With the possible exception of an actual war zone, would someone please explain to me why it makes sense for an 18- year-old boy (or girl for that matter) to own an assault rifle that can kill multiple people in a matter of seconds? I’d love to hear that explanation.
It sickens me to see what is happening in the United States these days, shootings and mass killings almost daily now. It is becoming a feature of American culture. Yesterday alone, four people were killed and 28 injured from shootings in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Texas. And then of course there is Uvalde, Texas, where that 18-year-old boy slaughtered 21 people, most of whom were little children.
And in case we Canadians smugly think that this can never happen here, remember the very recent mass shooting in Buffalo, practically on Canada’s American friendly border, where 10 people died in a senseless mass shooting. There was only the Niagara River between us and that one.
To be clear, I am not one of those that believes that all guns, other than those issued to military and police forces, should be banned in Canada. There are legitimate, licensed, and trained gun owners in Canada who use their weapons responsibly for sport hunting or at gun clubs.
In the interest of full disclosure, I was at one time in my career an investor in a business in Lakefield, Ontario, that manufactured .22 calibre sporting rifles.
Personally, I have only fired a rifle once. Early in my time in Huntsville, I was invited along with a friend into a long-established hunting camp during deer season. It was mostly older guys and we soon learned that the main reason we were there was to drag the deer that others shot out of the bush. Nevertheless, we had rifles and were placed on deer watches.
On one of these days, as I was enjoying being outside in beautiful fall weather, a doe jumped out of the bush no more than 20 feet from me. She just stood there and stared at me. I knew what I was supposed to do but just couldn’t, so I shot over her head and she scampered away.
That night was the closest I ever came to being taken to the woodshed. Our dog puncher, a truly wonderful outdoorsman, took me aside and gave me an earful in pretty plain language. He had been tracking that deer for hours, he knew exactly where he put it out, and exactly where I was. He told me there was no possible way I could miss shooting it unless I deliberately missed and then suggested if I didn’t want to hunt, I shouldn’t come to hunt camp. He was right. I never went hunting again.
Clearly, hunting was not for me. But I respect those that consider it a legitimate sport. That does not mean, however, that I believe all guns are for all people. We have no second amendment rights here and those rights are tragically abused in the United States.
Thankfully, we have tougher gun laws here.
I do think, however, when it comes to gun violence, we need to take more seriously the events taking place in the United States and should not be complacent about the possibility of increasing gun violence in Canada, especially when a growing atmosphere of national anger and frustration has the potential to trigger civil disobedience, and indeed has.
I have no problem with legislation requiring gun owners to register their weapons. After all, we register our cars and we need a licence to drive, so why should owning a gun, which can also kill people, be any different? I support vigorous background checks for the purchase of guns and proof that those that own them know how to use them safely. And there is no excuse for anyone, outside of law enforcement, to have access to semi-automatic or assault weapons.
Having said that, I do take exception to the “freeze” on the purchase and sale of all handguns in Canada announced last week by the Trudeau government. In my view, it was a cynical and political move designed to appeal to those of us who were appalled at the mass shootings in the United States. It was a knee-jerk reaction, not well thought out and, at best, is only temporary. It also punishes those who have done nothing to deserve punishment.
More importantly, it does nothing to stop or control the potential of gun violence in Canada. Weapons that are out there are still out there. What it does accomplish, is it allows the government to appear to be taking gun violence seriously, when in the view of many they are actually ducking the real issues.
What are they doing to stop the importation and sale of illegal weapons? What steps has this government taken to control illegal gun smuggling and gang violence that even now is killing Canadians? Why aren’t there tougher jail sentences for those convicted of gun violence?
Most importantly, it is my view that this handgun freeze announced by the Trudeau government is a gift to Pierre Poilievre, clearly now the undisputed leader of the so-called freedom movement in this country and potentially the next leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. I shudder to think that it might have been a deliberate strategy on the part of the prime minister.
Pierre Poilievre is reaching out to every Canadian who in one way or another is dissatisfied. He is feeding on anger, frustration, and fear. He is appealing to those who want to tear down government and who resort to civil disobedience. He attracts antivaxxers in spite of the science, in the name of freedom, and he will do the same again with his definition of “freedom”, as it relates to the Trudeau government’s ban on handguns. He will gain more supporters as a result. Nothing more than a gift from Justin Trudeau to Pierre Poilievre.
The so-called freedom movement in Canada is growing and Pierre Poilievre, having hitched his wagon to it, right at the front of the line, is growing too. That concerns me. It is, to me, getting too much like the dark side of Trumpism, feeding fear, denigrating institutions, and encouraging dissent. And too often dissent leads to violence.
Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party may believe this will keep them in power for years to come. He may or may not be right. But I, for one, believe the “freedom movement” is misleading and dangerous and think that in this leadership race, Conservatives, including myself, should be careful what we wish for.
For me, being careful means I will not be voting for Pierre Poilievre. He is not my first choice. Not my second choice. Not my last choice.
Hugh Mackenzie has held elected office as a trustee on the Muskoka Board of Education, a Huntsville councillor, a District councillor, and mayor of Huntsville. He has also served as chairman of the District Muskoka and as chief of staff to former premier of Ontario, Frank Miller.
Hugh has served on a number of provincial, federal and local boards, including chair of the Ontario Health Disciplines Board, vice-chair of the Ontario Family Health Network, vice-chair of the Ontario Election Finance Commission, and board member of Roy Thomson Hall, the National Theatre School of Canada, and the Anglican Church of Canada. Locally, he has served as president of the Huntsville Rotary Club, chair of Huntsville District Memorial Hospital, chair of the Huntsville Hospital Foundation, president of Huntsville Festival of the Arts, and board member of Community Living Huntsville.
In business, Hugh Mackenzie has a background in radio and newspaper publishing. He was also a founding partner and CEO of Enterprise Canada, a national public affairs and strategic communications firm established in 1986.
Currently, Hugh is president of C3 Digital Media Inc., the parent company of Doppler Online, and he enjoys writing commentary for Huntsville Doppler.
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