Gun Control Essay Research Paper There has

Gun Control Essay, Research Paper

There has been considerable debate recently in Canada over the issue of gun

control. The Canadian parliament enacted the Firearms Act to enforce gun control

by requiring gun owners to register their firearms. Just recently, the

government of Alberta lead in a charge, including five other provinces and

numerous pro-gun groups, complaining that the law is unconstitutional and

intrudes on provincial jurisdiction. They also claim that the act infringes on

property and civil rights that are guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of Rights

and Freedoms. Parliament contends that the government of Canada is within its

rights to protect public safety. Pro-gun control organizations, police chiefs

and the City of Toronto also back the Firearms Act. The enacting of the Firearms

Act by the government of Canada is legitimately constitutional and is within the

jurisdiction of Parliament as it only seeks to protect the well being of

Canadians. Furthermore, this legislation does not intrude on provincial

jurisdiction because it is a representation of all Canadian?s rights. The

Canadian law that requires the licensing and registration of handguns has been

around since the 1930?s. The new statute, enacted in 1995 is currently under

heated debate, the act extends the licensing and registration requirements to

shotguns and rifles. Wendy Cukier, president of the Coalition for Gun Control

says, ?More Canadians are killed with rifles and shotguns every year than with

handguns?. The ultimate purpose of the Act according to the government is to

reduce firearm offences and violent crimes including murder. Moreover, Cukier

believes the real issue is saving lives, as licensing and registration help make

gun owners more accountable. She also points out a list of kids killed with

firearms- a boy shot at a birthday party, a Grade 3 student shot as his twin

played with a rifle. Gun control advocates may also highlight some other

incidents involving firearms including the 1989 massacre at Montreal?s Ecole

Polytechnique that claimed the lives of fourteen women and the recent school

shooting that killed a fifteen-year old student. Ironically, the shooting

occurred at a Taber, Alberta high school, the same province that is leading a

fight to strike down the Firearms Act as unconstitutional. On February 21 and 22

of this year, the Supreme Court of Canada was asked to rule whether the toughest

gun control laws ever passed in Canada was unconstitutional. The previously

mentioned incidents involving firearms were used to boost the case for gun

control advocates, including police chiefs, health and victims? groups and the

City of Toronto. Lawyers for the provinces involved and several pro-gun

organizations claimed that ?federal legislation does nothing to make Canadians

safer?. Furthermore, they denounced the law as ?an intrusion on provincial

jurisdiction?. On the other hand, Graham Garton, lawyer for the federal

government, told the hearing that anti-gun control talk ?makes for good

provincial politics?. He says, ?I think it?s clear that Alberta and the

challengers have come forward with a political argument dressed up as a legal

argument and the clothes just don?t fit.? Roderick McLennan, lawyer for the

Alberta government, countered that statement saying, ?I don?t think we?re

putting forward a political argument at all.? The provinces against the

legislation argue that the 1995 statute invades provincial jurisdiction over

property and civil rights. The government of Alberta claims that: "Only

Canada, the Women’s Shelters and the Coalition (for gun control) argue that the

Firearms Act and related provisions under the Criminal Code are, in their

entirety, within the constitutional power of Parliament. All of the other

interveners, with the exception of Ontario, support Alberta’s position that the

licensing and registration provisions infringe on the province’s jurisdiction in

relation to "property and civil rights" [under s.92 (13) of the

Constitution Act, 1867] to the extent that they relate to "ordinary

firearms". They argue that the impugned licensing and regulation provisions

are, in their essence, about regulation of property "simpliciter" and

not about public safety or crime prevention. The government counters that it can

use its criminal law powers to try to protect the safety of Canadians. The

comparison between firearms and motor vehicles can further illustrate this

point. Like firearms, motor vehicles are registered and licensed to owners to

protect the private property of the owners and others. Moreover, owning and

using a firearm is a privilege, as is driving a motor vehicle. If the owner can

prove his or her car is registered and he or she is licensed, the individual has

nothing to hide since it can be proven that the vehicle is not stolen or was

ever used to commit a crime. However, Bruce Hutton, president of the

15,000-member Law Abiding Unregistered Firearms Association says, ?The

government is saying to me, in essence, you have the potential to be a criminal,

therefore you have to register your gun. I resent that.? He goes on to say,

?There?s no question that registration is the first step towards

confiscation? and ?registration means a huge, expensive bureaucracy and does

not improve public safety because it won?t stop criminals from getting

guns.? On the other hand, to gun control advocates, Hutton seems to be seeking

only his self -interests and not the interests of the entire population. Even

the name of the organization Hutton belongs to seems to contradict itself. If

the members of this organization were actually law-abiding, then they would have

their firearms registered and thus, would earn the right to be called the

"Law Abiding Registered Firearms Association.? Registering and licensing

a firearm does not automatically incriminate a person, but merely protects the

owner from being accused of a firearm offence and protects registered owners if

the gun is stolen. The government of Alberta argued that, ?Firearms have a

different value, meaning and role based on your way of life, where you live in

Canada and whether you come from a rural or urban setting.? They go on to say,

?Someone living in rural Alberta or a remote village in the Northwest

Territories will generally have far different experiences with firearms than

residents of Metro Toronto or Montreal.? The Province adds, ?These

differences should be respected.? These attitudes opposing the Firearms Act

seem to be blinded by the fact that the real issue of the Statute is saving

lives and not preserving a gun culture of a particular region regardless of any

traditional way of life. Furthermore, firearms have the potential to kill;

therefore, they should be considered as special property whereby registry will

be part of the law. The gun control debate is undoubtedly a controversial issue.

On one side, gun control advocates, victim?s groups, police chiefs, and the

City of Toronto believe that the regulation and licensing of firearms is

necessary in order to maintain a peaceful society. The other side, however,

including several provinces lead by Alberta, believe that the Firearms Act is

unconstitutional because the registration and licensing provisions infringe on

their property and civil rights. Those who are pro-gun further believe that

their culture traditionally used firearms and that the government should not

interfere with their ?way of life?. Honourable Chief Justice Fraser of the

Alberta Court of Appeal explains the paradox of this debate and why it is so

controversial: ?Guns preserve lives; guns employ people; guns are used for

legitimate recreational pursuits; and guns are the tools of some trades. At the

same time, guns intimidate; guns maim; and guns kill. It is precisely because of

this paradox that guns are used for good as well as evil- that controversy

surrounds government efforts at gun control.? It is clear that the new

firearms legislation is looking out only for the best interests of the citizens

of Canada. Public safety and well-being undoubtedly takes precedence to a

traditional gun culture. The argument by pro-gun advocates that licensing and

registering firearms will turn them into criminals is invalid since guns have

the potential to seriously injure and kill people and thus, should be treated

with caution and special care. The Firearms Act enacted by the government of

Canada should be considered as a positive notion and not as a law that invades

on property and civil rights. The reason why Canada is a safe country is all due

to our strict gun control laws. Moreover, if this statute was struck down as

unconstitutional, there is no doubt in my mind that Canada would head towards a

gun culture society that would inevitably lead to more violent crime and murders

involving firearms.


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