Unimaginable

DATE: June 13

TITLE: Unimaginable

As a Canadian I find yesterday’s carnage at Pulse in Orlando impossible to comprehend. As a transwoman, I find it appalling that so many of my brothers and sisters were targeted by what appears to be a deranged young man. Apparently during the rampage inside Pulse, an LGBT friendly club, the gunman took the time to call 9 1 1 and profess his allegiance to Daesh. As a result, the authorities are calling this both a hate crime and terrorism.

Reports I’ve read on news sites state that within the past two weeks he was able to legally purchase the AR-15 assault rifle he used during his attack. This despite having been investigated by the FBI on suspicion of having terrorist sympathies. Why he was able to legally purchase the weapon isn’t my question though. My question is: Why does anyone other than the military or law enforcement need an assault weapon of any kind?

Don’t give me that line about how you need it to protect your family and property because I’m not going to buy it. You could do that with a .22. Yes, I know the AR-15 comes in .223 calibre, but your basic .22 isn’t as deadly as the AR. Hunting? Unless you get into a firefight with your prey, or you plan to turn that deer into hamburger right there in the forest, an ordinary deer rifle will do. No, the AR-15 and its cousin the Kalashnikov are designed for one thing only – killing humans.

The NRA’s oft repeated mantra about a “good guy with a gun” also doesn’t hold water. The military and FBI, for one, constantly take training and refresher courses on what to do when there is gunfire in their vicinity. The average gun owner doesn’t do that. They go out to the range and fire off a clip or two at a paper target and feel they can handle anything. Guess what? They can’t. They can’t because that paper target isn’t shooting back at them. Without constant training and reinforcement, when the bullets start flying, they’re going to freeze and their body will be found with the weapon still holstered. Should they actually manage to draw the weapon and let go a couple of rounds, chances are they’d hit innocent bystanders.

America, and there is no delicate way to put this, when it comes to your gun culture, you’re fucked in the head. For example, not that long ago in Michigan, two men got caught up in a road-rage incident. They both pulled into a parking lot and rather than settle the dispute with words or fists, they both pulled out weapons and shot each other. A woman somewhere else shot up a Walmart parking lot trying to stop a shoplifter. America, isn’t it about time you realized your love of firearms has turned your country back into the Wild West of the 1870’s. To put that in some historical perspective, the Gunfight at the OK Corral took place in 1881 and Wyatt Earp, who was in that gunfight, died in 1927 – less than 100 years ago.
So tell me America, isn’t it time to halt the sale of weapons intended solely for hunting other humans? Other than to satisfy some egotistical need, do you really need an assault weapon? When you purchase a weapon, training should consist of more than how to load the damn thing. That training should include identifying your target before you let loose.

How many times have we read or heard of some homeowner being awakened by a noise in the middle of the night, grabbing his weapon and then firing at an unidentified shadow figure only to discover he’s just killed his son or daughter?

Safe storage should also be a mandatory part of that training. I can’t count the number of stories I’ve read about a toddler finding daddy’s gun and killing or injuring that toddler’s playmate or sibling. Which brings up another question: What’s the trigger tension like when a four-year-old can fire the weapon? Second question: What the hell is daddy doing leaving his handgun lying around with the safety off and one up the spout?

America, let’s be honest, you don’t really need an assault rifle, but since you’ve got one, let me as this: what’s next on your wishlist – a Barrett .50?

Cat.

Information – don’t leave home without it

I found the following in my Facebook newsfeed yesterday: Police Called as American Tourist “Shocked” to Discover Canada has its “Own Currency” from a site called “Failmuch.com fmnews”.

According to the article, a tourist from Indiana was in Vancouver and purchased something in a store with US funds and received her change in Canadian money, which is usual. It didn’t state if they gave her exchange. She apparently freaked out at the Canadian money and demanded they give her “real” (US) money and the police had to be called. This article appears to be fake for various reasons.

