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Hello Russell Wangersky. Forgive the familiarity; I feel as though I know you from reading your articles. I’d like to take you up on the invitation you issued in the Aug. 9 Guardian column ‘No one needs a handgun,’ namely, why should handguns be sold in Canada?
Who am I? Kate MacQuarrie, head of Women Shooters of P.E.I. (please visit our Facebook page for more info), a federally-certified instructor since 1991 for both the non-restricted and restricted Canadian Firearms Safety Courses, gun owner, hunter and target shooter.
I’ll start with this. In a free, democratic country like Canada, property ownership is not restricted by need. Consider your possessions — a car, a TV, and likely more than one suit and pair of shoes? How much of what you own do you need versus want?
What’s that you say — your shoes have never killed anyone? Neither have my guns. And LOTS of things kill more people than guns — knives, alcohol, cars, doctors, lifestyle choices, crime that does not involve a firearm.
If you are going to argue that the legally-acquired property of law-abiding Canadians should be prohibited, I think it’s fair that you have a darn good reason.
Last year, there were 249 victims of firearm homicide in Canada — 143 of these were by handgun. The fact is, virtually none of these crimes were committed by licensed gun owners nor by legal guns; we both know that urban gangs are the issue. Indeed, licensed gun owners in Canada are less likely than the general Canadian population to commit homicide (0.60/100,000 for gun owners compared to 1.81/100,000 for the general adult population).
Firearms licence holders are not only the safest Canadians, we are the most closely scrutinized.
Did you know that every day my name is checked against the Canadian Police Information Centre to see if there have been any charges or complaints against me?
It’s called “Continuous Eligibility Screening” and is applied to every person with a firearms licence in Canada. Convicted criminals and those prohibited from owning firearms are not subjected to that.
If law enforcement asks, I must open my home to them so they can confirm that my firearms and ammunition are being stored in accordance with the law.
And every five years, I must renew my firearms licence and the associated background check (which includes providing contact info for any current or past conjugal partners).
I could go on, but my point is I believe you are asking the wrong question. Gun owners should not have to demonstrate a “need” for a firearm any more that you should have to demonstrate a “need” for anything you own (and remember, some of those objects kill more people than firearms do).
I enjoy sports shooting. It’s something women and men can compete at on a level field. I enjoy watching the women I teach build skills, confidence and self-respect on the gun range. And I think that if you believe that should be taken away from me or future generations, it’s fair to ask that you back that up with something stronger than you don’t think people should be able to buy guns. Gun owners — and our legally-owned guns — are not the problem.
Kate MacQuarrie, Women Shooters of P.E.I.