Public Safety Minister Blaney tabled today in the House of Commons the "Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act." We have not had the opportunity to study the fine print of the bill but at first glance, it appears that the Federal Government's new proposals will make it easier to transport restricted firearms such as handguns. Common sense indicates that we should strengthen not weaken our gun control laws.
The politician in me understands that in crafting policy, factors such as social conditions, supports available for mental illness, and the protection in place at children's schools, must all be considered. I am well aware of how important comprehensive consideration, investment, and ultimately prevention can be in avoiding incidents like Friday's shooting. The cop in me, however, is an unyielding proponent of strict gun control after witnessing firsthand the devastation gun violence causes society. It also makes me intolerant of playing the politics of re-election and courting public support on issues of this magnitude.
While I had long believed in gun control, its importance hit home for me after losing my mother at the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007. Like many Canadians, I took some comfort in the strong Canadian laws and the seeming lack of comparable influence of the Canadian gun lobby compared to their NRA cousins in the US. However, the changes to Canadian gun laws over the past year show that this sense of comfort was naive.
Friday's monstrous, senseless killing spree in Colorado obviously sucked the whimsy out of the news cycle this weekend, and even a cynic like me must concede that the Canadian press has largely responded with a rarely-seen abundance of dignity and restraint. There have been no obnoxious editorials about gun control, no ill-timed rants about Canadian superiority in the face of "yet another" symptom of American dysfunction.
I defend people charged with illegally possessing handguns. Many of them. There is at least one new such case every month; sometimes, there are two or three. If this crime is like any other, however, the number of people being caught illegally possessing handguns represents only a small fraction of those committing the offence.
Ezra Levant's weekend column in the Sun comparing Nazi suppression to Canada's gun control laws showed a lack of journalistic professionalism that harms both his own cause and the advancement of civil discourse in Canada. An author of six books and a holder of a law degree should hold himself to a higher standard.