(As opposed to the former Gun Control).
Updated November 27, 2001.
Rationale: Why this Page?
In late April 1996, I, along with the rest of the world, was horrified to hear
of the slaughter of helpless innocents by yet another armed maniac, this time
in Tasmania. Following as it did so closely on the horror of the massacre of
children in Dunblaine, Scotland, I was moved to scan the search engines to see
what there was about gun control. I found, much to my distress, that anti-gun
control pages were a dime a dozen, while reasonable, coherent positions in
favour were few and far between. I have made it my policy to make humour the
focus of my web site, so a decision to include an item of such a controversial
nature as gun control was not easy. Thanks to a good deal of feedback, mostly
constructive, but some not, I have changed my opinion on the topic from an
initially reactionary statement on my home page to what you are reading now,
which represents many hours of what I hope are careful reflection on my
feelings and the feedback of others.
My Philosophy of Crime and Criminals
As a generally peaceful person, I detest violence and violent people.
Paradoxically, my gut desire is to see all people convicted of violent crimes
(beyond the shadow of a doubt of course) be put to death, preferably a nasty
one, especially pedophiles, rapists, and wife-abusers. In this same vein, my
personal hatred towards these people in particular, and to criminals in general,
is such that I would strongly support any move to make killing anyone caught in
the act of certain crimes (rape, robbery, assault, murder, drug dealing, drunk
driving, and burglary among them) not a crime, provided of course that the
person who kills can prove that the person was in fact committing a
"killable" crime at the time. (I believe this because IMHO a criminal is
forfeiting his/her rights under the state by committing such heinous acts.)
Furthermore, I think the criminal (if he/she survives) or his/her family (if
not) should have no right to sue for damages caused by the fact that he was
caught committing a crime! Systems which do allow this are downright
unforgiveable. I've heard of such things, and they make me sick!
My Philosophy on Gun Control
So how does such a bloodthirsty attitude reconcile itself with the idea of gun
control? One would think that, to judge by the above paragraph, that I might
be in favour of unrestricted and enthusiastic access to firearms. Such a
question requires the answer to another -- just what is "gun control"
Most people's conception, including initially my own (how about
you?), is that the advocates of gun control believe that since most violent
crimes are committed with the aid of a firearm, the severe restriction or
outright abolition of citizens' ability to own firearms will reduce the rate of
said crimes, since theoretically there would be fewer available.
The knee-jerk reaction I and no doubt others have to the reports of mindless
violence, such as the recent (January 1997) murder of Bill Cosby's son, and the
increase in violence in schools, is to agree with this. After all, if the
particular scumbag(s) had not had the gun(s), would the crime(s) have been
committed? The counter-question is, just how many violent crimes are committed
with firearms by their legitimate owners? I don't know the answer to
this, but I'll be willing to bet it's a pretty small fraction. Unfortunately,
the creature who murdered those children in Dunblaine, Marc Lepine (the
repellant example of humanity who murdered 14 female engineering students at the
Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal in 1986) and perhaps the other creature in
Tasmania as well, are among this fraction.
So how do I define "gun control"? For me, gun control does not mean the
total abolition of a citizen's right to own firearms. That is obviously
patently impossible, just as the illegality of street drugs has not prevented
their use, nor did the abolition of alcohol in the 1920s prevent people from
using it either. The fact that illegal firearms are so readily available to
criminals only reinforces this sad reality -- if they're so easy for the scum to
get, they couldn't be that much harder for the so-called otherwise law-abiding
average citizen to get either.
Why is gun control necessary? Because we want to deny certain elements of the
population the privilege of owning lethal weapons. Would you want someone with
a history of paranoid schizophrenia, or a convicted rapist, or Fester the
Molester, to be legally allowed to own a gun, knowing full well that the chance
of him/her using it against a fellow citizen is high, and that the citizen
could be you or someone close to you? If not (and I should hope so!) then
voila, you are in favour of gun control. The hard part lies in deciding on a
policy that is fair and reasonable, and then implementing it fairly, reasonably,
and consistently. (Since it would have to be monitored and enforced by a bureaucracy,
and since we all know how bureaucracies can turn even the simplest of ideas
into complex messes, this will definitely be the hardest part.
Other people (mostly Americans) have expressed the idea to me that only allowing
the police and army to have firearms easily sets things up for a dictatorship.
