1. Firearms and Firearm Owners in Canada

1.3 An Alarmist Agenda

Firearm prohibitionists imply that criminality is inherent in any citizen who owns, or desires to own, more than one gun. Such statements display a remarkable lack of knowledge concerning the recreational use of firearms in Canada, and assume that firearms are somehow qualitatively different from any other consumer purchase.

A rifle is an appropriate firearm for hunting certain types of game, ranging from rodents to moose. A rifle/cartridge combination suitable for rabbits or gophers will be ineffective against larger game species. As a result, it isn't unusual for hunters, who represent over 20% of the Canadian population, to have more than one rifle depending on which game animal they intend to pursue [10]. The ballistic and recoil characteristics of a particular rifle/cartridge combination that make them effective for hunting make them suitable for informal and competitive target shooting as well.

Bird hunting is done with shotguns, as is trap and skeet competition.

Handgun shooting is also a diverse activity. Pistols used in precision Olympic competitions aren't suitable for the fast-paced freestyle of International Practical Shooting events.

The technology and history of firearms also make them attractive and valuable collector's items.

Given the variety of recreational activities available to the legitimate firearm owner in Canada, it isn't surprising that over 60% of all firearm-owning households in this country have more than one gun [11]. Canadians who own firearms own them because they enjoy them, and the recreational activities they make possible.

"It seems reasonanly obvious that from the standpoint of 'public safety', the transition from no-guns to one-gun is considerably more 'alarming' than the transition from several to several +1 weapons." [12]

Wright, et al., Under the Gun

Prohibitionists try to generate apprehension in the non-gun owning public over the fact that the number of restricted weapons (primarily handguns) legally registered in Canada has increased, suggesting it is somehow correlated to criminal activity by the owners [13]. The reason behind this trend is considerably more benign.

As the country urbanizes, there is less space available for centerfire rifle and shotgun activities, which require more property in order to effectively attentuate noise and provide for the long ranges associated with their sporting activities: however, the noise and effective range of handguns is much lower [14]. Suitable pistol shooting facilities can be situated within buildings in an urban/suburban environment without disturbing abutting properties, and which permit target shooting to occur year round. Consequently, people who live in urban areas are more likely to take up handgun shooting than centerfire rifle and/or shotgun, simply because the facilities are more available and convinient.