Koopmans: Canada can and should ban guns

Last week I suggested it's time Canada ban semi-automatic firearms in order to rid society of a scourge - military-style assault weapons - that serve no public good. The piece brought surprisingly vehement reaction.

"If only we could ban hypocritical morons like you this country would be better off," said one reader.

"We don't have a gun problem in this country. We have a problem with narrow minded idiots like you," said someone else.

Which makes me wonder - what's the allure of these kind of guns? Why is it that some are so attached to them they lash out angrily as soon as anyone questions whether such ownership is necessary? Are we not allowed to ask about the ownership and use of such things?

Society should be concerned that many see their firearms as more than a tool or hobby. The fact that some even suggest they need to guard their liberty against government tyranny by building a personal arsenal is frightening.

Like I said last week, I own three guns - a bolt-action rifle and two pump shotguns, which I use to hunt. It's the hunting I like - not the firearms. I appreciate the utility in my guns. It's much easier to hunt mule deer with a rifle than a bow and I've never heard of anyone who's knocked down a duck with a rock.

I'm not emotionally attached to my guns, however, and if Canada decides to ban pump shotguns - as politicians did in Australia in 1996 - I'd hand mine over. A double- or single-barrel shotgun is all I need. Or, if the state required, I'd plug their magazines to limit the number of rounds I can load. I don't need more than two at a time. Ever.

I will never own a "tactical rifle," which is a machine designed for military purpose. They are tools of warfare, and while it might be "fun" to po-pop-pop targets with them, they were designed to shoot people.

Some of those who commented on my column suggested that we have the right to own what we please in a free country like Canada. Of course, that's wrong - we don't. There are many things that the state has the ability and need to restrict, like firearms, regardless of how innocently individuals intend to use them.

It doesn't matter how enthusiastic you are about shooting targets, you won't get to do it (legally anyway) in Canada with an automatic machine gun, or a rocket launcher.

No one here will let you play with grenades, no matter how hard you promise it's just for fun. There is nothing that prevents Canada from denying ownership of weapons like semi-automatic tactical rifles.

I say it again, such guns need to be banned. They have been central to mass murders in countries around the world, including Canada, Australia, England, Norway, and of course, the U.S. Such killings - as uncommon as they are -take a tremendous toll, by robbing us of our collective public safety and security, as well as our sense of humanity.

When killers walk into schools and theatres and slaughter people by the score, none of us are left unaffected.

Do we need to wait for our own Sandy Hook to take action, as the U.S, is finally trying to do and as Australia did long ago? I hope not. The price of such inaction is too great to contemplate.

So, for all those who believe your playful whim to own an AR-15 is more important than society's right to feel safe from random acts of terrible violence - think again. It's not. And calling names won't change that.


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