Montréal, 4 août 2001  /  No 86  
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Scott Carpenter is a freelance writer who lives, works and plays in Dawson Creek, BC.
by Scott Carpenter
          As a hunter I am accustomed to the practice of hanging trophies – pictures, antlers or otherwise – from the walls of my home. But a trophy is not always what it seems. It is not always the largest head or the heaviest beast but rather they are the creatures that have challenged me the most – either physically or mentally – thus leaving an indelible impression in my memory. 
          Indeed, for me trophies come in all shapes and sizes. For example, I have a ragged set of average sized moose antlers hanging in the entry way of my home that I am especially proud of – not because of their size (which is not impressive to begin with) but because of the patience and the time it took to harvest the animal and the major trials and tribulations I endured while getting the meat out of the bush.
The beginning of the end 
          And before I am too old to go afield any more, I will see one more trophy hang from the walls of my home. I have a special place reserved over the mantle of my wood stove for Canada's Firearms Act. For now it is stored neatly away in my filing cabinet but when the law is dead and gone I will remove the giant tomb from its resting place and put it in a frame on the wall. A plaque beneath it will read « Here Lies Tyranny. Slain at Last. » 
          Fortunately there is ample evidence to suggest that the time for me to purchase the plaque and dust off the frame is not so far away. Take for example the British Columbia Firearms Center's recent decision to cut back on staff and hours. What used to be an 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM operation now runs regular business hours, is short staffed and has certain departments closed or running a skeleton crew on weekends. 
          Given that the deadline to register all firearms in Canada is quickly approaching and given that hundreds of thousands of applicants have thus far not received their licenses (and are therefore instant criminals purely of the government's making) let alone begun registering their guns we can only assume one thing: the end is near. In fact, when I recently questioned one employee of the center about the security of her job her response was less than enthusiastic. All she could say was she « couldn't talk about it ». 
          Plagued with computer problems (constant breakdowns), a growing work load made almost purely of new firearms being brought into the country and being sold in Canadian businesses and the growing realization that Canadians – despite the government's propaganda – are not complying with the law as expected moral seems to be low at our local center for people control. 
          By the governments own estimates some 300 000 gun owners out of 2.8 million have not applied for licenses. These numbers – which even by the governments earlier studies are terribly low (some studies show there may be as many as five to seven million gun owners in Canada... for you American readers that's roughly 17 to 25 percent of our population) – reveal a wonderful reality: large percentages of Canadians will not comply with the Liberal's evil laws. 
     « Bill C-68 has been a wake up call for the people of Canada and has helped to spawn such things as separatist movements in the West, calls for political reform in Ottawa and a return to our tradition of respect for individuals and their property. »
          But even more interesting is the effect this exercise has had on many Canadian's view of the law itself. Gone are the days of blind obedience and timidity before the state. Bill C-68 has been a wake up call for the people of Canada (particularly rural residents) and has helped to spawn such things as separatist movements in the West, calls for political reform in Ottawa and a return to our tradition of respect for individuals and their property. 
          It is true that C-68 has done what no other law could have: it has created a Canadian counter culture and has contributed – to the denial and perhaps the astonishment of the Liberal establishment – to the Americanization of our society itself. 
          And so I drink a toast, to the beginning of the end. It can't come soon enough for me. 


          On this same topic of gun control... 

          Poetry: there is no other way to describe Jeff Snyder's new book on the ethics of gun control called Nation of Cowards. It is elegant in its simplicity, powerful in its consistency and if I wasn't a libertarian and already opposed to state sponsored public schooling I'd be lobbying the government to include this book in every high school curriculum across the land. 
          But if you think you'll find detailed statistical arguments about why the gun control lobby is out to lunch you'd better think again. In fact, if you think this book is really about gun control at all then you'll be disappointed. Snyder says It's not about the guns people, it's about liberty and responsibility. 
          And this is where Snyder shines. He has the innate ability to cut directly through the crap on both sides of the gun debate and manages, almost effortlessly, to get right to the crux of the argument. Indeed, Nation of Cowards asks the most important and fundamental question of all (and answers it too): « Are we slaves or are we free and independent human beings? » 
          Snyder's conclusion: we are born free. Our rights – all of them – are not granted nor are they subject to interpretation by the courts or the legislature. They are ours, there for the taking... if we'll have them. 
          In his essay « The Unbearable Lightness of Rights, » Snyder states: « Individual rights are yours, they are in your possession, but they live only if you live them, by acting upon them without let or leave from government... They require no positive act of government to make them real or meaningful, or to "protect" them, because in each instance all they require of government is that it leave you alone, that government do nothing. » 
          But rights, as Snyder so aptly notes, also entail responsibilities or, as Thomas Paine once wrote: « Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it. » The fact of the matter is we have arrived at the state our societies are in because we have handed the responsibilities that are the foundation for our freedom over to the government itself. Ultimately, I wonder if we are not so much a nation of cowards as we are a nation of shirkers? Lazy, complacent and unwilling to face the truth we have managed – over a period of centuries – to create our own modern leviathan. 
          But fear not. There is a way out. By reclaiming our responsibilities we can rebuild the free nations we once took pride in. In his final essay on revolution Snyder writes about this reclamation: « If we wish to reclaim our rights we must begin by reclaiming our responsibilities. If we wish to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, we must begin by declaring that now we will govern ourselves. For with responsibility comes freedom. » 
          At the very least Snyder has set a new stage for the debate on gun control. At the most he has revealed a stark, naked and painful truth: Freedom starts with taking care of ourselves and our responsibilities. Until we wake up and take control of all aspects of our lives – security included – demons such as gun control will continue to haunt us. I don't know about you but I call that clarity. 
          Buy the book. It's available from Accurate Press at 1-800-374-4049. Unless you're a whining liberal thug you won't be disappointed. 
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