Gun culture

 

mardi 20 janvier 2015

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Gun culture

Historically, Canadians seemed far less attached than Americans to the right to bear arms. Canada had strong gun-control laws and the Canadian gun lobby seemed far less influential than the national Riffle Association in the US. The registration of handguns has been required since 1934 and military-style weapons like assault rifles and sawed-off shotguns are banned. Since 1977 buyers have been required to take safety courses, obtain a license and to pass a basic criminal record check.

However in 2009 the Conservative provoked a fierce debate by proposing to abolish the long-gun registry, created by the Liberal Party in 1995, in the wake of the December 6, 1989 massacre at Montreal's École Polytechnique, in which 14 women were singled out and killed by a gunman. According to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police long guns (rifles and shotguns) accounted for 6.7 million of Canada’s 7.4 million registered guns. Police forces were overwhelmingly in favour of retaining long-gun registry; they pointed out that they consulted the registry data 3.4 million times in 2008 and used it to seize guns from homes where serious domestic disputes have been reported or to seize illegal guns found in the possession of criminal suspects. On the other hand, rural Canadians and Native Canadians who hunt for food long opposed the mandatory register as a useless and intrusive burden. Critics cited the cost of the registry, nearly $1 billion to set up, as a reason to dismantle it and argued that gun license records were sufficient for the police to prevent crime. The mandatory long-gun registry was abandoned in Canada on April 6, 2012 by the coming into force of Bill C-19, which also mandated the destruction of the non-restricted records of the registry as soon as feasible. However, Quebec won the right to preserve its share of the data; the federal government is currently appealing that decision. After it came to power in 2013, the Parti Québécois announced it would move forward with a bill that will make long-gun registration mandatory in the province.

 

Further reading on the long gun registry :

Gun Control Issue Reveals a Changing Canada. By IAN AUSTEN. Published: December 6, 2009, New York Times

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/07/world/americas/07canada.html?_r=0

 

Francine Dulong, “Canada's Gun Laws Are Far From Bulletproof”, 10/12/2012, Huffington Post.

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/francine-dulong/canada-guns_b_1961428.html 

 

 

 

Despite this evolution, a recent incident showed that Canadians continued to view guns in a different light than Americans.

 

In August 2012, Walt Wawra, an American police officer from Michigan wrote to the Calgary Herald to complaint that he had not been allowed to carry his gun while visiting Calgary as a tourist. While walking in a park, he and his wife were approached by two young men who asked them whether they had ever been to the Calgary stampede (a famous local rodeo. Walt Wawra felt threatened and regretted that he had been deprived of his right to bear his gun and thus be able to defend himself. He wrote: “Would we not expect a uniformed officer to pull his or her weapon to intercede in a life-or-death encounter to protect self, or another? Why then should the expectation be lower for a citizen of Canada or a visitor?”

 

Read full version of Wawra's letter here : "American tourist who lamented lack of gun during encounter in Calgary park sparks online ridicule". 9 August 2012. National Post, http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/08/09/walt-wawra/

 

Wawra’s letter provoked a flood of posts and reactions ridiculing Americans and their lethal love of guns, especially after it turned out that the young men were in fact handing out free stampede tickets. In the end, it was the occasion for Canadians to proudly celebrate their difference with the Americans, as showed by this blog entry written by a Calgary mother:

 

“In between guffaws at all of the jokes being made at Mr. Wawra's expense, I started to feel a bit sorry for the guy. Not because people were mocking his formal language or behaviour, but because I can't imagine what it must be like to live in a world where I'm suspicious of every stranger, every casual encounter, every uninvited interaction... I appreciate the levity of #NoseHillGentlemen, if for no other reason that it reaffirms how sensible the majority of us are about guns and gun control... To me, it says that we assume people have good intentions until they show us otherwise. Just one more reason to be thankful that I'm raising my kids here, in the True North Strong & Free.”

 

Quoted in the Globe and Mail, “Gun-loving U.S. cop draws Twitter jeers after 'aggressive' encounter with Canadians”, Affan Chowdhry, Published Thursday, Aug. 09 2012

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/gun-loving-us-cop-draws-twitter-jeers-after-aggressive-encounter-with-canadians/article4471289/

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