Gun Contorll

This essay has a total of 1431 words and 6 pages.

Gun Contorll

Scholarly Essay: Gun Control


There has been considerable debate recently in Canada over the issue of gun control. The
Canadian parliament enacted the Firearms Act to enforce gun control by requiring gun
owners to register their firearms. Just recently, the government of Alberta lead in a
charge, including five other provinces and numerous pro-gun groups, complaining that the
law is unconstitutional and intrudes on provincial jurisdiction. They also claim that the
act infringes on property and civil rights that are guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of
Rights and Freedoms. Parliament contends that the government of Canada is within its
rights to protect public safety. Pro-gun control organizations, police chiefs and the City
of Toronto also back the Firearms Act. The enacting of the Firearms Act by the government
of Canada is legitimately constitutional and is within the jurisdiction of Parliament as
it only seeks to protect the well being of Canadians. Furthermore, this legislation does
not intrude on provincial jurisdiction because it is a representation of all Canadian's
rights.


The Canadian law that requires the licensing and registration of handguns has been around
since the 1930's. The new statute, enacted in 1995 is currently under heated debate, the
act extends the licensing and registration requirements to shotguns and rifles. Wendy
Cukier, president of the Coalition for Gun Control says, "More Canadians are killed with
rifles and shotguns every year than with handguns". The ultimate purpose of the Act
according to the government is to reduce firearm offences and violent crimes including
murder. Moreover, Cukier believes the real issue is saving lives, as licensing and
registration help make gun owners more accountable. She also points out a list of kids
killed with firearms- a boy shot at a birthday party, a Grade 3 student shot as his twin
played with a rifle. Gun control advocates may also highlight some other incidents
involving firearms including the 1989 massacre at Montreal's Ecole Polytechnique that
claimed the lives of fourteen women and the recent school shooting that killed a
fifteen-year old student. Ironically, the shooting occurred at a Taber, Alberta high
school, the same province that is leading a fight to strike down the Firearms Act as
unconstitutional.


On February 21 and 22 of this year, the Supreme Court of Canada was asked to rule whether
the toughest gun control laws ever passed in Canada was unconstitutional. The previously
mentioned incidents involving firearms were used to boost the case for gun control
advocates, including police chiefs, health and victims' groups and the City of Toronto.
Lawyers for the provinces involved and several pro-gun organizations claimed that "federal
legislation does nothing to make Canadians safer". Furthermore, they denounced the law as
"an intrusion on provincial jurisdiction". On the other hand, Graham Garton, lawyer for
the federal government, told the hearing that anti-gun control talk "makes for good
provincial politics". He says, "I think it's clear that Alberta and the challengers have
come forward with a political argument dressed up as a legal argument and the clothes just
don't fit." Roderick McLennan, lawyer for the Alberta government, countered that statement
saying, "I don't think we're putting forward a political argument at all."

The provinces against the legislation argue that the 1995 statute invades provincial
jurisdiction over property and civil rights. The government of Alberta claims that:

"Only Canada, the Women's Shelters and the Coalition (for gun control) argue that the
Firearms Act and related provisions under the Criminal Code are, in their entirety, within
the constitutional power of Parliament. All of the other interveners, with the exception
of Ontario, support Alberta's position that the licensing and registration provisions
infringe on the province's jurisdiction in relation to "property and civil rights" [under
s.92 (13) of the Constitution Act, 1867] to the extent that they relate to "ordinary
firearms". They argue that the impugned licensing and regulation provisions are, in their
essence, about regulation of property "simpliciter" and not about public safety or crime
prevention.


The government counters that it can use its criminal law powers to try to protect the
safety of Canadians. The comparison between firearms and motor vehicles can further
illustrate this point. Like firearms, motor vehicles are registered and licensed to owners
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