She is quoted as saying she thought Canada, or at least British Columbia, was just another state, like Washington. Not buying it. Surely she would have realized something was amiss when she had to produce a passport to clear Canada Customs at Vancouver International Airport.

While the story is phony, unfortunately the attitude detailed is not unusual. I am fond of a show called “Border Security” which covers the activities at several British Columbia ports of entry. These ports, especially the land crossing at Douglas Highway, make for some “shake my head” moments because Douglas Highway is the main port for Americans driving to Alaska or Port Roberts Washington. One incident in particular stands out.

A couple from Texas wanted to drive to Alaska. Unfortunately he neglected to check on Canada’s gun laws before he left home. At customs he admitted he was carrying a sidearm. When told he couldn’t bring it into the country, his response was “I thought carry laws applied everywhere.” Dummy, they may apply anywhere in Texas, but you’re now in a foreign country that doesn’t necessarily recognize American, especially American state, law. The weapon was confiscated for later destruction and he was fined. I’m not sure if this incident was the result of ignorance of Canadian law, or simple American arrogance.

All too often on this show, people from California will be stopped and found to be in possession of marijuana, claiming they have a state issued permit to use it. Sorry dude, that piece of paper is worthless in Canada. The usual result of this is arrest for smuggling drugs into Canada.

People, and by people I mean Americans intending to visit to Canada, before you plan your trip, take some time and get some information on Canadian laws. You can’t bring your sidearm into the country. A long gun may be permitted provided you complete the proper paperwork and it isn’t a type banned. In other words, leave the AR 15 at home unless you want it seized. Medical marijuana permits are another thing. They are only valid in the state of issue and mean nothing to Canada Customs. Bringing weed into the country will restrict your site-seeing to the inside of a jail cell.

Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Neither is the arrogance I see displayed by so many people on “Border Security”, who seem to feel that being American gives them leave to do whatever they want. Doesn’t work that way and that arrogance could land you in the cell next to the drug smuggler.

Learn something about our laws before you come. Oh yes, don’t lie on the entry documents or to the Customs inspector because they could refuse you entry.

Other than that, welcome to Canada and enjoy your stay.

Cat

Why is this a good idea?

In the past few days I’ve read much about open carry laws in various states. As a Canadian, the whole concept of being able to wander around with a weapon either over my shoulder or on my hip is foreign to me. Obviously I have some questions and (if you’ve read my postings before, you know this) some observations on this practice.

Who came up with the idea that allowing citizens to carry firearms openly was a good thing, other than the NRA of course? Was this the scheme of some politician up for re-election, trying to curry favour with gun owners and the NRA?

The NRA keeps repeating, like a mantra “a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun.” Sorry, that sounds good but the concept doesn’t hold water because of its simplicity. Purchasing a weapon, either a handgun or a long gun does not automatically confer the ability to handle this weapon properly or proficiently. (And why do you need an assault rifle anyway – have the deer started shooting back?) You can waste hours and boxes of ammunition on firing ranges honing your aiming skills, but that isn’t going to prepare you for “real life experiences”. In the case of the recent San Bernardino shootings, a “good guy with a gun”, despite all bravado (“if I’d been there it would have been different”), would have made no difference at all. Without training, a “good guy with a gun” would freeze. There’s a great sea of difference between firing at a paper target on a range and having your intended target shooting back at you. The body of your “good guy with a gun” would probably be found by the police with his weapon still holstered.

There have been cases from the past year where a “good guy with a gun” has shot and killed the victim of a crime – in one case a car-jacking – while the “bad guys with guns” got away unscathed. So much for untrained people with deadly weapons doing the right thing.

From Oregon comes a report of a man, openly carrying a pistol, being robbed at gunpoint for said weapon. Oregon has open carry laws. From Michigan comes a story of two men, taking advantage of that state’s concealed carry laws, shooting and killing each other in a case of road rage.