Personally, I cannot fathom why this would be a concern, but then again I live
in a country (Canada) which has never had a tendency to enforce its foreign
policy by invading or bombing other countries whose ideology does not agree with
ours, and whose military is probably incapable of staging a coup anyways. (We
have less violent methods -- we would simply jam their radio and TV stations
with endless debates about our national unity "problems" until the target
country's populace has their brains switch off from self defence. A few rounds
of this and they'll surrender.) And besides, I am not advocating
Another argument against gun control is that an armed populace would be no
defense against a military takeover anyways. It is one thing to learn how to
shoot a gun but it is another thing entirely to coordinate and train a group of
people to function as an effective fighting unit. Armed civilians acting on
their own or in unstructured groups would be no match at all against a
well-trained military intent on neutralizing resistance. Even if the victims of
the appalling massacres in Bosnia and Rwanda (or others like the Jews in WWII or
the Armenians in WWI or the long list of other atrocities) had been armed to the
teeth, they still would have been massacred, the only difference being that the
perpetrators would have suffered a few more casualties. But again, I am
not advocating the abolition of firearm ownership, so this
argument is irrelevant.
To me, gun control is the regulation of the sale and ownership of
firearms, which are after all designed to do only one thing -- to kill.
The question is, how can this be done in a manner that can be seen to be fair
So why do I think that (my idea of) gun control is (still) necessary?
I am not in favour of free and unrestricted access to firearms simply because
they were designed for only one purpose, to kill. What I propose can, and
perhaps should, really be referred to as (legislated) gun responsibility
rather than "gun control". I have three reasons why I feel there is a need to
legislate gun responsibility.
- A frightening number of people are, in various ways, irresponsible
idiots, it is these idiots who tar the responsible people with their brush, and
I have no faith whatsoever in the general public's ability to self-regulate in
such an important thing. As cynical as this may sound, all you have to do is
look at the News of the Weird site
to get a sampling of the idiots out there.
- I have yet to hear anyone squawk about having to register and license
their vehicles, and vehicles were not designed specifically for killing. Target
shooters may take exception to this latter statement, and for all I know some
guns were designed specifically for target shooting, but that's not what the
majority of firearms over the centuries were designed for! Registration of a
firearm should be no more onerous a task than registering a vehicle, and done
at the place and time of purchase. A simple form should be all that is
- Would you want Fester the Molester to be legally allowed to own a
firearm? Would you want a convicted felon or a person with a known history of
mental illness, such as paranoid schizophrenia, to be allowed to own a firearm?
Somehow, U.S. Second Amendment notwithstanding, I don't think so. After all,
felons have already shown a blatant disregard for the law, so why should they
be allowed to enjoy some of its privileges which could very well result in
danger to others? That's a form of gun control right there, isn't it? Since we
can't get around the fact that it is needed, we need a fair and consistent
system to implement it. Certain elements of society should not be legally
permitted to own firearms, and it is necessary that applicants' histories be
checked to make sure this is not a problem. Nothing can stop them from getting
one illegally, of course, but still we must keep them from legally owning any.
Owning and/or operating something which is potentially fatal (be it driving a
vehicle or owning a firearm) is a big responsibility, and one should be able to
demonstrate responsibility before being legally allowed to do so. Below are
listed my ideas for gun control/responsibility and my rationale for each. Many
of these are already in place to varying degrees, but I think that requirements
should be made uniform everywhere, rather than varying by jurisdiction.
Some Modest Proposals
- Registration Requirements
- First and foremost, it should be a requirement that all firearms be
registered with a regulating authority (usually some police force). This
proposal is already in effect pretty much everywhere, but in some jurisdictions
I think there are some exemptions to this. There must be no exemptions.
Registration will allow stolen weapons to be identified and returned (provided
the serial numbers aren't removed, of course) and to be used as evidence
against the person caught with them. No serial number of course means that the
firearm has been stolen and would be cause to have the possessor arrested.
Also, think about it from the perspective of a police officer answering a call
on something like a domestic dispute. In such a dangerous situation, wouldn't
you want to know if there were firearms there which could be used against
- To reduce the possibility for errors, registration should be done at the
gun shop on purchase of the weapon. A simple form listing the owner's name,
address, etc, gun make, model, and serial number would be filled out and sent
to the registering authority. Unregistered weapons could be registered in the
same way, at a gun shop or club where it is assumed that the people in charge
would be knowledgeable enough to make a positive ID on anything you bring in.
