Getting guns right, for what it’s worth


There is a natural law operating in Canadian media whereby the more knowledge you have of firearms, the more hilarious you find the press and TV reports that follow any prominent incident with guns. Sun News, for example, was quick to tell us after Tuesday night’s attack on the Parti Québécois victory party in Montreal that suspect Richard Henry Bain had been caught with “an automatic weapon.” Global News doubled down, arming Bain with a nonexistent “machine-gun.”

The Montreal Gazette thus deserves special credit for establishing the truth, and describing it in a fairly straightforward way: the weapon used by Bain was a Czech-made semiautomatic rifle, the CZ 858, specifically designed to be legal for sale and possession in Canada. It bears a superficial resemblance to the outlawed AK-47, making it popular with military hobbyists and wannabes who do tactical “sport” shooting at gun ranges. But, as the Gazette established, it is no different in principle from any semiautomatic hunting rifle. It conforms to Canadian law if it’s used with the required five-round magazine, and hundreds of Canadians own one.

Although online gun aficionadoes raised the possibility that Bain’s gun was a CZ 858 even as CBC and Radio-Canada still had their cameras rolling on the scene, the teevee news could be forgiven for mistaking the weapon for an AK-47. (General familiarity with small arms might actually make this error more likely, not less. Reporters with foreign experience are more likely to have seen an AK carried in the wild, and perhaps even fired in anger, than they are to have seen some nerd showing off a Czech simulacrum at a range in Prince Albert.) But it’s less easy to account for the statement made Wednesday by a Montreal police spokesman, who waved off questions about the gun by saying “It’s a prohibited or restricted weapon” and adding “A gun like that doesn’t go in the register.” The gun not only could go in the register; turns out it was in the register. Which is small comfort.


Getting guns right, for what it’s worth

  1. It was in the registery, and yet it was used in a killing. So the registry didn’t prevent someone from dying? But that’s what Alan Rock told us the registry was supposed to do.

    • No he didn’t.

      • What did he say?

        • A gun registry registers guns, same as a car registry registers cars. Neither prevent people from dying directly…..they monitor guns and cars and make them traceable.

      • Yes he did.

      • Yup he did..

        • Really? Alan Rock said that the gun registry would prevent all gun deaths forever and amen?

          Cite please, or you’re just talking out your ass.

    • Just because the registry failed to prevent *this* crime doesn’t mean that it fails to prevent *all* crimes. For a non-gun-related comparison, think of the levees in New Orleans—they functioned for decades, but failed during Hurricane Katrina. You wouldn’t say the levees were useless from the one failure, though you might wonder what additional actions might help prevent Katrina-like disasters in the future.

      (FWIW, I’m not arguing a specifically pro-registry point here, just noting that its utility cannot be judged on an isolated event, but must be judged in the aggregate.)

      • Can you come up with a single instance of where the gun registry did prevent a crime?

        • The problem is that we wouldn’t necessarily know. The mere fact that one had to register firearms would make one less likely to purchase them for use in crimes, resell them to dubious purchasers, etc. But more importantly, there was the knowledge that a gun used in a crime could be tracked back to you because it was registered. I am not a criminologist, so I cannot say what that effect is, but it is not zero (though, that non-zero effect might not have amounted to a single crime prevented).

          Honestly, I see gun registries as most useful on the backend, for solving crimes already committed. Of course, it’s a fairly rare case where long guns are used for anonymous crimes—they tend, instead, to be used for mass killings, where the killer is inevitably caught/killed/etc. at the end. A long gun registry might have been useful in apprehending the DC area sniper a few years back, but even then only if it were tied in with other things, such as micro-stamping serial numbers on fired bullets. That said, I might be forgetting about some major contingent of robberies or something that use long guns on a regular basis (are people still using sawed-off shotguns?).

          • Excerpts from 41st PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 079

            CONTENTS Monday, February 13, 2012


            Sergeant Murray Grismer of the Saskatoon police services testified in parliament:

            “…the registry for non-restricted rifles and shotguns…should be abolished. Thousands of police officers across Canada, who are in my opinion the silent or silenced majority, also share this position.

