Without debate in Parliament, and against the wishes of experts who testified, Canada has moved to ban semi-automatic rifles.
Before I delve into the folly of this action, I wish to make note of the difficulty in even having this conversation. There’s a phenomenological impasse.
Phenomenology is about concepts in our minds. For example, I had a couch — the first piece of furniture I ever owned when I moved out of home. My grandparents owned it, and when I was home, sick from school, I was at their place, on the couch, watching Bob Barker and eating soup. That couch has a lot of Christmas memories for me. It was my childhood, it was my adulthood, I loved that couch.
When my ex-wife moved in, she saw a beaten down, worn out, dank, piece of furniture. We didn’t have the same concept in mind when we looked at the same object. We couldn’t discuss the couch responsibly, or what to do with it, because the ideas in our minds were too different.
The gun debate is the same thing. Inner-city socialists see an instrument of death. They see these objects on the news, with mass shootings, school shootings, gang violence — they see death and destruction at the mere mention of guns.
The pro-gun crowd, usually rural, sees self-defense from dangerous humans and animals. They see a tool, which helps them get food. My AR-15-firing sister sees gender equality. There’s a lot of guys that can push her around, and to them, I say good luck with that.
Wesley Salmon made the point that we can’t even turn to objective data to help us. We have biases that prevent us from looking at data. We find different ways of interpreting it, justifying it, based on our biases.
There won’t be an objective analysis of Japan, where gun control has worked, or Russia where it hasn’t. There won’t be a conversation about Switzerland where minimal gun control has worked or Florida where it hasn’t.
Nonetheless, here are my contributions to the debate as to why gun control measures don’t survive rational scrutiny:
1) It Accomplishes Nothing
New Zealand has 10% compliance with its recent ban, and that number is likely high compared to Canada’s gun-owning community. Not only will it fail to accomplish anything, but it will also make matters worse in terms of the stated goals of this ban.
Gun owners now possess illegal firearms, and so they have no added benefit to refrain from converting semi-automatics into fully automatics or replacing 5-round mags with 30-round mags. There’s also nothing to prevent 3D printing machine guns. Turning a legal thing into an illegal thing only forces it into the black market, and much like narcotics, this has terrible consequences. Americans view gun ownership as a right, Canadians viewed it as more of a responsibility, now it’s a crime. This was a foolish mistake that will likely cause the opposite of the desired outcome.
2) Irresponsible Use of Statistics
There are endless memes suggesting gun control works to curb murder rates, and they’re highly misleading. They usually include some Scandinavian nations (with high gun control but low murders), but omit Switzerland (with low gun control and low murders) or Russia (high gun control, high murders), but are sure to include Japan (high gun control, low murder). They often irresponsibly talk of Australia’s ban on semi-automatics diminishing murder rates but ignore that their murder rates were on a downward trend for over a decade prior to that, which the ban actually briefly reversed.
3) Tyranny is Lurking Around Every Corner
Governments, even democracies, occasionally become tyrannical. Passion for gun ownership has nothing to do with hunting or target practice. North Korea, Rwanda, Armenia, Germany, Ukraine, China, and Hong Kong today, had a local population unable to fight back. With increasing talk about hostility toward minorities, especially Muslims, in the AfD in Germany, or various factions within the US, I would be unwilling to comply with a law such as this.
4) Impossibility of Enforcement
There are too many members of the military who won’t fight on this issue. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police doesn’t have the manpower or firepower to enforce the ban if gun owners refuse. There’s no meaningful way to enforce compliance and it’s likely the case that gun owners would fight back.
Guns are used for self-defense over 60,000 times a year in Canada (mostly against deadly animals). Something with meaningful firepower is needed to repel many of these animals. Also, in cases of self-defense within rural areas, a police station can be over an hour away.
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