The already overworked police should not have to be directly involved in the
process at all if it is done this way. Because bureaucracies have a long and
miserable track record in screwing up any simple procedure (such as this one),
registration should be handled by a non-profit corporation whose only
restriction is that its records must be made available to the police upon
request. It should not be a process which is used to discourage the acquisition
of firearms (there are other ways) since we (OK, I) want people to
register! It should be just a matter of process, just like registering your car
when you buy it, and no more difficult.
- Concerns have been expressed to me about registration leading to
confiscation. True, that is always a possibility, and there is no way I can say
that it can't. I don't believe in the arbitrary confiscation of firearms just
because some bureaucrat makes a model politically incorrect -- that is just
theft by another name. But we should be used to that, since we get robbed every
April, on every pay cheque, and every time we buy something, by the tax
- It has been suggested that perhaps the people, rather than the
firearms, be what is registered/licensed. This would certainly make the process
easier, and potentially reduce paperwork, as only the person and not each
firearm would be on record. Registration as a gun owner would be contingent on:
- Successful completion of a safety/education course as mentioned above
for first-timers, including kids who reach some sort of "age of majority"
similar to a driver's license, or
- Proof of "life experience equivalent" for those who have been trained
as part of their job (military, police);
- Proof of adequate storage facilities at home, especially if there are
children in the family.
- Various grades of licensing can be established, including ability to
own X number of handguns and Y of long guns (where X and Y can be increased
in set increments, with fees increasing accordingly), the ability to
transport firearms in a secure
manner between places (like home and gun club, or out to go hunting), and
the ability to carry a concealed handgun (which should be expensive and
require rigorous training or "life experience equivalent").
Most, if not all, jurisdictions probably already have such requirements
already, to one degree or another, that have to be met before one can even get
permission to legally own a firearm (something like Canada's Firearms
Acquisition Certificate). If I read the proposal I received correctly, the
registration of the individual firearms would not be required, only that of the
users/owners. Given the vast number of firearms floating around the US,
registering every one requires large databases and is expensive in terms of the
manpower required to maintain them, process applications, etc. On the down side
(at least from the state's point of view), by not registering firearms they
lose the chance to screw the gun owners out of even more money. Policing
concerns notwithstanding, you can probably guess what cash-hungry governments
would say about losing a lucrative source of income...
- Proof of Competence
- Firearm owners should also be required to at least yearly ensure that
their firearm(s) is/are in proper working order, and to have a certain number
of hours on the firing range to
is just common sense -- after all, what's the point in having a gun if it won't
work properly, or if you can't shoot straight?
- Screening/Training the Newbies
- First time owner wanna-bees are already required to pass an
similar in nature to a driver's license exam, to prove that they are ready for
this responsibility, and usually must pass through some sort of screening
process to ensure s/he is not a criminal or psychopath. This process should not
be made into a "punishment", the way it has become in many jurisdictions.
Again, the process is just common sense. Obviously, if a non-newbie person
wishes to purchase a firearm then a quick check with the registration
authorities should be made to see if his/her eligibility has been changed due
to a criminal conviction, but other than that no other hassles should have to
be endured. With the high-speed computer communications networks that we have
now, this should not be a terribly onerous task, nothing worse than a credit
card purchase already is.
- Training classes should educate the new users not just in firearm safety,
but in the laws and regulations concerning firearms in the municipality, the state
or province (if different from the municipality), and other states/provinces
as well. This would be of great help to all firearm users because the laws (in
the U.S. at least) often differ greatly between neighbouring states, and
knowledge would help to reduce problems caused by accidental transgressions.
Many states offer
classes to teach the specific laws and regulations pertaining of gun
ownership and safety in their states.
- Household Safety
- Children in a household which has a firearm must be properly
educated in safety. Far too many tragedies have resulted from kids playing with
guns. This is another aspect of responsibility, except it falls under
that of being a good parent. Any parent with firearms in the house has a duty,
to their child and to themselves, to ensure that the firearms are
inaccessible to the children, and that the kids are thoroughly grounded in firearm
safety. Of course, some way must be found to balance this fundamental need
against the reason most firearms are purchased in the first place, the perceived
need for protection of self and property from the scumbags. Potential solutions
to this problem could be outlined in approved safety courses from gun clubs, and
education of kids must be made available to all in the school system (if
it isn't already).
