One of the most frustrating aspects of fighting the anti-gun crowd is trying to keep a consistent message between the various hunting and shooting participants and the groups that they belong to.
Unfortunately not all gun owners are willing to support the complete package. It seems obvious that you can’t protect your rights to own and use traditional style hunting rifles (whatever the hell that is) to the exclusion of handguns and black rifles when it comes time to argue against gun bans and the punitive gun laws that the anti-gunners keep trying to impose on us. The old adage of hanging together or hanging separately is never truer than when it is applied to firearm ownership.
But I have seen many rifle owners who have no interest in taking up the handgun cause and others who are strongly opposed to fighting against attacks on the ownership of ‘black rifles’ (or what the media likes to call ‘assault rifles’).
You would think, particularly in Canada, where we are already suffering under a badly written Firearms Act – one that was deliberately written to make firearm ownership difficult – that gun owners would rise to the challenge and present a united front. But that has not necessarily been the case.
Why do we not get that across-the-board support on the gun control issue? I think that there are a number of reasons, the first simply being self interest.
Everyone wants to protect their own area of interest and gun owners who are hunters, ranchers or farmers, who normally use what is considered to be a traditional hunting rifle or shotgun, believe that they will have a much easier time defending their legitimate ownership without being lumped in with the less politically correct firearms such as handguns and modern military style guns.
But often the lack of support goes deeper than that. I have no idea how prevalent the attitude actually is but I have run across gun owners who don’t understand why anyone would want or feel the need to own a handgun. And although I don’t recall any of those advocating the banning of handguns they certainly didn’t have any desire to stand up and be counted on that particular issue.
Although the attitude from some gun owners towards handguns might be ambivalence, some of the comments I have heard regarding black rifles have been downright hostile. How deep the antipathy goes I have no way of knowing, but there certainly is a held view that black rifles damage the credibility of gun owners in Canada.
Now I think that I can understand the problem with handguns. We have had to register handguns since the 1930s. We can’t hunt with them, we are discouraged from using them for self protection (actually we are discouraged from using anything for self protection) and we are required to have a transport permit simply to take a handgun from our home to an approved range in order to use it. We have been so restricted in their use for so long in Canada that I believe many have come to believe that it is a completely acceptable state of affairs to only be allowed to own handguns at the benevolence of our government.
On the other hand, with black rifles I think the problem is that many have bought into the demonization of this class of firearm as fed to us by the media, our federal bureaucrats and our politicians, to say nothing of the professional anti-gunners. We are used to seeing every semi-auto in the media called an AK-47, defined as a terrorist gun, and referred to in terms that make the general public think they are inherently evil.
But I am surprised when gun owners buy into that mindset. They have allowed themselves to accept the idea that a gun is defined by how it looks, not by what it does. Thus a semi auto Colt AR15 is ‘evil’ while a semi-auto Browning BAR is worth fighting for.
South of the border the attitude is different. Most of the States allow hunting with a handgun, personal self-defence is not considered a “bad thing” with the handgun being the tool of choice and with most States having laws that allow for concealed carry.
As well, in the US black rifles are becoming more and more popular for target shooting, hunting and as just a fun gun to shoot. There is a large and vocal contingent of aficionados who can become extremely testy if anyone tries to impact their sport in a negative manner, as witness the destruction of Jim Zumbo’s career when he made the fatal error of saying in his blog that he didn’t think black rifles were appropriate for hunting and referred to them as “terrorist guns”.
In the US, with their strong belief in their 2nd Amendment they zealously defend their rights to own and use all firearms.
If Canadian firearm owners had that single mindedness of purpose the odds are that we wouldn’t be living with our current mishmash of punitive and irrational firearm laws and regulations.