Posts Tagged ‘US Constitution’

“Denormalizing” Firearm Ownership

July 8, 2010

Glen Reynolds, a Professor of Law at the University of Tennessee and the person behind the Instapundit blog, has an interesting article over at Pajamas Media on the 2nd Amendment in the U.S. constitution and the Supreme Court’s Heller decision on Washington DC’s gun ban and the more recent McDonald decision which relates to the city of Chicago’s gun ban.

Read at your leisure, but I was interested in his comments near the end of the article. (Thanks to Michael Bane for the pointer).

Nonetheless, the Supreme Court’s Second Amendment decisions have made a major difference. In particular, they have offset the gun-control community’s longstanding effort to “denormalize” firearms ownership — to portray it as something threatening, deviant, and vaguely perverse, and hence demanding strict regulation, if not outright prohibition. That effort went on for decades, and received much media support. Two decades ago, it seemed to be working.

But with the Supreme Court saying that it’s clear the Framers regarded individual gun ownership as “necessary to our system of ordered liberty,” that effort must be seen as a failure now. Gun ownership by law-abiding citizens is the new normal, and the Second Amendment is now normal constitutional law. It will stay so, as long as enough Americans care to keep it that way. (Emphasis is mine).

What he speaks of here is what has been happening in Canada with Jean Chretien and Alan Rock, Paul Martin and now the current Federal Liberal Party leader, Michael Ignatieff and his anti-gun prolocutor MP Mark Holland, although we have called it ‘demonizing’ guns and gun ownership. Denormalizing or demonizing: Same thing. Same effect.

One needs only to look at our Federal Firearm’s Act.

Above and beyond the fact that handguns, by the fact that they are hand-held firearms, have been defined as “restricted”, we have others that have been classified as “prohibited” due to barrel length or caliber and a whole list of other firearms that have the same listing because they “look dangerous”.

The reason why a handgun with a 106 mm barrel is classified as restricted and one with a 105 mm barrel length becomes prohibited is something that must only be clear to an Ottawa bureaucrat’s tortured mind.

Then there was the situation with .25 and .32 calibre handguns which, in the mind of those who wrote the legislation, for some reason personified evil incarnate and any handguns chambered to those calibres were automatically delegated to the ranks of the prohibited. Until someone pointed out to those bright people that those were the very same calibres that the world’s competitive shooters used in international competition such as the Olympics. So now there are some (specific) handguns chambered to those calibres that not quite as evil as first thought and have been plucked from the ranks of the prohibited and deposited in the slightly more respectable classification of restricted.

On the face of it, this is all pretty silly, but it was unquestionably the intent of the legislation when written to make firearms ownership increasingly more difficult and to plant the idea in the mind of the public that guns are dangerous and not socially acceptable in Canada.

This philosophy has been the mantra of the Federal Liberal party since Jean Chretien’s time and has been part of the political bark of municipal politicians, notably Mayor David Miller of Toronto, as well as the Canadian Association of Police Chiefs, plus others with their own agendas.

Unfortunately in Canada, we don’t have a 2nd Amendment in our Constitution such as the U.S. has, so we can’t hope for the courts to work in our favour.

But as Professor Reynolds says earlier in his article, the solution is eventually political and that even though they have had some success in the U.S. courts, they should not rely on the legal system to fight their battles.

On the other hand, if gun-rights activists sit back and expect the courts to do their work for them now, they will be sadly disappointed. If pressed with further cases (which Gura says he plans to bring), the courts will do some good. But the primary protection for gun rights up to now, and for all constitutional rights, really, is political. Judicial review was intended by the Framers to be a backup system, not the main source of protection. That was intended to come from the people — and realistically, because if people don’t stand up for their own rights, courts are unlikely to take up the slack for long.

This is true in spades in Canada. If hunters, farmers, ranchers, sport shooters, collectors and all others who own and use firearms don’t begin to finally stand up en masse and state their case we will see a steady erosion of our ability (I can’t call them ‘rights’, as we lost that battle with Bill C-68) to use, let alone own those guns.


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