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OPINION: Gun debate not about guns

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Contact The Guardian to submit a letter to the Editor. - SaltWire Network

Kate MacQuarrie
Guest opinion

As Members of Parliament prepare to return to Ottawa next week, it’s timely to remind them of some basic principles of good governance. 

We expect our MPs to support democratic processes and evidence-based decision making, and to defend our rights and freedoms.

Sadly, the federal Liberals’ approach to firearms will be an egregious affront to each of these.

In December, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair stated that the legally-owned property of tens (maybe hundreds) of thousands of Canadians would be banned using an order-in-council.

That means without any Parliamentary debate.  

This clearly bypasses democratic process.

Regardless of your views on firearms, surely you will agree that it is reasonable to expect that law-abiding Canadians not be stripped of their private property without full debate in the House of Commons.

The promised bans are based on emotion, not evidence. Statistics Canada tells us that less than one-half of one per cent of police reported crime in Canada involves a firearm.

Put another way, more than 99.5% of crime involves no gun. 

The majority of homicides and suicides do not involve firearms. The average Canadian is more than three times more likely to commit a homicide than is a firearms owner.

The oft-maligned AR-15 has never been used to kill anyone in Canada.  

Many of the guns to be banned are used safely for hunting every year in Canada. I could go on. The evidence does not support a need for further restrictions on legal gun owners.

Law enforcement – including the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police – agrees with this.

Next is the issue of property rights. Canada is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 17 of that declaration enshrines property rights and the right not to be arbitrarily deprived of property.   

Rights are subject to reasonable restrictions of course, and firearms ownership is highly restricted in Canada.

Confiscating private property from Canadians who have complied with all restrictions and who are statistically the safest citizens in the country – and doing so based on emotion, not evidence – is both arbitrary and unreasonable.

Lastly, are civil liberties – the freedom we enjoy from interference in our peaceful pursuits. More than two million Canadians have earned the freedom to own firearms. 

All Canadians are free to voice their opinions, to expect privacy in their homes, to practice activities they enjoy so long as they don’t harm others. 

Which of your freedoms would you voluntarily give up for arguments of emotion and not evidence of a common good?

I get that you might not care about guns. You may even fear them. But the gun debate isn’t really about guns. 

It’s about government over-reach, reactionary legislation, and erosion of our rights and civil liberties. And that is something to be afraid of.


Kate MacQuarrie is the founder and president of Women Shooters of P.E.I.

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