ask for this war. But this is our war. We will stand fast.
Edward B. Hudson DVM, MS
1. Sarkozy’s U.S. love-fest hits a few snags
2. " There Is A War ", Leonard Cohen
3. English Declaration of Rights, 1689
4. Lemieux, Pierre, A Kafkaesque process
5. Natural Law
6. Winston Churchill, The Gathering Storm (vol. 1 of The Second World War), p. 348 (1948).
Canadian Unlicensed Firearms Owners Association