- Restrictions on Ownership
- Certain people should not be allowed to legally own firearms. These
include people with convictions for various violent crimes, which may or may
not have involved firearms, and people with psychiatric problems which could
make them a menace to themselves or others, and people under some age of
majority, say 18 or 19. These restrictions should be in place uniformly
everywhere and not allowed to vary from region to region.
- Certain firearms should not be allowed outside military or police
control. These include automatic weapons (which are already restricted, of course),
or those which can be easily made automatic, and certain rifles which
either are or can be easily made fully automatic. I cannot imagine how anybody
can justify "needing" to own an automatic weapon for "protection" or for
hunting, since where's the "sport" in emptying a clip in the general direction
of an animal knowing that there's a good chance it will get hit at least once?
Sure, I'll be just as dead if I'm shot by a .22 as I would be by an Uzi, but the
very nature of automatic weapons makes them very difficult to control once they
get going, and the chances for accidentally inflicting "collateral damage" (to
borrow the ridiculous phrase) on other people or things is that much greater.
- In my heart of hearts, I'd like to see a limit on how many firearms per
household could be owned, but no matter how I try to wrap my tiny little brain
around the idea, I just can't see how a limit could be set that would not be
arbitrary. Sport or professional shooters would likely need an exemption, and
of course collectors would need exemptions as well, and who is to say
that I'm not a collector? Trying to figure this out would go against the KISS
principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid) on which my whole argument is based, so I
must (regretfully) state that my position on gun responsibility/control cannot
include anything on limitations, except to rely on the common sense of the
individual (a rather hazardous thing to do at best).
But these proposals restrict my "freedom"!
Of course they do, but I hope not by all that much, since I've tried to stick
to the KISS principle and/or common sense. In spite of what we like to
believe, we will never live in a totally "free" society as long as human nature
is what it is. Someone can't just say "I'm a truck driver!" and hop into a rig
and start driving -- he/she has to be trained, and certified as such before
being turned loose on the unsuspecting world. Same goes for health care
professionals, mechanics, plumbers, electricians, laywers, nuclear physicists,
and so on. Where do you think the game of football, or hockey, or baseball be
without rules? In the mythical utopia of Happyland, the only law on the books
would be the Golden Rule, i.e. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto
you." None other would be necessary, and there would be no need for government
laws at all. (Not that there wouldn't be a need for a government, since
somebody has to coordinate things.) However, this is not Happyland and the
world is chock-full of inconsiderate and irresponsible idiots who bung things up
for the rest of us, so we have to have regulations (and enforcement) to save
ourselves from them.
Here is an extract from a message I got regarding the previous edition of this
So many people in this country are prideful and sometimes a tad
over-enthusiastic about "freedom". But, to properly act upon, respect, and
truly know what this word means, it's something you need to educate yourself on
and explore thoroughly before riding the freedom criers train. Too many people
hide behind this word without really understanding what it means. So many sadly
think it means doing whatever you want, whenever you want, or you or not free.
This is a shame. So few realize that to have freedom, you in effect need to
have rules and organization. And effectively, once these are diminished, so are
your freedoms. (Kim Trancynger, personal communication.) My own footnote to
this is: Freedom is also a responsibility, and should be treated with respect
by those who want it.
There's no point in having regulations or controls if they aren't enforced. As
long as a person uses his/her firearm responsibly (or better still, not at all)
then it isn't a problem. I think that there must be stronger deterrents to
their misuse, however. If a person is unwilling to accept the responsibilities
inherent in ownership, such as training, maintenance, and safety and refresher
courses, then the license should be suspended and all firearms confiscated
until the requirements are met.
Commission of any crime involving a firearm should have an automatic 5-year (or
more) sentence minimum, with no parole or chance for early release. Shooting
someone in self-defence, such as in a break-in, should not be considered a crime
(though it would have to be proved that it was self-defence) since, in my
opinion (and others too, no doubt) acting in self-defence is not a crime, and
the creeps get what they deserve. The creep should not be allowed to sue for
injuries sustained while committing a crime either!
