Don't blame violent crime on firearms

Kamloops Daily News
January 26, 2013 01:00 AM

Last week Mr. Koopmans used his position to put forth his ill-informed views concerning "assault Rifles". Were it not for the fact that Canada already prohibits so-called "assault Rifles" from private ownership, his position might have warranted some reflection, but instead it merely generates anger and histrionics towards a problem that simply does not exist. Should we prohibit them "harder"?

Today Koopmans has now taken the more extremist stand that all guns should be banned, and why? Because he didn't care for the reaction his journalism created towards him personally. He has tried to play the martyr by telling us he owns firearms himself.

In spite of Mr. Koopmans narrow and ill-informed views, firearms are used and enjoyed responsibly by hundreds of thousands of shooting enthusiasts in this country. In the sports of "Target Rifle" and "F-Class shooting" (a form of long distance shooting that is exploding in international popularity that was created right here in Kamloops) the participants are, by and large made up by educated, responsible, law-abiding people from all walks of life. BC and Kamloops both have a long and distinguished provenance in shooting sports. The BC Rifle Association is BC's oldest non-profit association, dating back more than 100 years.

In Kamloops, we have physicians, lawyers, business people, retirees, and folks with all manner of backgrounds that actively participate in organized shooting.

None of these people equates the use of firearms with violence or with killing. Long distance precision shooting is a highly technical pursuit. The "quarry" is a small black circle of paper on a white paper background. The implements of their sport are purpose built, heavy (up to 22 pounds) and would be utterly impractical to use in anything but a prone, supported position, or off a special shooting bench.

Many, many hours go into the fine tuning of these rifles, and into their ammunition. The notion of simply locking them up at a gun club is asinine. Mr. Koopman's views make about as much practical sense as banning golf.

It is obtuse and frankly ignorant to blame violent crime on firearms, and it is hopelessly idealistic to think that by simply banning firearms in Canada, that violent acts will simply disappear. Prohibition does not work. It did not work with alcohol or tobacco, and it is an abysmal failure with drugs.

I do not endorse the idea of firearms being carried as weapons of self-defence. Our current laws are sensible, safe and effective and that is the point I wish to make most. There are many things much more readily available than firearms (cigarettes for one) that serve little or no useful purpose, and which do nothing but cause harm. Living near a lake, I see jet skis as noisy, polluting, and dangerous (because often combined with alcohol and testosterone). I can also find arguments against alcohol, skydiving, fireworks, snow mobiles, 500 horsepower muscle cars and motorcycles, but above all, I respect the freedom of people to choose to own, use and enjoy them.

Firearms are fun and their ownership is a privilege. I cannot abide by ignorance and misinformation being given such free editorial license to promote personal views, fear and animosity. I thought this paper was better than that.



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