Sunday, June 19, 2016

Canada Is Going After Your Guns

I had a conversation yesterday with a fellow who works as a Canadian customs agent in British Columbia (that's a Canadian province, for those who don't know), where many of the Americans who come across the border there are on their way to Alaska.  We'll call him 'Brad.'  Brad tells me that most of his job, all day, every day, is seizing guns.

Apparently, it is supposed that Canada will say nothing and do nothing if an American wants to keep his (or her, I suppose) full-automatic and semi-automatic firearm - rifles, handguns, machine pistols, ordnance of all sorts - in their trunks, glove boxes and backseats.  The most common excuse?  "Well, I was going to Alaska, so I'm not actually leaving the United States."

Surprisingly, we don't let them.

Brad explained that the moment they come through the gate, they are on Canadian soil; and as such, once the restricted and prohibited guns are found, they become the property of the Canadian government.  That's international law.  So the guns are seized and they are destroyed; they're NOT held and sent back to the owners.  Those guns are gone.

Most don't complain.  Most, Brad tells me, apologize for misunderstanding.  They thought the guns would be all right and they're sorry.  And so they give up their hundreds of dollars of property without any complaints.  The only ones that are a problem, Brad says, are those that have really excessive items, with outstanding heavy magazines and calibers.  Still, with 70 or 80 border guards around, trained to deal with any troubles, there's not much a crazy gun nut can do.  Brad says they've never actually had a violent incident associated with someone who had to give up their guns.

Sauce for the goose.  I continue to argue that the only solution to the problem in America is that the government should go after the guns.  We do.  Most civilized countries do.  When I hear an American (as I did on Real Time with Bill Maher just this morning) say something as idiotic as "There is no gun control law that has ever been proven to reduce gun crime," (Emily Miller is an idiot of the order that should be Trump's VP), I look at my own country.  We've had incidents here.  We don't have them every week.

I understand the reticence of the American government to pass a law to destroy guns.  I don't understand why ordinary, common citizens in America don't simply set up opportunities for large masses of people to get together in huge events and destroy guns en masse, for the good of their country.


Tim said...

I visited the Yukon, stopping for a few days in Dawson City, last summer. While there, I visited some of the various historical sites (virtually the whole town is owned by Parks Canada now, so there are many) and learned a related fact about the Klondike Gold Rush's border control, that being that the North-West Mounted Police set up a customs office complete with machine gun at the border in Chilkoot Pass, where American travelers entered Canada.

Just like today, the Canadians had a good few more regulations than the Americans, including, of course, on guns. And those confiscated guns would be destroyed, and to show for it, Dawson City, with a population of 40,000, went murder-free in 1898 right as the stampede began.

Just a point as to how Canada's had gun control before it was even a country, and it's worked out pretty damn well.

Jonathon said...

The reason you don't see common citizens creating opportunities to eliminate guns through individual action often is that those who want to see guns removed from society already have done that, to a greater and greater degree, while those who don't are seeing that trend and digging in deeper as a result.

There are more guns-per-person than ever in the US, but there is also a steady decline in the number of gun owners - that is, a smaller and smaller fraction of the population is becoming more and more heavily armed. The ones who haven't given up guns yet for the most part don't want to do so, ever.

So it will take government action to change anything here, and the will to take that action seems to be lacking in the face of the gun lobby and the myth-building our society has done around gun ownership.

Alexis Smolensk said...

From what I see in the media, Jonathan, I must agree with what you say in principle.

At the same time, I'm always a little bit certain that the majority is never in either camp. Like the steady winnowing out of tobacco users that we've seen these past forty years, I believe that most gun owners see events like in Florida and feel ashamed of themselves. They don't talk about that shame, they can't confess it; they're well aware that if they speak at all they're bound to be immediately associated with the crazies.

Shame makes people feel unable to speak. It undermines even the will to change, as stepping forward with a bunch of guns even to have them destroyed brings that shame to the fore. So they sit and do nothing. They don't get noticed. They're not part of the debate so they are ignored by the debate - and everything looks black and white like you describe.

Doug said...

On June 7, a motorist driving a pick-up truck plowed into a group of cyclists in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Should people who drive pick-ups be ashamed?

