Dec 202012
 
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Canadian gun control laws are much weaker than most of us want to believe.

by Linda McQuaig

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This little notice popped onto my screen as I browsed the website of one of Canada’s biggest gun retailers, surveying the wide assortment of assault weapons it offers for sale online — including one virtually identical to the semi-automatic rifle used in last week’s horrific school slaughter in Connecticut.

Canadians often take comfort in the notion that spectacles of gruesome gun violence are part of a US pathology that has prevented Americans from putting in place sensible laws to limit the availability of personalized weapons for mass destruction.

But the website of Manitoba-based Wolverine Supplies quickly corrects that misimpression, as it prompts me to load up my online shopping cart with a collection of “combat-proven” assault rifles.

The Wolverine website features a section called “packing in pink,” with a drawing of a sultry, bare-midriffed young woman sporting a handgun, amid an array of pink accessories.

The Wolverine site has all the consumer breeziness of online bookseller Amazon.ca, making it easy to forget you’re not dealing with books but rather high-powered weapons which have little use unless you’re planning to wipe out a SWAT team. 

The Wolverine website features a section called “packing in pink,” with a drawing of a sultry, bare-midriffed young woman sporting a handgun, amid an array of pink accessories.

Certainly the website promotes the fun of guns: “Now that you’ve got your new firearm you’ve been waiting for, you just want to go out and shoot it!” The website advises you to read the instruction manual first.

Shopping on the Wolverine website, it’s easy to forget that semi-automatic assault rifles, which allow the shooter to fire at every squeeze of the trigger, are machines designed explicitly to kill humans in warfare. They are not suitable for hunting, unless the intention is to pump bullets into a forest in the hope that a deer nestled among the trees might be caught napping. Quite the sport.

All this suggests that the intense Canadian political focus on the federal gun registry may have ultimately been a distraction from an even bigger gun issue — the ready availability of combat weapons in Canada.

The website also features night vision scopes and dummy suppressors (often converted  into silencers). Peace researcher Peter Langille notes these accessories are not used in hunting or target practice, but are helpful for killing people quietly after dark from a distance.

All this suggests that the intense Canadian political focus on the federal gun registry may have ultimately been a distraction from an even bigger gun issue — the ready availability of combat weapons in Canada.

I happened to see a large selection of them on display under a glass counter at a sports and hunting store last summer in rural Nova Scotia. That store wasn’t even on the list of Wolverine’s 42 affiliated retail outlets across Canada.

This indicates that Canadian gun control laws are considerably weaker than most of us have been lulled into believing.

Canadian purchasers of assault weapons and handguns are required to take a 10-hour course which, according to an Ontario government website “will allow students the opportunity to extensively handle and load the three major restricted action types.”

The course also teaches students about “social and ethical responsibilities.” That’s all very nice but it’s hard to imagine that “ethical responsibilities” are top of mind for someone intent on opening fire at a local school.

Canadian purchasers also must obtain a gun license which screens for violent history. Obviously this can’t weed out those with apparently normal backgrounds, as is often the case with first-time mass murderers.

We tend to think of the hopelessness of the US situation, where the gun lobby wields such extraordinary power. But this airbrushes the growing power of the Canadian gun lobby, which consists of gun manufacturers and retailers, individual hunters and collectors as well as the lobby’s political arm, the Harper government.

The lobby showed the extent of its political muscle in killing something as sensible as the gun registry — not just preventing a registry from being established but actually dismantling one that Canadians had paid close to a billion dollars to create.

That same lobby is now insisting that it’s heartless to talk about gun control at a time when we should be mourning and hugging our kids.

Accordingly, most of us will confine ourselves to grieving the senseless school slaughter, while others — right here in Canada – will be loading assault weapons into their shopping carts.

About Linda McQuaig


Linda McQuaig is a journalist and author. Her most recent book is The Trouble with Billionaires, (co-authored with Neil Brooks). This column originally appeared in The Toronto Star. eMail: linda@lindamcquaig.com

Website: lindamcquaig.com

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  One Response to “Canadians are buying assault rifles too”

  1. I am a vet, and I am appalled that weapons we were trained to use in warfare are being considered as the current manly toy. The brainwashing is subtle; not that there is absolutely no reasonable use in civilian society for these "recreational" toys, but, the idea that every modern "must have the latest SELF DEFENCE" plaything. The "freedom" to be ABLE to kill people was NOT the freedom we were defending in Canada's military. 
    I am old enough to have grown through my teens with a 22. I was provided with a few rounds to try to pick off the hawks that harrassed the chicken yard, but God forbid a few 20 or 50 round clips! I qualified as a "sniper" in the airbourne, where we learned to husband every round. Acuracy was important. We learned that spraying bullets wildly was highly inacurate and wasteful. Besides we had to carry those heavy magazines, and were very conscious of extra weight, even though we were in excellent shape. I believe our society has been too open to the propaganda from the USA, their John Wayne idea of the "rugged individual," the vacuous unfeeling psychopath "making his day" by killing people is an out of date fantasy. Too many videos pushing this idea as a game, and too many violent movies glorifying the blood and guts heros. They are not heros, they are sicko and need serious help.