Possession of a stolen or unregistered firearm should also result in a stiff
fine, not to mention confiscation and a severe scolding. Also, anyone (such as
hunters) caught carrying a firearm while under the influence of alcohol or other
mind-altering drugs deserves to have said firearm(s) immediately seized, have
any hunting license and game caught immediately forfeited, be denied another
hunting permit for at least one year, be forced to pay a heavy fine, and have
his/her picture published prominently in a local newspaper. We should be just
as harsh, if not even more so, on impaired hunters as we are on impaired
drivers, as they are being about as irresponsible as people can be.
Will these proposals reduce crime?
I doubt it. Most of what I have discussed above have already been in place in
most jurisdictions for some time, though the degree of regulation varies widely
from country to country, and within the U.S. from state to state, and violent
crime rates are, for the most part, not improving. I have heard claims that
places with "concealed carry" laws have had crime rates drop, but I would like
to see a proper study take place on that. Logically I can see the reason for
it, but if a creep gets the drop on you it really doesn't matter, does it? For
the creeps who are undeterred by these laws, they would be more likely to shoot
first and ask questions later, making it even more dangerous. Or so I think;
I'm no criminologist. Unfortunately, no amount of regulation will get rid of
illegal weapons, just like with drugs, and crimes will still be committed with
them. Unlike drugs, they wouldn't have to be imported at great expense either,
they'd be gotten by breakins. Regulations on firearms will also not do anything
about the root causes of crime, which are far too complex for me to discuss;
crime can only be reduced when people's motivations to commit crimes are
reduced. I have no problems with "concealed carry" per se
who gets such a permit obviously should be well-trained in both safety, the
ability to hit a target should the need arise (so as to not endanger bystanders
in case of an "incident"), and in handling situations that might or might not
require drawing your gun. The same courses that police officers take in this
regard should be taken by those wishing a concealed-carry license. (If they're
good enough for the cops, they should be good enough for you.)
Well, if they won't reduce crime, then why bother?
After all, these proposals don't come cheap for firearm owners and taxpayers,
the cops and courts are already overloaded, and the criminals don't care
anyways. I reiterate my original idea, in that the controls are needed to
ensure gun responsibility
, to try to protect us from the irresponsible
yet non-criminal idiots out there, and to at least give us the tools to lock up
the scum for a little longer. Registration, the biggest potential burden on
the police, would not even be handled by them, but be done at gun shops and
managed under an independent (from government mismanagement) non-profit
organization. What I propose is, I hope, not overly burdensome or "punishing",
Anything that acts to raise the general awareness of the issues and
responsibilities involved in the ownership of very dangerous property is a good
thing. Increased safety awareness means a reduction in fatal (and non-fatal)
accidents, and what price is a life?
Some links to other sites of potential interest
I will conclude my monologue, with a few links to other sites. The first and
most logical one is to the National Rifle
. As a powerful lobby group with millions of members, it has a
de facto responsibility to promote firearm safety. It appears to be living up
to it, with its Eddie
program for kids. The main site itself certainly contains a wealth
of useful information and is well worth exploring.
Other links on firearm safety and control-related issues will be added as they
are brought to my attention, and as I see fit.
Firearms Home Page seems to serve much the same purpose as the NRA.
Console Vault manufactures an auto
vault to custom fit into your vehicle console.
Unquestionably, the topic of firearms controls is a thorny one which seems to
inflame passions remarkably. I am not an advocate of gun ownership abolition,
not because I don't want to see a gun-free world, but because human nature is
what it is. If we can find some way to abolish the actual or perceived
for firearms for self-protection, then gun control will become a
moot point anyways. As it is, I think controls are required not so much to
save us from the criminals (which they can't/won't), but to aid us against the
legions of irresponsible idiots out there. Never underestimate the power of
And now, at last I conclude my soapbox monologue. Thank you for taking the
time to read it! I hope that you found it balanced and at least reasonable. I
have spent many hours thinking about this (hours I should have been spending
doing my research!). Please feel free to e-mail me, Harold Reynolds, with (constructive
only, please) comments. Thank you for reading, and please at least consider
what I have written.
This is the most serious part of my site. Now it's time to lighten up
and see something funny! Return to my home page