My last post was a rave about (arguably) the fourth most annoying aspect of Canada, that being Canadian drivers. This rant will take aim at number three, as per the title. Numbers one and two may or more likely may not be addressed at some future time, as moaning about them violates Rule 1 set out on the first line of the Serenity Prayer – “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…”. One and two of course, are Canadian Winter and the Canada Revenue Agency. Maybe we can change winter – keep on burning those fossil fuels folks – but forget about changing CRA. Old joke outdated by history on 2 May 2011: “If Osama Bin Laden owed money to the CRA he would be in chains already”.
But I digress. I was intending to blog about firearms and Canadian firearms laws. A desperate and deadly thing that makes people regret being born, ruins their lives and tears the heart from anyone attempting to live a sensible and worthwhile existence. Yeah that’s right – that’ s the Canada Revenue Agency. I am supposed to be writing about firearms.
Canada of course, has a gun culture not dissimilar to the United States, just not as extreme – or perhaps best expressed as more ‘polite’. In the US of course, firearms laws differ markedly from State to State under the overarching 2nd amendment ‘Right to Bear Arms’. In Canada they are largely under Federal jurisdiction and so vary only slightly from Province to Province.
Since the 1930s, a license has been required to own handguns and since the 70s they have also been required for long guns. All very sensible in my view, as it means that anyone who wishes to acquire a firearm must take some fairly simple training, pass a test or tests and go through a background check including a spousal safety review. Rather different than the US where even in the wake of the Newtown massacre it is still possible in many states to acquire a firearm with no background check or even an effective identity check at all (the ‘gun show’ loophole). No training is necessary in most of the US to acquire a firearm (unless you want a concealed carry permit) and that explains the high numbers of accidental shootings – a lot of US gun owners haven’t the faintest clue about firearm handling or safety and it shows.
There are currently just under 2 million licensed firearms owners in Canada – about five percent of the population. Following on from significantly stricter controls which were introduced by the Federal Liberals in the 1990s, the percentage of households admitting to owning at least one firearm dropped from about 22% in 1996 to about 16% in 2005. The stricter registration requirements introduced in the 1990s were deeply unpopular in rural Canada and the wide open spaces of the West and it was estimated that as many as 5,000,000 long guns were not registered as required by the 1990s legislation, making millions of Canadians potentially liable to serious criminal charges.
The Conservative Federal government did away with the unpopular and ineffective long gun registry last year. It is not my intention to deal with these complex and detailed political matters in this rant – there is a good article here which goes into far too much detail.
Rather, my intention is to set out some of the absurdities that have resulted from the Canadian Firearms laws. The general point would be that unnecessarily complex laws often result in absurdities.
There are three classifications of firearms in Canada: non-restricted (long guns including most rifles and shot guns), restricted (most handguns), and prohibited (fully automatic weapons and a whole host of handguns – mainly small calibres and short barrelled pistols and revolvers). Unless you had a ‘prohibited’ weapon license in 1991 and were grandfathered you cannot get one now.
So – Question 1 – why is this prohibited?
When this is just restricted? They both fire the same cartridge, the difference is barrel length.
This is an evil baby-killing assault rifle and is a restricted weapon – it’s a Chinese made AR-15 clone and you get it in Canada for CAD $650 (plus tax of course). You need a special license that requires additional tests – you have to transport it cased and locked up and you can only fire it on a licensed range:
Despite that huge magazine, it is limited to only five rounds capacity in Canada – that 30 rounder needs to be pinned to five (but I’ll get back to that absurdity below).
Here’s another evil baby-killing ‘scary black rifle’ – also restricted:This is a ‘Bushmaster,’ same manufacturer as the AR-15 used at Newtown. Fires the same cartridge as the Chinese AR-15 above, Nato 5.56 mm – mags on this also have to be pinned to 5 in Canada. This rifle can be non-restricted as well, simply by replacing the stock 16.5 inch barrel with an 18.5 inch barrel.
That’s right, add 2 inches to the barrel and suddenly it is a sporting rifle. You can chuck it in the back of the pickup (as long as it is out of sight) you can strap it onto your ATV and roar around the countryside and shoot it anywhere it is legal to shoot any firearm.
Here’s a non-restricted that fires the considerably more powerful NATO 7.62 mm cartridge. Same rails, same scary black look – but this is a ‘good’ gun. Note that it is sold with an apparently smaller magazine – same five round limit.And here’s what I have in the gun safe for when the zombies start to rise – non-restricted, fires the same cartridge as the top two AND ALSO LEGALLY TAKES TEN ROUND MAGAZINES (I’ll get back to that)!!!
In my view the worst absurdities have to do with magazine capacity. The basic rule is – semi-auto centerfire rifles (ie everything bigger than .22 LR Rim-fire – maximum five rounds. So either of these magazines below, which will fit all of the Nato 5.56 mm rifles above, have to be pinned to 5 only. The one on the left is supposed to take 100 and the one on the right, 30.
But why would you buy them – especially the one on the left that retails at CAD $299 (except to take the pins out thereby creating a prohibited device and risking 5 years in jail)?
The pistol on the left is a Rock Island LAR pistol – it is a restricted weapon in Canada, chambered in Nato 5.56 mm and since it is a pistol – magazine capacity is limited (as all handguns in Canada) to 10 rounds. However, the magazines will fit in all of the Nato 5.56 rifles shown above – including my non-restricted Benelli MR-1. And it is legal to use them in these rifles. So you can actually have a legal ten rounds instead of the five for rifles that do not have the benefit of using these legal pistol magazines. What’s more, as shown in the photo on the right above, there is a simple little coupler available that links two together – so you can actually have ten and ten legally loaded in the rifle at any time (with a bit of practice you can flip the mags in about a second).
There are now a whole pile of long barrelled carbines being sold in Canada that take pistol magazines and therefore can have ten rounds.
In my view, this is all simply absurd. Far too much regulation and far too much control, and far too many tax dollar paid burocrats adminstering all of this. No wonder the Canada Revenue Agency are such a bunch of pricks – they need to be to extort the money to pay for this sort of shit.
And finally, for rim-fire rifles like my non-restricted Ruger SR-22 as shown below – there is no limit on the magazine capacity. That’s a 50 round drum in the rifle and the banana mags on the deck are a mere 30 rounds apiece:
That’s okay though – this is a ‘good’ rifle not like the bad ones above.