The litmus test for one’s belief in freedom is if you support someone else’s right to do something you do not support yourself.
Maybe it is protecting someone’s freedom of speech even though you find their words offensive, or maybe you defend a woman’s right to choose even though you believe all life is sacred.
The debate over civilian firearms ownership falls into a similar category.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau prohibited hundreds of thousands of legally-owned firearms; what he called “military grade assault weapons, designed for one purpose and one purpose only; to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time.”
Sounds good if you say it fast enough, except that it is not true.
Is the Jeep or Hummer in your neighbour’s driveway a “military-grade assault vehicle” because of its predecessors on the battlefield?
Of course not, no more than the ball-point pen on your desk is an “astronaut-grade anti-gravity writing utensil,” or the pair of Huggies adorning your toddler’s derriere is a “space diaper,” despite their lunar mission origins.
In fact, many of the newly-prohibited guns were specifically manufactured to comply with Canadian legislation, so if anything, they were literally designed for Canadian sport shooting and hunting.
For people whose understanding of firearms is based in fact as opposed to rhetoric, the ban is also puzzling for not only what is included, but what is not.
A number of single shot big-game hunting rifles are listed, and legal opinions even suggest the ban’s language technically prohibits common duck hunting shotguns, yet some guns that are functionally identical to the so-called “assault weapons” are not.
And while the Liberals’ ban is predicated on the notion that certain firearms are not suitable for hunting, it includes an amnesty period for Indigenous peoples to continue to be able to use them – for hunting.
The Liberals know this will be divisive; in fact, they are counting on it.
As a minority government, they have enacted this ban through an Order in Council, bypassing democratic process and parliamentary debate, in the midst of a global pandemic’s massive economic and social upheaval, where Canadians are otherwise preoccupied with providing for their families and concerned over unprecedented infringements on our civil liberties.
Can you imagine the outcry if a government were to pass new regulations under the same circumstances on another controversial topic, say reproductive rights?
The Liberals have intentionally poked the proverbial hornets’ nest purely for political gain, hoping to vilify anyone who opposes them and further divide Canadians.
Fortunately, even those who do not like guns see this for what it is; a shameless and transparent attempt to distract from the Liberals’ multiple failures and try to appear they are doing “something,” while having absolutely no effect on the criminal use of firearms.
But for those gun owners who said “nobody needs an assault weapon” and now find themselves paraphrasing Charlton Heston over the likelihood of willfully surrendering their beloved hunting gun, remember – you voted for this.
Will you make the same mistake again?
Jonas J. Smith