Archive for October, 2006

Ipsos Reid’s new and flawed gun poll

October 25, 2006

On October 21st, 2006, Ipsos Reid released a new poll claiming “that in the wake of the Dawson College shootings, 81% in Quebec feel that semiautomatic weapons should be banned Vs 68% of Canadians living outside Quebec.

But the question that was asked said:

A semi-automatic firearm is capable of loading and firing continuously, so only a trigger pull is required to fire each round. It is a restricted weapon in Canada, meaning it can be obtained only for target practice, as part of a historical collection, and in very rare cases for a job or self protection.

Should semi-automatic firearms be banned in Canada?

 Wrong! The description makes it sound more like a full auto rather than a semi. And a firearm is not restricted simply because it is a semi-auto. There are more semi-auto shotguns and rifles out there that are unrestricted than are designated as restricted under Canada’s firearm laws. And they aren’t used just for target shooting or collections, they are used on a regular basis for hunting.

So where does that leave the Ipsos Reid poll? I would think that it is completely discredited and that Ipsos Reid’s credibility has been considerably diminished.

In all fairness to Ipsos Reid they say that they did not develop the wording of the questions. That was done by the Montreal Gazette who also did the polling in Quebec. Ipsos Reid then did the polling in the rest of Canada using the questions as given to them by the Gazette. However they had no problem with issuing the results under their name and logo.

I’m not even sure if this was even a deliberate attempt to bias the results of a poll. I suspect that it is more like total ignorance of the subject that you are polling on. 

Regardless, it only confirms my belief that you can’t really believe the results of a poll until you have seen the questions.

 

Demonizing gun owners

October 25, 2006

The Montreal Gazette has been running a series on the Dawson College shooting and gun control. There was never any doubt that gun owners and gun ownership would take a hit and this article, in the October 24th issue and the 4th of a 5 day series,  only confirms that concern.

The article starts out reasonably, describing the people who are attending a shooting competition at a shooting range in Granby, Quebec. All average, respectable people who are serious handgun shooters and competitors. Then as the writer gets to the guts of his article, he makes this statement:

Whatever their place in regular society, the shooters share one passion: guns. They like the way they look and sound and function and they admire their weapons’ power and precision. They think of shooting as a discipline, an exercise in self-control. And they feel part of a misunderstood fraternity.

Proponents of responsible gun ownership, the shooters say they deplore the way Hollywood and TV glamorize criminals who shoot guns. But they also embody a paradox.

Though professing a message of vigilance and safety, they collect gun paraphernalia, troll the Internet looking for gun websites and wear T-shirts logo’d with the provocative names of gun manufacturers and organizations. One of them is called Canadian GunNutz, and its emblem is a beaver holding an assault rifle. 

 Now the comments and the language become leading. Somehow buying things that have to do with shooting detracts from the “vigilance and safety” of the sport. And wearing a shirt with the name of “Ruger” or “Smith and Wesson” on it is deemed to be “provocative”. The writer is specifically drawn to comment on a Canadian GunNutz shirt with its’ logo of a beaver carrying a rifle, obviously finding an armed beaver to be of particular concern.

When the writer describes the actual shooting competition he describes one set of targets as being “about the size of a human torso” and another as “the rough size of a child”. The intent seems to be that if you can’t find anything negative to write, then invent something.

After describing the actual compeition the writer notes that it is “not meant to be like real life” then writes:

But to an outsider, the match does seem to mimic something all too real: the modus operandi of a madman on a murder spree.

After all, weren’t gunmen like Kimveer Gill just as brazen and agile as these shooters aim to be in competition? Didn’t Gill fire his semi-automatics while out in the open and on the move? And didn’t he aim to hit his targets?

Ah, there’s the proof of the pudding. All of these average law-abiding people, these licensed legitimate firearm owners are really in training for the day when they can go forth and destroy.

He then tops it all off with his final question to one of the volunteers, asking him “what he would do if the police ever pulled him over for speeding while he had guns in the car”.

I guess that if you look hard enough and long enough you can twist anything to support your agenda. 

Lister Sinclair Passes

October 18, 2006

I can’t remember exactly when I first heard Lister Sinclair on CBC Radio, but it was a longer ago than I like to contemplate. 

There were a number of voices back then that made CBC Radio a special place. Max Ferguson and Alan Maitland are two that come immediately to mind. But Sinclair was special; articulate, intelligent and humorous, he could stimulate your interest regardless of the subject matter.

