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Old 11-26-2023, 11:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Nyles View Post
There are plenty of things I don't like about our gun laws, but I'm actually very in favor of licensing firearms owners. Guns aren't the problem, the people who have them can be. I know that it would never fly in the States, but the fact that in Canada you need to have a license to buy or possess a firearm or ammunition is, I think, the main reason we don't have nearly the same problem with mass shootings as you do. If you're unable to pass a 6 hour safety course and unwilling to fill out a background check form, I don't want you to have a gun.
Licensing is a tricky topic, but if you want my personal take: I don't have any objection to it in principle. If we were going to have a universal licensing system here in the States, though, I'd want it to be based not on the goal of adding an obstacle for the law-abiding to arm themselves, but rather, on the goal of enabling a more effective militia. And States should take it upon themselves to ensure that they are the guardians of an effective militia, instead of trying to guarantee "public safety" (or whatever). Maryland, the state where I live now, is a good example - our handgun licensing requirements (which were just found unconstitutional at the circuit court level) seem more like a waste of time and a money-making scheme to extort gun owners and make them pay a "guilt tax" on wanting to exercise their 2A rights. I'm not opposed to licensing in principle; I'm opposed to what it often becomes in the U.S. states that have such requirements.

As for background checks: The NICS here in the States is largely uncontroversial; I'm certainly not about to go out and protest to end NICS myself. It has been a fact of life for American gun owners for 30 years now, and only the most radical of gun rights activists want to end it. What is still controversial: Where NICS should be required for all sales, FFL and private (i.e., universal background checks). It is through private transfers that most guns move from legal U.S. gun owners to criminals in our inner cities (and yours up in Canada). I have to admit that I'm of the mindset that, with a few exceptions, I wouldn't terribly oppose it becoming universal. We had universal background checks in VA before I left, and I didn't have a huge problem with it. I do, however, hate that I had to pay FFL fees to get it done - one thing that MD has that I like is that we can do pistol transfers at some Maryland State Police barracks (which is free). If there were to be universal background checks in the U.S., I would want the government to offer similar services.

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Originally Posted by Nyles View Post
We used to have registration of long guns, which I think was a waste of time and money. It never really bothered me on a personal level, it took 5 minutes on the RCMP website to register a rifle, but I'm glad we got rid of it as a cost-saving measure. We still register handguns, which I'm still pretty indifferent to - it's not that much of a hassle on me personally and the rate of handgun ownership here is low enough that I doubt it costs much.
I generally don't support registration, in part because I would expect that a licensing system and background checks should obviate the need for it. I accept the logic that gun owners have a responsibility to not lose their firearms and that registration holds them accountable, but if they're already required by law to report lost/stolen firearms, then I fail to see what registration achieves other than giving government a database of what guns are in circulation and who owns them.

And now that Canada has cracked down on owners of regulated firearms - tactical rifles and handguns - with the former now mostly banned and the latter going down the same path - I think that gun owners in America have good reason to be fearful of the consequences of registration. Canada unfortunately also illustrates that it only takes one zealous idealogue in the highest office to evaporate gun rights overnight. (Side note: I do sincerely hope Trudeau is gone by this time next year.)

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Originally Posted by Nyles View Post
We don't have handgun carry in Canada, which frankly doesn't bother me. I've carried a gun enough that it doesn't hold much excitement for me anymore. I've spent all of my life living and working downtown in one of our most violent cities and never felt the need for a gun on my person, and sold plenty of guns to people I've very glad AREN'T able to carry one on my bus to work.
Disagree on this one, and it demonstrates the difference in attitudes between gun owners here in the States vs. in Canada. Although I don't carry concealed myself (debating whether I'll apply for my CCW now, though), and generally prefer to live in areas where I don't have to worry for my safety, not everybody gets the same luxury. If we accept that people have a right to defend their life and property, that right extends outside of their homes. Or at least, it should. Alas, I know that in Canada, the notion of using a firearm for self-defense, let alone as a de facto member of the "militia", is frowned upon, and that nobody in the mainstream of the Canadian gun control debate would argue for such.

That being said, I've never been one to advocate for "shall issue" or constitutional carry, let alone open carry. I don't have a problem with the notion of the State rendering the militia effective by providing and ensuring training for those who seek to bear arms outside of their homes. I acknowledge that carrying weapons in the public sphere brings a whole other level of responsibility compared to using them to defend one's home. I get annoyed at people who open carry for the same reason that I get annoyed at people who put NRA or GOA bumper stickers on their vehicles: It makes them into walking targets. I go to great lengths to be discrete about my gun ownership; even though my weapons are in a safe, I don’t want my neighbors or potential criminals to know I have them.

