Rural communities under the gun

April 2, 2018 7:26 am

Lorne Gunter, Toronto Sun, March 17, 2018

The federal Liberals’ upcoming gun control legislation and the recent spike in rural crime are closely related.

No, I don’t mean that if the Libs can just do something about getting guns under control, they will reduce the rural crime rate, which has risen by more than 20% in many rural parts of the country over the past five years.

Nope. From that aspect, past Liberal gun control measures have actually made rural crime worse.

Past gun controls — such as the firearms registry — have given criminals the impression there are fewer law-abiding citizens with guns out. And that has caused crime to rise because the bad guys have more confidence they will not meet armed civilians while out burglarizing innocent Canadians.

Whatever new controls the Trudeau government brings in, perhaps as early as this spring, are most likely only going to make rural crime worse.

Reports coming out of the Liberal caucus suggest the government wants to make it easier to ban all types of firearms and not pay compensation to owners who are forced to give them up. According to caucus sources, handguns (which are already severely controlled in Canada) and semi-automatic rifles will be particularly easy for cabinet, the RCMP or bureaucrats to ban without having to get permission from Parliament first.

The only people who will comply with such surrender and seizure orders will be law-abiding citizens. Criminals will not hesitate to ignore the new controls. (The willingness to disobey laws is how they got to be criminals in the first place.)

No criminal — rural or urban — is going to say: “I may be prepared to rob, beat and murder you, but if Justin Trudeau says I should turn in my guns, I’ll do it!”

So the bad guys will keep their guns and more of the good guys will lose theirs, which means the firearms imbalance will only worsen and rural crime will rise as a result.

But that’s not the only way in which impending gun controls and rural crime are related. Both are also products of the same mentality.

Rural property owners who believe they must use force to defend themselves, their families or their property are frequently forced to defend their actions in court. More often than not, they are charged, occasionally even with more serious crimes than their alleged attackers.

Alleged criminals are often treated by police, prosecutors, judges and politicians with more respect and compassion than self-defending landowners. (And don’t think criminals haven’t sensed that, too, and increased their criminal activities as a result.)

The other connection is that the mentality of our criminal justice system and the false hope that controls on law-abiding gun ownership will reduce crime, come from the same place: A misbelief that the authorities — the government — and not the people, are the masters in a democracy.

I have written before that I will never fully trust a government that doesn’t trust me to own a gun – or a whole bunch of guns, if I choose.

I don’t own guns. Never have. I’ve never even fired a gun.

Farmers and ranchers own guns to control vermin, such as coyotes. Hunters own them as instruments of recreation; collectors as sources of fascination and history.

None of these uses of firearms as “tools” interests me in the least.

But you can tell a lot about individual freedom in a country or society by how a government treats private firearms ownership.

And, increasingly, I think you can tell a lot about the idea of individual sovereignty by how a government respects the right to self-defence, even of property.