6. Concluding Remarks

6.0 Conclusion

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

George Santayana, The Life of Reason, 1905.

To believe that registration of firerms and firearm owners will not lead to eventual confiscation is to ignore historical reality. Registration has traditionally been used by government as a means to disarm dissident political and racial/ethnic groups, often resulting in the slaughter of unarmed civilians.

We are not immune to the political and economic stresses which precipitate these events. Firearm legislation in Canada has typically occured during periods of political and social upheaval which threaten a comfortable status quo.

The present political situation in Canada is no exception.

The official opposition is dedicated to pursuing political autonomy for its own province. In reality, this is a direct result of the federal government's mismanagement of a perceived crisis 24 years ago.

The Canadian government is burdened with a national debt estimated at between $500 billion to $1.75 trillion which it accumulated through decades of unrestricted spending. Canada is now considered to be one of the world's most indebted nations (Margolis, 94-08-18, p.11).

Social programs will have to be sacrificed at the alter of fiscal responsibility. The social safety net Canadians hoped would be there to protect them from the perils of the Great Depression is slowly disintegrating.

The Liberal government of Prime Minister Chretien maintains that more firearm controls are needed; however, the domestic situation appears little different from the conditions which created previous gun control amendments throughout Canada's past. Gun control for the present government offers the public a convenient distraction from other far more serious political and economic issues.

At one time or another, evern form of firearm legislation has been attempted in this country. This simple fact has been lost or ignored by government technocrats, firearm prohibitionists, and the media. Many of the current firearm control initiatives proposed by groups such as the Coalition for Gun Control were tried in Canada over 80 years ago.

For example, the amendments to the Canadian Criminal Code introduced in 1920 required owner registration and a permit system limited to geographic areas and similar to the two tiered rural/urban concept often proposed by prohibitionists.

Both were ultimately abandoned.

In 1934, registration of handguns was introduced. Sixty years later, the criminal use of handguns continues unabated with registration having had no impact on the use of this categorty of firearm in violent crime.

In 1940, a government Order In Council ordered the registration of all rifles and shotguns. It was discontinued and the records destroyed; testimony to the fact that it was not considered a beneficial program.

Whether necessitated by alleged anarchists, communists, seperatists, Mohawk Warriors, or assault weapons, firearm legislation has been used many times by the Canadian government for the express purpose of denying firearms to the public and diverting attention from the social and political conditions that initiated an alleged state of emergency.

Rather than confront the dynamics of social change that have taken place in Canada, government has traditionally responded by creating an atmosphere of crisis which it then used to justify increasingly restrictive firearm controls.

The tacit message of such reactionary responses is that the government has no intention of addressing legitimate social and economic issuesss in an expeditious manner. The public must be disarmed "...for their own good."

in 1892, the 'gun controls' in Canada's first Criminal Code were five pages in length. Bill C-17, and its attendant Orders-in-Council, fill over 200. Wade (1994, p.xiv) indicates that police officers and firearm registrars in Canada characterize the existing firearm laws as "a nearly impenetrable maze".

More 'gun control' is not the answer to firearm-related crime, accidents, and suicides.

It is time to reevaluate the direction of firearm control policy in Canada. If history if any indication, Canadians are being slowly and inexorably guided towards a future characterized by a state monopoly on the use of force and the prohibition of all civilian firearm ownership.

If international experience has taught us anything at all, what happens after that may not be particularly pleasant.