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Originally Posted by Nyles View Post
I don't like that we can't own .25s, .32s or short barreled handguns, I think that's foolish and arbitrary. I don't like that I can only shoot handguns on a range (or some tactical rifles if I actually owned any), I think it's way safer to be shooting 9mm in the bush than .30-06. Our laws relating to tactical rifles in general are also arbitrary and convoluted to the point of being unenforceable.
Agree on all of these. The fact that Canadian law prohibits short-barreled handguns is a reminder that your country regards "sporting" purposes as the only justifiable use for handguns.

And I've always found Canada's laws on tactical rifles (or MSRs) to be equally strange - ironically, similar to my own state's, where we can own some types of tactical rifles, but not others.

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Originally Posted by Nyles View Post
We can ship guns across the country without involving a dealer, I never understood the point behind that one.
We probably wouldn't have the need for firearms transfers across states lines to be handled by FFLs if we had your licensing requirements, but IMHO, I don't have a huge problem with the fact that this is how it's done in the U.S. I would also not mind being able to ship guns across the country without paying an FFL, but again, that would only be if we had licensing laws for firearms and ammunition here in the States.
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Last edited by MT2008; 12-03-2023 at 09:27 PM.
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Old 11-26-2023, 11:28 PM
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But mostly I don't like the loud and aggressive gun culture that's becoming more and more prominent here and from what I can see in the States. Guns are my hobby, you might even say my passion, but they're not my identity. I don't like that more and more being a gun owner seems to come packaged with a whole set of unrelated conservative social and political viewpoints. I think the loud "no compromise", "from my cold dead hands" rhetoric is completely unproductive and mostly just scares people who might not care about gun control into thinking we're all a bunch of irrational aggressive rednecks who probably shouldn't have guns.
Understand your sentiments here, and as I've said previously, I've always found my own politics to be a less-than-perfect fit for the broader 2A community here in the States. Specifically: Since 2016, I hate the fact that being a gun owner seems to be synonymous with supporting Donald Trump, a man who I have always regarded as temperamentally unsuited to be President. I hate the fact that so many in the 2A community accuse the gun controllers of being liars who only appeal to emotion, yet they partake in their own forms of magical thinking and downright deception (e.g., claiming that magazine capacity has no relevance to firearm lethality, pretending that illegal guns never have legal origins, etc.)

The problem I have, though, is that the opposite also often appears true: Being a gun control supporter nowadays often seems to come pre-packaged with a set of unrelated ultra-liberal social and political views that scare me just as much as the beliefs of some pro-2A folks. I find it very scary that many young leftists in Generation Z regard freedom of speech as a bad thing, and believe that censoring views which offend them is appropriate and justified (and if you don't believe me, look at some of the polls that have been taken on this topic). Many regard anything and everything about America's history as evil, corrupt, and racist, and think that we need a Maoist-style Cultural Revolution to wipe out everything and start again. Since 2020, the left has also promoted tribalism and reverse-racism, as we've seen most recently in the Gaza War. The leftists who support gun control act as if they're objectively weighing the costs and benefits of gun ownership to society, but they never seem to apply that same mindset to their own causes. It's hard for me not to be skeptical of those sorts of people, especially given that they reflexively seem to despise anyone who meets my profile (white and male).

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Originally Posted by commando552 View Post
Is there any room for common sense though? You can make the argument that machine guns cost a lot of money so legal ones are not used for crimes, but this is only because they are in very limited supply due to the NFA. With a universal lack of any gun control, there would be companies making POS machine pistols for $300 which would definitely do more harm than good.
Yeah, there's room for common sense, but this is not a good example. Especially now that (in 2023), the latest criminal gun trend is "Glock switches" that convert common handguns into machine pistols.

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Originally Posted by commando552 View Post
You cant make the argument though that if one sub-set of the population can be trusted with a type of weapon then it should be available to everybody else. If you make the argument that only those people than the Government deems can be trusted with a weapon can have it, then surely this would go strongly against the universal right to keep and bear arms would it not?
Nobody's arguing that the right to bear arms has limits, just like any other right in our Constitution. But I don't buy your logic, which is the other extreme: You're saying that if a small subset of the population can't be trusted with firearms, that means that the entire population can't be. Again, those sentiments are contrary to how we operate in a liberal democracy like the United States.

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Originally Posted by commando552 View Post
Maybe it is just my rather dim view on humanity, but I will freely admit that I don't trust most people. I also do not think that gun control will necessarily prevent people from intending to commit crime, but if it is possible to limit the scope or severity of a crime then I think it is something that is worth looking at.