            …the Canadian Police Association…adopted their position without ever formally having polled their membership.

            The Saskatchewan federation is the only provincial police association that polled its entire membership on the issue of the registration of firearms. When polled, the Saskatoon Police Association was 99.46% against the registry, while our compatriots in many of the other Saskatchewan police forces were 100% in opposition to the registry.

            …the registry can do nothing to prevent criminals from obtaining or using firearms. École Polytechnique, Mayerthorpe, Spiritwood and Dawson College are synonymous with tragic events involving firearms. However, the firearms registry for long guns would not, could not, and did not stop these tragic events. The retention of the firearms registry or records will do nothing to prevent any further such occurrences. …even Canada’s strict licensing regime and firearms registry cannot prevent random acts of violence.

            For the officers using the registry, trusting in the inaccurate, unverified information contained therein, tragedy looms at the next door. … Knowing what I do about the registry, I cannot use any of the information contained in it to square with a search warrant. To do so would be a criminal act.

            Projections from within the Canadian Firearms Centre privately state that it will take 70 years of attrition to eliminate all of the errors in the registry and to have all of the firearms currently in Canada registered. This level of inaccuracy is unacceptable for any industry, let alone law enforcement.”


            Condemned by the the people that use it. And his condemnation of the Canadian Police Association for not polling their membership before speaking out. All intelligent arguments to the contrary, this one trumps them and should be considered the last word.

            Is any one else stunned that not one person in the entire Canadian media gave this any press?

            Bite that Windy Kookier.

          • On the other hand, Quebec has seen a significant drop in long gun-related homicides since the introduction of the registry:

            “Since the registry was set up, Quebec has seen a drop in the number of cases of fatal conjugal violence involving firearms. The overall number of homicides where a long-arm firearm was used has dropped 30 per cent.”


          • @facebook-531363036:disqus
            The US has had a 54% decline in long arm homicides 1995-2010, and a 19% decline 2000-2010. Is that because of Canada’s registry, too?

  2. Well said Colby. It is hilarious how the media AND THE POLICE will get it wrong almost every time.

    • In fact, the entire planet always gets it wrong except for you, right?

      • Nope.

        Lots of people know enough about firearms to identify them. It’s not some mystical magical skill that Nobody Could Ever Have.

        Grok’s comment is based on the regularity and hilarity of media and police spokesman mistakes about firearms.

  3. The Canadian pathological fear and hatred of firearms is almost comical if it weren’t so stupid and dangerous to our very freedoms.

    I sense another attack on gun owners coming down the pike …..

    What do all slaves have in common?
    The don’t own guns.

    Once in a while some loon will misuse a firearm, as in Quebec the other day, but how different is that from some drunk driver misusing his or her car. Always unfortunate, but that too is part of modern life.

    People like the idiot Alan Rock should not try to control a society with deeply flawed ideas …. we see how well that worked and how much is cost.

    • So bearing arms is a protection against tyranny
      and free men have the right to shoot who they deem might endanger freedom. You are right : this is now part of modern life.

    • What happened in Montreal wasn’t “misuse” it was murder. Intentional murder and indented to kill more people, were it not for a couple brave individuals. Misuse leads to accidents. This was no accident. He knew what he was doing and came well armed.

      It’s extremely different from a drunk driver “misusing” his car because no drunk gets behind the wheel saying “I”m going to kill someone today.” No, they say “Give me back my keys, I can do this.”

      He used his guns for exactly what they were intended to do and now an innocent and brave man is dead.

      • The vz.58 is intended to murder Quebec politicians?

        Those fiends in the Czech Republic!

        Oh, wait. You have the mistaken idea that a civilian rifle is “intended” to kill people (and that one “intended” for hunting or target shooting is somehow different in any meaningful way).

        • it is an object whose primary and almost solitary purpose is to do a great deal of harm to living things.

          • Yet oddly that almost never happens.

          • I’ve often wondered about the per minute per capita injury and death rates of guns vs, automobiles.

