The Politics of Panic

Abstract

The registration of firearms is only one of many issues which comprise the "gun control" debate. It generates intensely passionate arguments.

Firearm prohibitionists in Canada insist that all firearms and their owners must be registered in much the same way as dogs and automobiles. They believe that this will allow the authorities to know who owns firearms, how many each owner possesses, and to regulate firearms and firearm owners much more than they are alleged to be at present.

Firearm owners insist that registration in useless at preventing suicides, accidents, or crimes of violence involving firearms. They maintain that the real purpose of registration is to eventually allow the government to seize their guns when it is in the government's best interest to do so.

Firearm prohibitionists maintain that this perception is nothing more than unjustified paranoia. Firearms controls, including registration, are necessary to secure "public safety". Firearms owners must be prepared to endure a "little inconvenience" if this goal is to be achieved.

This paper will argue that the concerns expressed by Canada's seven million firearm owners with respect to gun controls in general and registration in particular, are completely valid. It will be shown that firearms registration is considered to be valueless at preventing crimes, suicides, or accidents.

Historical evidence will be presented showing that registration of firearms and firearm owners has been the prelude to the eventual prohibition of civilian firearm ownership, often with tragic consequences.

It will be shown that "gun control" has been, at various times, a response to perceived internal threats to the authority and stability of the Canadian government. Firearm control in this country has, historically, been used not to reduce crime but to: increase the citizen's dependence on the state for protection; prepare the way for repressive action by government; reduce popular pressure for reforms which could reduce crime; and, permit selective enforcement against racial/ethnic minorities and dissident political groups.