Not only did he have a marvelous radio voice he was, IMHO, the most intelligent and thoughtful broadcaster to grace Canadian airways.

There are some lights that shine more brightly than others and Lister Sinclair was one of those. His passing on October 16th, 2006 at the age of 85 marks the end of an era.

Globe and Mail obituary.

RCMP Problems

October 17, 2006

What in hell is happening to our proud and historic national police force? Lately it seems to be hit by one scandal after another.

An article in the Vancouver Sun refers to 81 cases of misconduct in British Columbia alone being investigated by the RCMP’s internal affairs department.

The Globe & Mail also notes some specific cases.

Of course the biggest media coverage has been over the information given to U.S. agencies that resulted in Maher Arar being deported to Syria where he was tortured and imprisoned for nearly a year. The National Post reports that the RCMP investigator who told U.S. authorities that Maher Arar was suspected of al-Qaida links was promoted and “and continues to perform sensitive police work for the force”.

Then on October 29th, 2005 there was the case of the young man shot and killed by an RCMP officer in the Terrace BC jail, apparently after an altercation. Although an internal investigation has taken place and the RCMP has announced that the officer will not be charged, the family has yet to receive any answers to their questions.

RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli has not exactly covered the force with glory either. An October 10th, 2006 article in McLeans Magazine began:

 For a man who’s staked his identity to being the quintessential cop, Giuliano Zaccardelli sounds an awful lot like a politician. After solemnly apologizing last week for the Mounties’ role in the sorry case of Maher Arar, the RCMP commissioner demonstrated the kind of rhetorical double-jointedness that would strike envy in a scandal-ridden minister. “I accept the recommendations of the report without exception,” he told members of a Commons public safety committee, referring to a public inquiry led by Justice Dennis O’Connor. And then, having scarcely drawn another breath, he began quibbling with the conclusions he claimed to welcome.

It was a head-spinning performance, made poignant by the knowledge Zaccardelli was fighting for his professional life.

 

Possibly things are no better or worse within the RCMP than they were 20 years ago. Several sources have pointed out that the 81 misconduct cases in B.C. is very small compared to the 5000 officers working in the province. It may be that with today’s communications every detail comes under the spotlight where in years past they would never have been reported to the general public.

Regardless, the RCMP’s reputation has certainly been tarnished in recent years and unfortunately they seem to react to their problems by stonewalling any outside enquiries.

Not the way to build public trust.

Addendum: In the Vancouver Sun article (above) a spokesman for the RCMP’s internal affairs said that none of the officers in the 81 cases had been fired.

However the Force was not as generous with Cpl. Robert Read of the RCMP who was suspended with pay in 1999 when he went public with allegations that Canada’s mission in Hong Kong was selling phoney visas to the highest bidders.

Read had reported his evidence to his superiors, who Read said did nothing. Read was subsequently terminated from the Force for what was termed by an RCMP spokesman as “disgraceful behaviour”.

In 2003 the RCMP Adjudication Board stated that Read was justified in his actions and recommended that he be reinstated to his position. The RCMP refused to do this.

Which just goes to show that when you are part of a bureaucracy the most serious crime that you can commit is one that might embarrass your superiors.

Federal firearms amnesty problems

October 15, 2006

When the federal government announced its’ amnesty for unregistered firearms many owners thought that they had been given a free pass. Although the wording of the amnesty was specific, some hearing the word “amnesty”, thought it applied to licensing as well as registration and in some cases did not renew their PALs and POLs. A mistake, particularly for those who let their POLs lapse and then discovered that if they now wished to renew they would have to upgrade to a PAL and take the course and write (or challenge) the exam.

But the amnesty is only to protect owners of unregistered non-restricted firearms from criminal prosecution. And in fact it is even narrower than that. You are only protected under the amnesty if you are currently holding a valid POL or PAL or if you have held one that expired after January 1st, 2004.

Recently another aspect of the amnesty came to light. It turns out that although you may be protected from prosecution, you are not protected from having your firearms seized if you are holding them illegally – ie: unregistered. This was brought home by a notice to police agencies from the Canadian Firearms Centre that clearly identified that the police have the ability to seize any unregistered firearms even if the owners have the prerequisite possession licenses.

Now an article on the website Opinion250  shows that at least  some RCMP detachments are following this directive to the letter in confiscating firearms from hunters even though the CFC directive did suggest that police use some discretion in this area.