          • It’s primary purpose is to fire a lead projectile. You imply that every time somebody shoots a piece of paper on a tree the weapon has somehow “failed”.

          • not what i said at all and your reasoning is flawed not to mention stupid.
            I’m saying when that happens it is being used in a way so far from its actual purpose you may as well drive the car at the sheet of paper and say its fulfiling its purpose.

      • He used his guns for exactly what they were intended to do

        The Parti Quebecois is made up of deer?

    • Cool. If I have gun, I’m free. If I don’t, I’m not. Decades ago I gave away
      my Daddy’s WW2-era .303. My life has not been the same since.
      Now I know why. Thanks.

  4. Good article, but its hilarious watching the gun ban crowd trying to figure out a way to do a little more grave dancing over this incident. But great catch on all the goofs over that rifle.

  5. And as I’m sure Mr. Cosh knows, it ain’t worth very much. Reporters usually aren’t experts on anything except how to be a reporter – that’s not a dig, it’s true of most people’s professional lives. They tend to report lots of details inaccurately, the minutiae of the difference between firearms being a very understandable one of many. The difference between “it’s a mk. fadsfae with a 3423244 round clip and fdkjahdfe scope with altered fdcaskjdrhe handle” and another gun isn’t of much value to the story or the average reader, so I can see how exact fact-checking wouldn’t be a good use of time or money.

    • “Reporters usually aren’t experts on anything except how to be a reporter”

      You are exaggerating. They don’t know how to be reporters either.

  6. The gun registry serves the police in doing what the are paid to do: catch people. It does not , in practice or by it’s mere presence prevent or deter gun crime. The police do not protect you from crime, unless they are physically present at all times (and who wants that?). One has to protect oneself. A gun will do that.

    • I don’t really see the gun registry doing much in the way of helping catch bad guys. Yes, in a few corner cases, it may be helpful; but for the most part, it doesn’t seem to bring much to the table (especially given that a person must be licensed before he can legally buy a gun). I’m willing to be proven wrong, but AFAICT, the long gun registry was nothing more than a symbolic gesture in the wake of a tragic mass shooting.

      Where I live (Vancouver), gang related shootings are all too plentiful. If politicians want to do something useful, they should be bringing in laws to deal with that. Not an easy task, but that’s what we pay them for.

      FWIW: I’ve never touched a gun in my life.

      • I agree with you. I guess i should have worded that differently. They use it to catch people who may be in violation of gun laws (storage, registration, etc.). They can use it to prosecute people who failed to report a stolen gun. Certainly, those of us who registered (i know, i know i was part of the problem) would report any loss of a registered gun for fear of the consequences.
        There are already enough laws regarding gang violence and illegal gun use, we just don’t enforce them.

  7. You just know that if this guy had either this one gun or a bunch of guns not registered, there would be all sorts of cries from the left about how if the registery was still going and Harper hadn`t dismantled it, this incident may not have occured. Truth be told, I have never heard of anyone who has been able to point to 1 instance in which the registry has saved even 1 life.

  8. the more the anti-registry side talks the dumber it looks

  9. The lefty medias hysterical reaction is as predictable as it is partizan and transparent… self serving political vultures scavenging for some political gain in a horrific act of violence… “This year will go down in history! For the first time a civilized nation has full gun registration! Our streets will be safer, our police more efficient, and the world will follow our lead into the future.”- Adolf Hitler.

  10. As usual, the anti-gun crowd persist in trying to make the registry, or lack-thereof, seem relevant. Here is one of the most clear examples of it’s uselessness. A registered rifle… and a licensed owner… So how did the registry accomplish anything here… except to highlight the ineffectiveness of the registry?

    The anti-gun gang will only be satisfied when only the ‘benevolent’ government agents have guns.. and then they will wake up to the fact they live in a police state.

    Any government afraid of armed citizens is not to be trusted. ANY Government.

    The U.S. constitution’s 2nd amendment was written ‘specifically’ to empower the citizens to defend AGAINST a tyrannical government… not for self defense during a burglary. The Government should fear the citizens, not the other way around.

  11. It’s not like free thinking people have any respect for Canadian media anyway.