According to Canadian Federal law from a practical perspective, there are 3 lawful reasons for a person to privately own a gun in Canada. Hunting (including pest control), collecting, and target shooting.
Self defense is NOT recognized by the Canadian government as a lawful reason to own a gun. The Canadian government, always chosen by Eastern Canadian voters, believes people have no right to protect themselves. But I digress.
By Federal Canadian law, hunting and pest control can only be done with “Non-Restricted” classified firearms.
Whether it’s farmers shooting gophers and coyotes or hunters harvesting elk, these kinds of activities can only be done with low ammunition capacity, long barreled rifles and shotguns (no handguns).
Target shooting and collecting can run the full gambit for firearms, cosmetically “traditional” long rifles and shotguns or “modern” firearms including rifles, shotguns, and pistols with a more militarized “tactical” appearance. It is for these purposes that one tends to find “Restricted” and “Prohibited” firearms.
When you examine the statistics according to the RCMP, you see an interesting phenomenon that is only explained by different cultural attitudes between the West and East when it comes to guns.
As there is no more long gun registry in this country, it is impossible to say what the distribution of “long guns” is. These are gun generally used for hunting and pest control although thanks to the idiocy of Liberal politicians and bureaucrats, also includes many delightful modern firearms that fit into the “scary” looking category:
Today in Canada, the only firearms that are lawfully required to be registered are those that fall into the “restricted” or “prohibited” category. These are all handguns and certain rifles and shotguns that are either “named” (as in, an ignorant politician, probably a Liberal, decided it was scary and needed to be restricted or prohibited) or by some arbitrary set of poorly thought technical requirements thought up by some Liberal in the 1990’s.
Regardless of the category of firearm, a license is required in order to lawfully possess a firearm of any type. This means every law abiding hunter, target shooter, and gun collector in Canada has a purple plastic card, issued by the Federal Government.
Analyzing statistics (December 2014), you can make some clear conclusions about differences in attitudes about gun ownership between Western Canada and Eastern Canada.
First, Westerners are more comfortable owning guns than people in Ontario. This is evident from the facts that the “Licenses per 100,000 population” is higher than the national average (5942) in Alberta (7177), Manitoba (7010), and Saskatchewan (9463). While below the national average, even British Columbia (5731) is higher than “below-average” Ontario (4362).
Quebec’s licensing statistic (6270) is interesting, in that it’s level of firearms licensing is higher than Ontario’s, the national average, and almost comparable to all the Western Provinces.
This, however can be explained by statistics for “Restricted and prohibited firearms per 100,000 Population.” Remember, these are every legally owned handgun in the country and certain “scary” looking, modern military style rifles such as AR15’s, AK47’s, and certain CZ858’s and Swiss Arms.
Every Western province has a high level of ownership of these firearms, well above the national average (2724). Alberta (4799 – we’re number 1!), British Columbia (3694), Manitoba (2848), Saskatchewan (4518). This can only mean that Western Canadian provinces have a greater comfort with handguns and military style long guns, whose only “legal” reason for ownership is to target shoot and collect.
Ontario (2612) and Quebec (1230) clearly have hunters and farmers, but apparently they are too civilized for the brutishness of handgun or 3-gun target shooting that we Westerners enjoy. This is an obvious cultural difference between the East and the West but also highlights the hopelessness the West has when it comes to Federal politics.
If we examine the political history of Stephan Harper’s tenure as Prime Minister, one critical point that caused much stir in the Canadian firearms community was the then governing Conservative’s alignment with the Toronto based “Canadian Shooting Sport Association” and the “Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters” while snubbing the Edmonton based “National Firearms Association” and the myriad of Western Canadian sport shooting and hunting associations.
This is a clear indication of the Conservative’s pandering to Eastern Canadian votes at the expense of Western Canadian culture.
Right before the election, the Conservative’s did what many in the main stream media termed “dog-whistle” politics, by exercising a provision of Bill C-42 that many gun owners, especially Western Canadians appreciated. C-42 was a law the Conservatives passed in response to the RCMP arbitrarily (and many believe, maliciously) reclassifying two firearms (the CZ858 and Swiss Arms) to prohibited, effectively making it illegal for their owners to possess them. With C-42, the Conservatives overturned the ruling.
The Liberals campaigned to repeal C-42 and “get handguns and assault weapons off our streets.” The same guns we love out in the West, the Liberals are going to take away. Out west, we like our handgun and paramilitary “assault weapons.” Out east, they like their single shot, bolt action deer rifles and break action duck guns (we like those out West too – we like all guns). The difference is Eastern Canadian politicians want to take away our guns out West.
The hopelessness and futility of the west in Federal politics is even more clear in that Canadian gun laws as they are today were established in the late 1990’s by the Federal Liberal’s through Bill C-68. Most of C-68 is still in effect. The Conservative Party, while in opposition, campaigned that they would repeal it. Though they had a majority for 4 years and never did.
They threw Western Canadian gun owners scraps by doing what was politically expedient and palatable: abolish the Long Gun Registry due to ridiculous cost overruns and pass bill C-42 – which will be abolished shortly by the now governing Liberals.
The Conservatives pandered to Eastern Canadian voters at our expense in the West – and lost.
Canadian gun laws today really reflect the entire state of the Canadian government’s unchanging attitude towards Western Canada on issues well beyond gun control: restrict, prohibit, register, and regulate into submission.
It is time to separate.