Many firearms owners thought that the amnesty was a positive step and simply a forerunner to the complete cancellation of the long-gun registry. But this is dependent on the minority Conservative government getting legislation passed to do so, or alternatively gaining a majority government in an anticipated spring election.

As it sits now it appears that the amnesty that was supposed to be friendly towards firearm owners has had unintended  consequences.

At least I hope that they were unintended. Although we have a new government that is supposed to be sympathetic towards legitimate firearms owners we still have the old anti-firearms bureaucracy in place.

That becomes more apparent as we go along.

More Liberal misinformation

October 5, 2006

On the federal Liberal’s website there is a news release that is one of the most disingenuous pieces of writing that I have seen in some time.

It is entitled “Liberals slam Harper on gun control” and then proceeds to makes statements that only a Liberal spin doctor could justify.

The article of course refers to the murder at Dawson College in Montreal as well as Prime Minister Harper’s statements that his government intends to proceed with the legislation to get rid of the long gun registry.

To take a look at a few of the statements in on the Liberal webpage:

Since the registry was introduced five years ago, almost 7 million firearms have been registered and death rates for all types of gun deaths – homicide, suicide and accidents – have declined.

To begin with, why would you expect gun related deaths to decrease because legitimate firearm owners have registered their firearms? They were owned by those individuals before they went on to a government inventory list and nothing has changed by doing so.

Having said that here are the facts and figures.

Homicides using firearms reduced from 184 in 2000 to 161 in 2003 but then increased back up to 172 in 2004. Overall homicides were at their lowest in 2000 at 546 and had increased to 622 in 2004. (Source: Statistics Canada)

When anyone speaks of “gun deaths” they are talking about the total of suicide, homicide and accidental deaths. From 1979 to 2002 suicide made up 80% of those deaths attributed to firearms. For instance in 2001 there were 3688 deaths by suicide of which 651 were firearm related. In 2003 there were 3764 suicides of which 618 were firearms related. (Source: Statistics Canada)

Although firearm related suicides between 2000 and 2003 fell by 49 cases, overall suicides in Canada increased by  159 cases. Which would seem to indicate that if an individual wants to commit suicide they will do so with or without firearms. So where is the benefit to society? Does the fact that an individual chooses to commit suicide with a firearms make it worse than if the choice is hanging?

Police officers affirm that the gun registry is a crucial tool to prevent gun violence in Canada. It is used 5,000 times a day by law enforcement officers to assist in their investigations of firearms crimes.

This is a “fact” that the federal Liberals and their cohorts have been throwing out for years. Then when someone finally checked it out it was found to be a fallacy. In actual fact, most of those “hits” are automatic when a police officer accesses the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC).

Deputy House Leader and Montreal MP Marlene Jennings suggested the true reasons behind the Conservatives’ move to dismantle the gun registry lie with their close connections to the National Rifle Association and its Canadian affiliates.

 

It gets sillier by the paragraph. The Conservative party has “close connections to the National Rifle Association”? Hardly. Almost as silly is implying that the NRA has Canadian affiliates. There are organizations in Canada that support the rights of firearm owners but none that I know of are ‘affiliated’ with the NRA. They probably all admire the NRA for their political strength in the US, but affiliation? No.

 

“Since the beginning, the gun lobby has been a fundamental pillar or Reform, Alliance and now non-progressive Conservative politics,” she said.

 

If there is a ‘gun lobby’ in Canada it has supported those parties because they believed that from they truly understood how bad the federal firearms legislation was. Certainly the individual hunter or recreational shooter was turned away from the Liberal party by their blatant attempt to demonize all firearm owners.

 

“Documents just released by Elections Canada reveal that the gun lobby spent over $133,000 in the last election alone to support the Conservatives’ campaign to weaken gun control.”

 

$133,000? Pretty small potatoes compared to the $1 billion plus that the Liberals spent jamming it down our throats.

 

Mr. Graham pointed out that Mr. Harper registry is too blinded by special interests to recognize that the gun registry help to keep Canadians safe.“In Canada we register our cars, our property, even our dogs –yet the Prime Minister’s objection to registering guns centres on costs,” he said. 

 

Ah, the old saw – “we register our cars”, expanded to include property and dogs. Well you don’t have to register your car unless you want to drive it on a public road. And you aren’t required by law to store it safely under threat of criminal charges as well as confiscation of the car and loss of your driver’s license. Property and dogs are even a stupider argument.

 

But that is the type of commentary that we have come to expect from the late unlamented governing party. Pity.


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