Another big difference in our opinions is that I think it is totally reasonable that police and military forces are allowed to use weapons that civilians do not have access to. I am a British firearms officer, and in order for me to carry and use the weapons that I do I was vetted, trained, tested, and am held constantly accountable for my actions. This is not the case with the man on the street. From a more selfish point of view, I do a job that on occasion puts me in harms way, and am happier in the knowledge that 99.99% of the time I am better armed and equipped than the other guy.
To be clear: I don't trust most people, either. But again, your sentiments are contrary to the spirit of liberal democracy. If you want to live in that type of society, you have to accept that people have freedoms that some can (and will) abuse. You have to accept that protecting the interests of the individual, and the balancing of divergent groups of people, are the primary interests of society, not "public safety," or achieving a certain outcome. You have to accept that holding society together is inherently far more difficult at all levels, including enforcing law and order. And you have to accept that what holds the society together is a strong civic society and shared values, not centralized government which takes over responsibility for every aspect of people's well-being.

I suspect that one difference in our opinions is that you're a British firearms officer, and for the most part, the U.K. trusts its police forces with firearms only a little more than it trusts civilians with them (except in places like Northern Ireland which have had problems with sectarian and paramilitary violence). As you know well, only specialized units like MO19/SCO19/SO19/CO19 are issued any type of firearms for their normal job duties, and training standards are extremely rigorous for those officers who do carry. Whereas in the U.S., every police officer gets at least a Glock or Smith & Wesson M&P on their hip, and many have access to shotguns and AR-15s through their departments. Unfortunately, as Excalibur noted, there is also a much greater problem in the United States with police officers demonstrating negligence and/or incompetence in the use of firearms, because qualification standards are pretty low (there are many officers who never fire their weapons except during annual qualification). In a country like the U.S. where a third of the population is armed, it's not uncommon to find civilians who shoot more and are far better equipped to defend themselves than any police officer. Maybe that says a lot about how we need to hold our LEOs to higher standards; certainly, as much as I don't disagree with the "Defund the Police" movement that emerged in the early-2020s, I think they're at least right that LEOs have brought in far too many officers who are under-qualified and not held accountable enough in the use of their duty weapons. But as you can imagine, many gun owners are going to find it easier to trust themselves than police. For my part: I'm not a particularly great shot, but after 25+ years of experience with firearms, I know my strengths (speed) and limitations (mostly: my awful eye sight), which guns I can handle well, and (more importantly) how quickly I can make them ready for defending myself and my family. Whereas I have dealt with plenty of local cops who didn't strike me as particularly competent at anything, including shooting.

Unlike some here, I will say that it is indeed reasonable to expect that security forces have access to weapons that civilians don't. But drawing that line at almost any type of small arms doesn't make much sense to me, as opposed to drawing the line at weapons that require military units and significant infrastructure to support, and which require heightened levels of security to guarantee that they don't fall into the hands of nefarious actors (e.g., nuclear weapons). I accept that a monopoly on force is one of the defining characteristics of a governing entity in any sovereign state, but it's also true that in a free society, the state delegates at least some of its security to individuals. A state that can prevent any acts of violence from being inflicted upon every individual in its population is also just as capable of taking away any of their freedoms, after all.
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Last edited by MT2008; 02-16-2024 at 01:45 PM.
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Old 02-16-2024, 01:45 PM
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One thing that I will say in closing: I struggle at times with the thought that not all societies or all peoples deserve the right to bear arms, or indeed, to live in a free society. To cite the obvious example that Nyles mentioned earlier: Afghanistan is a very good example of a country that, frankly, is incapable of achieving a cohesive nation-state, let alone a free society (and I do not regard a failed state as synonymous with a "free" society). Individual Afghans might be worthy of such freedoms, but collectively, Afghans have demonstrated that they are not committed to the principles that are required to live in a free and open society - they value tribalism and theocracy over individual liberty and human rights. A society like that doesn't benefit from having an armed population - on the contrary, firearms only become a tool to enforce tyranny at the individual and societal level. So, I don't agree with the ostensible sentiments of America's 2A community that an "armed society is a polite society" - or even a free one as we conceptualize it. In order for the right to bear arms to serve as a means to preserve a free society, a population must have a shared commitment to the values of a liberal democratic republic - without that, there's no free society to defend. Even then, the right to bear arms must be seen as a means of last resort to preserve that society.

What keeps me up at night is that I'm no longer so sure that a sizeable plurality of Americans on either the left or right are committed to the values on which this country was founded, and I think that an argument could be made that if we slide too far into radicalism, we are no longer deserving of a right to bear arms because we're no longer committed to the general concept of a free society. Sadly, I think that our federal government now feels the same way, which is why it sees its role as protecting Americans from themselves and is thus more willing to infringe on the 2nd Amendment. I don't exactly support this (quite the contrary), but I have some empathy for the notion that in a democracy, we get the government we deserve.
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