Should the people who belong to a certain religion feel shame that one of their own committed the crime in Orlando? Should Floridians feel shame that one of their citizens committed the crime? Perhaps they should feel shame because their politicians passed laws that made it illegal for one of those people at the bar to carry a firearm?

You say that those who have guns are ashamed, and therefore keep silent. Another reason, more likely, in my view, is that the people demanding firearms be destroyed or confiscated are not willing to listen to reasonable arguments from the other side. Why should I engage in a debate when my opponent has already made up his mind?

For the record, I own multiple firearms. I've never fired them in anger or self defense, and I never intend to do so. I have a permit to carry my pistol. I hope that's not too shocking.

Alexis Smolensk said...

The false equivalency argument.

On June 7, a driver in Kalamazoo did indeed drive into a group of cyclists, killing five. The cyclists were not gay or political, they were part of a group that participates in weekly bike rides during the summer. There are reports that the driver was driving erratically before the crash: Authorities have not said whether or not alcohol was involved or why the driver plowed into cyclists. The event is being treated as an accident.

We have no reports of people crossing the border into Canada expressing a desire to drive their pick-up trucks into cyclists or any other pedestrians. On the other hand, Americans do often express a desire to fire their guns. Trucks are very, very rarely used for target practice or to aim at specific persons of a given race, creed, national origin or generally existing as a human occupying a public space. Guns are clearly used for this purpose regularly. In fact, guns are actually designed and improved regularly in order to accomplish this purpose more proficiently.

While making equivalencies, let's add a few more.

Children rarely find a pick-up truck simply sitting around the house and use it to accidentally kill their family members.

Schools are rarely terrorized by persons driving a pick-up truck around the school hallways in an effort to kill fellow students.

Pick-up truck drivers are rarely able to trap more than a hundred people for four or more hours, while causing them to be terrified every minute for their lives.

It is very hard for a driver to carry a bag of ten or more pick-up trucks capable of killing up to 50 people.

It is also hard for several pick-up truck drivers to coordinate together in order to create the sort of terrorist attacks that have taken place in Paris of late.

While armies DO arrive on battlefields with trucks, usually they use these for carrying stuff, since GUNS are much more effective at killing things than trucks.

I continue to be surprised at what passes for "a reasonable argument," from those who seek to identify other materials on this planet as the equivalent of guns in their people-killing effectiveness.

Thankfully, the Canadians who will seize your gun at the border of THIS country don't care about "arguments." They care about SAFETY.

Spazalicious Chaos said...

I just want to point out that guns are machines designed to end a living thing at a distance accepted as "safe" by the user. However, that fact that a gun needs a user is just the things that prevent the destruction of guns from preventing violent crimes.

There are stats for both sides of the argument, but the stats I find seem to correlate less guns with a decrease in accidental death and suicide, but an increase in violent crime. Mass shootings don't happen in NRA conventions, military bases or biker bars. They instead seem to happen in places where there are people who are not supposed to have guns. The UK, which has passed laws to confiscate guns and restricts knife purchases to those who provide ID that proves they are over the age of 18, are seeing skyrocketing violent crime rates, despite these laws being passed to lower said violent crime rates.

The people in Orlando were targeted because they were unarmed AND gay. A similarly gay and armed crowd would not have been targeted in theory. Maybe people who identify as gay in the US census should be mailed a rainbow Glock 17 by Homeland Security? That certainly what my wife's trans girlfriend would like to see...

Alexis Smolensk said...

I want evidence of these "skyrocketing violent crime rates" in Britain (I think this is a made-up statistic). Then I want direct evidence that they are directly attributable to laws passed against guns and not merely two unconnected things happening at the same time. Finally, I notice you do not make the same argument in Canada, where we do have gun control and we don't have skyrocketing gun rates.

The last paragraph is an example of wish-fulfillment: gun proliferation = greater safety. We've already seen that theory disproved, as gun proliferation in America = a greater desire for random elements to use guns for sport attacks on other human beings. We wouldn't be creating defenders in the club, we'd be creating a greater opportunity for petty disputes to escalate into gun murders.

The rest of us in the world understand this perfectly.