Despite the claims of the NRA and various lawmakers, the right to carry weapons, either concealed or openly does not make us safer. In fact just the opposite is true. Disputes that may have been settled with an apology or, in extreme cases, a lawsuit could now be settled with a weapon (see the road rage incident above). Carrying a weapon has been shown to make the person carrying it more aggressive, therefore they may feel the only way to resolve a dispute is lethal force.

So, can anyone tell me what is the logic behind all these open carry laws?

I understand regulations regarding purchasing and owning a weapon vary by state and may not be sufficiently strict. But then again, the US Constitution affects just about everything (from what I’ve seen) so sellers may not be able to screen the purchaser as well as they’d like. That leaves training.

From what I’ve seen on various documentaries, it can be a simple matter to pick up your weapon after a specified waiting period, receive some brief instruction on how to load it and you’re on your own. As I wrote, you can spend time on a range learning your weapon and perfecting your aim, but that’s all it does. You need either law enforcement or military training – and lots of it – before your body will know how to react in a real life or death situation. And it will have to be an automatic reaction because when someone starts shooting at you, there is no time to analyse the situation. But how many gun owners actually have, or get, such training? I received such training during my time in the Canadian Army, but it was so long ago I wouldn’t trust myself to react properly now.

Personally I think a psychological assessment should also be done because, let’s be honest here, not every gun owner is mentally stable.

From everything I’ve seen and read, open or concealed carry is really nothing more than a recipe for disaster.

Can someone please justify the need for such laws for me?

Since this is my first posting of 2016, I wish everyone a healthy and prosperous year. I also remind you to hug an artist, no matter what their field of endeavour, because we need love too.

Cat.

What’s it going to take?

Another school shooting today.  This time a student was shot in a high school in Taft, California.  Police have a suspect in custody.  Not a month ago, we were told of the horror in Newtown, Conn.

What is it going to take before Americans have finally had enough of hearing of children – the future of the country – being gunned down in what are supposed to be safe places?  When will the majority finally say “No more, no more will we put up with the slaughter of the innocents”?

I can hear the arguments now that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to bear arms.  Well, for those who either haven’t read it, or have forgotten it, here’s the exact wording of that amendment:

Amendment II

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

This is taken from the website of Cornell University Law School.  Just a little different from the blanket “right to bear arms” most people quote.

I’m Canadian and we have much stricter gun laws than our neighbour to the south, so perhaps I don’t really understand how the Second Amendment can be used to justify packing a Glock when grocery shopping.  Yes, we also suffer from violence in schools, but the last shooting I can recall was about five years ago. Yes, there have been other incidents, mainly in Montreal: Ecole Polytechnique, where 14 female engineering students were shot, and Dawson College, where Anastasia Desouza was killed by some nut with a gun.  Yes, I also remember the names of the shooters, but refuse to use them.

Students here in Toronto are more likely to use knives on each other.  In fact, a student at Riverdale Collegiate in Toronto was stabbed just yesterday.

The pronouncement by the NRA shortly after Newtown, “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” (I may not have that quote exactly right), doesn’t really hold water.  To my mind putting more guns on the street would be the armament equivalent of throwing gasoline on a raging fire.  It’s already a problem. More guns, especially in the hands of people not properly trained in the use of firearms – including when that use is appropriate – are not going to solve the problem.  I also recall Mayor Bloomberg of New York, in a press conference recently, turning the NRA’s words back on them when he announced the shootings of five police officers with the words “sometimes the good guys get shot”.

As I wrote above, the gun laws in Canada are much stricter.  Of course we have a problem with illegal firearms.  According to reports, many of these weapons on the street are stolen in the US and smuggled across the border.  More guns on American streets just gives these thieves more places to steal weapons because you know not everyone will store that weapon properly.

How many more children and innocent adults are going to have to die by gunfire before “gun control” becomes more than a course in handling a weapon and becomes a serious topic for not only discussion, but action?

Cat.