The Commons: A gun-measuring contest in the House

On the eve of eliminating the long-gun registry, we seem to have started a debate about guns

by Aaron Wherry

The Scene. At last the House was united.

“Mr. Speaker,” declared Alice Wong, minister of state for seniors, reading carefully from the piece of paper in front of her, “I will take no lesson from the opposition.”

Both sides variously roared with agreement and soon thereafter the farce of this afternoon’s proceedings moved from thinly veiled to unabashed. Switch “I” for “we” and the government might have an answer for everything and we might be able to pronounce closure on this entire business of parliamentary democracy for at least the next four years. Think of all the time that would free up. Not to mention the money saved on electricity bills when we no longer have to bother pretending there’s a reason to keep the lights on in here.

The hour had actually begun on a stridently serious note, at least insofar as there is surely nothing more serious than the gun.

Interim opposition leader Nycole Turmel rose to express her concern that various firearms might be insufficiently tracked as a result of the government’s decision to do away with the long-gun registry. Specifically, Ms. Turmel was worried about the semi-automatic Ruger Mini-14 (apparently used in last summer’s massacre in Norway and the shooting at École Polytechnique), an “armor-piercing rifle” called the Steyr HS .50, a “long range rifle” called the L115A3 and an “assault rifle” known as the Tavor TAR-21.

“Mr. Speaker, let me quote the Conservatives’ Associate Minister of National Defence,” Ms. Turmel offered with her third intervention. ” ‘A very obvious concern to us in policing is that I want my police officers to know where there are firearms when they respond to calls, especially those that very often entail dangerous situations.’

“Does the Prime Minister agree,” she asked, “that the semi automatic weapons used in École Polytechnique are dangerous? Does he agree with his associate critic that it is an obvious concern for our police officers to know where these guns are when they respond to a dangerous situation?”

Mr. Harper kept to his script, delivered in as unthreatening and even a tone as possible. “Once again, Mr. Speaker, the system for the classification of firearms was established long ago,” he said. “The government follows the process. It is not changed in any way by this particular bill.”

Matters were then turned over to Jack Harris, who hammered his syllables for the purposes of pronouncing shame.

“Mr. Speaker, under this legislation, semi-automatics and armour-piercing sniper rifles, even those capable of dropping a target two kilometres away, will no longer need to be registered,” he declared. “The government likes to talk about hunters, but the last time I checked, hunters are not going after armoured targets a kilometre and a half away.”

Alas, Mr. Harris apparently remains blind to threat posed by tank dogs.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, who is never not either profoundly outraged or profoundly saddened, opted here for sadness. For not only was Mr. Harris apparently mistaken—as a result of a Toronto Star report at that!—but even if there was something amiss here, it was almost definitely the fault of some previous government.

“Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that member opposite is relying on a very misleading Toronto Star story for his research,” Mr. Toews lamented. “Claims that our government has changed the process for classification of firearms are simply not correct. In fact the current process was put in place by the former Liberal government, and that process continues.”

Nonetheless, on the eve of eliminating the long-gun registry, we seemed suddenly to have started a debate about guns. If it weren’t for bad timing, you might say, this place would have no sense of time at all.

Afterwards, Mr. Toews wandered out into the foyer to make an announcement about something else entirely at one of the free-standing microphones set up for such things. When the reporters present insisted on asking him questions about his plans for Omar Khadr, he attempted a getaway. A slow motion chase—more of a mob shuffle, really—ensued before Mr. Toews surrendered and made his way to another of the microphones. There he was asked about various things, including the possibility that the classification of some long guns might need revisiting.

This, he said, was “an issue for another day.” Which perhaps suggested there was actually something to discuss. Which would at least give this Parliament something to do with the next four years.

The Stats. The economy, seven questions. Firearms, six questions. Military procurement, government accounting and crime, three questions each. The disabled, seniors, the Canadian Wheat Board, Omar Khadr, the G8 Legacy Fund, the auditor general and rail service, two questions each. Aboriginal affairs, veterans and Saudi Arabia, one question each.

Stephen Harper, six answers. Kellie Leitch and Vic Toews, five answers each. Gary Goodyear, Rob Nicholson and Tony Clement, three answers each. Alice Wong, David Anderson, Steven Fletcher and Julian Fantino, two answers each. Shelly Glover, John Duncan, Steven Blaney and Diane Ablonczy, one answer each.

The Commons: A gun-measuring contest in the House

  1. It’s the projectile that is or isn’t armour piercing. A .308 calibre round can penetrate 1/4″ steel at 100 meters with ease yet it is still just a hunting rifle. The oposition and this “reporter” is making a mountain out of a molehill.

    • Ah yes, it’s neither guns nor people that kill people, or armour. It’s bullets that do this. Maybe then we should establish a national registry for those.

  2. “Armour piercing”, “Cop Killer Bullets”, “Assault Weapons”, “Saturday Night Specials” “Weapon of choice of drug dealers”- all great terms used by gun banners to play at the emotions of the public. All without any technical merit.

    Now we see the opposition adding “Sniper rifles” to the list. Curiously most long range rifles are based on rifles often used for big game hunting.

    The use of guns in violent crime in Canada is rare and decreasing. The use of legally owned firearms much rarer still. The number of guns in private hands has never been higher. Why all the anguish about reducing administrative gun laws that serve no cost effective crime fighting purpose?

    This debate,as always, is really about control and culture. The gun banners think that if legally owned and used guns can be removed we will finally get to the Nirvana their social plans will ensure. If only the plebes can be disarmed Canada can be the country the esteemed members of the faculty lounge can be proud of. In the mean time they’ll pretend that they think “hunting” is OK.

    • There’s no technical merit in the term Armour piercing?

      Really?

      • It’s not relevant as most bullets will pierce light body armour. It’s a moot point.

        The power required to kill a large animal will certainly pass through quite a bit of steel.

        The issue is not the weapon, it’s the person allowed to wield it. Let’s focus on mental health issues and keeping violent unreformable individuals out of society. I am far more afraid of a mentally unstable individual with a quart of gasoline and a light. Or a brick for that matter.

  3. Aaron’s main point that Steve and the boys are operating like the despotic rulers of some obscure land.  They give lip service to democracy but will never allow logic to get in the way of their obsessions.  “Claims that our government has changed the process for classification of firearms are simply not correct.” — which ignores the fact that with the registry we’d know who had these assault weapons — without it we won”t.

    • No logic in what you just said. “Assault weapons” are fully automatic military only firearms which are not allowed to be owned in Canada. None of the firearms mentioned are “assault weapons”.

      If you don’t understand the terms used and what the firearms are designed for, how can you debate related public policy?

  4. So tell me, exactly where can you legally purchase armour piercing rounds for any gun in Canada? All of those firearms are also capable of firing non armour piercing rounds.
    As noted by bob “A .308 caliber round can penetrate 1/4″ steel at 100 meters”, tell me what protection worn by police officers will stop a .308? All of these guns existed before the long gun registry came into existence. We have had the registry for a while now… where is the empirical data study to SHOW the registry has reduced incidences of these weapons being used in an illegal manner??? SHOW ME!
    It may make for great headlines but this argument is simply stupid.
    How much so far 8 billion and counting????

    • You know there will be sweet silence to your query because there is no such data. The fools don’t understand that we should be tracking and registering (and incarcerating if necessary) dangerous people!  Scary people can find a 1,000 ways to maim and kill.

  5. Okay….has anyone heard of a murder commited at a range of 100 yards or more?  Anyone?

    Anywhere?  Ever?

    So the gab about sniper rifles is an attempt install an expensive and repressive solution on a non-existent problem

    Typical of gun control freaks.

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