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

Philosophical Basis
for Civil Disobedience

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We have a duty TO DISOBEY (2003.03.02)

DATE : SUN MAR.02,2003
CLASS : Special Section 6

We have a duty TO DISOBEY

Editorial Staff By Edward Hudson

On New Year's Day, in the face of widespread civil disobedience to the federal government's dictate that all rifles and shotguns must be registered, David Austin, chief spokesman for the Canadian Firearms Center, declared on national television: "In a democracy we do not get to choose which laws we will obey."

As with all good propaganda pronouncements, Mr Austin's assertion contains only a very small element of truth. Indeed, we live in a democracy. But contrary to Mr. Austin's specious declaration, that very fact demands that we choose which laws we obey.

Only a person living in a totalitarian dictatorship is compelled by fear to "obey or die" all laws passed by the state. We actively participate in our governance and in the passage and propagation of our laws. Therefore, we cannot submissively claim to be "just following orders" as if we had no other option.

When a law is so odious that it violates basic civil liberties or contravenes well-established human rights, we have no choice but to disobey it. To obey such an unjust law would invalidate the very principles upon which our democratic government is founded.

The Firearms Act is such an unjust law.

Parliament ostensibly passed the Firearms Act of 1995 to improve safety. Yet the new law added absolutely nothing in the way of improvements to an already well-established gun-control system.

Since 1977, Canada has limited the sale of firearms to those people who have been thoroughly screened by the police and receive a Firearm Acquisition Certificate (FAC). This FAC procedure was supported by both police and responsible firearms owners, and worked very well. In response to the shooting tragedy in Montreal, Parliament added safe storage and safe handling to the the firearms laws in 1991.

Court-issued prohibition orders have always been available for the police to seize firearms from irresponsible citizens who either misuse them or are otherwise found to represent a menace to society. Thus, Canadian society was very well protected from irresponsible firearms owners prior to 1995.

Yet the Firearms Act was superimposed on all these laws, specifically adding a licensing requirement for everyone who owned a firearm and mandating an entirely new system for the registration of all firearms (registration of handguns having been required since 1934).

These malevolent additions provided NO net benefit to society, yet came with a terrible price in loss of civil liberty. The Firearms Act is not merely an exorbitantly expensive, unnecessary, wasteful law. It is a violation of the sacred trust between the federal government and the people of Canada.

The Firearms Act violates at least seven specific liberties guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, namely the rights to privacy, mobility, security from unreasonable search and seizure, presumption of innocence, representation, freedom of association and against self-incrimination,

Dr. Ted Morton, of the University of Calgary department of political science, echoing many well-respected academics, has concluded that "there is no connection between the objectives of the Firearms Act and the means to implement it. Fair minded judges will have no choice but to declare the Firearms Act unconstitutional."

While civil disobedience to a duly-passed law is an extreme act, it should not be considered unreasonable under these circumstances. For most North Americans, Henry David Thoreau's postulate sets the standard: "When a man's conscience and the laws clash, it is his conscience that he must follow."

If ever a law met Thoreau's benchmark for civil disobedience, the Firearms Act does. As responsible Canadian citizens we have a duty to disobey the Firearms Act.

We will not rest until the law is repealed.

Ed Hudson is a veterinarian and secretary of the Canadian Unregistered Firearm Owners Association, based in Saskatoon, Sask.