Frozen Fracas

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New Canadian gun org stirring debate

Dennis E. Florianby Dennis E. Florian
Gun Owners’ Resource Staff

Perhaps “stirring debate” is a bit of a mild way to put it. After several months of setting up shop, the Canadian Firearms Institute announced its official launch on February 3rd and it didn’t take long at all for a full-blown turd typhoon (this is a family website, after all) to roll in and settle north of the border.

In something less than 72 hours’ time, the uproar has risen to the level where observers can perhaps be excused of they can’t decide if it’s the End Of The World As We Know It®, the Second Coming Of Christ, or just another box office flop where all the best parts are in the commercials.Many have suggested that the birth of the new organization is a direct result of the frustration many Canadian gun owners feel over the seeming inaction of other advocacy groups, such as the Canadian Shooting Sports Association or the National Firearms Association.  Some local clubs, such as the Burlington Rifle and Revolver Club, have already elected to change their affiliations — in terms of insurance and membership provisions, at least — with rumours of more to follow. But the majority of Canadian gun owners who have heard the news so far seem to be singing from the same song sheet, and that is, “wait and see.” As one poster on CGN, a popular Canadian firearms discussion board, put it:

Message to CFI…………SHOW US WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR US. The operative key word is DO not say.

There’s been enough saying.

This, more than anything else, likely sums up the prevalent mindset amongst Canadian gun owners. South of the border, literally everyone and their dog knows exactly who the NRA is. Even if you’re reading this from Canada, you know who the NRA is. But if you ask the average Canadian on the street who the CSSA or the NFA are, you will more likely than not be met with a blank stare, and not much else. It is this lack of broad exposure that has led many gun owners in this country to feel as if their organizations aren’t actually doing anything much at all.

In defense of the existing organizations, it must be stressed that they insist most of what they do either happens behind the scenes, or is ignored by the national media (which, truth be told, has a long history of treating guns and their owners with stances ranging from apathy to hostility). The CSSA-CILA, after all, has launched an appeal with the Ontario Municipal Board, challenging the City of Toronto’s brick-headed ban on lawful shooting ranges and businesses. Try doing a Google news search on that; you’ll get nothing. There are also challenges being made to the SAP regulations and the 12(6) prohibited handgun case is due to land in front of a judge on May 20. But almost nobody hears about them. It’s true that the Canadian firearms community does need a more visible public face.

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Then there are those who roll their eyes and say, “Oh great, another org, like we weren’t fractured enough already.” Some are even outright hostile towards the new group, for reasons ranging from the sense of distrust that has become so deeply ingrained in gun-toting Canadians after years of government meddling in their lives, to accusations of membership raiding, to just plain frustration over further division of the Canadian gun community.

It’s true that getting Canadian gun owners and their advocacy groups to all get on the same page has always – at least as far back as I can remember – seemed something like herding cats.  Cats with guns and a bloody-minded sense of individuality. Contrary to popular belief, though, they do all have some things in common: they want to keep their guns, they want the government the hell out of their business and for a large part, they simply want to be left alone.

Sadly, I think that until some group steps up and gives them all what they want (one hell of a tall order, that), the fractious nature of the beast is simply going to continue indefinitely.

No matter how you slice it, the apple cart’s knocked over, that can’s open and the worms are everywhere… pick an analogy. One way or the other, there’s another iron in the fire and it looks like it’s going to be there awhile; especially if they end up being the squeaky wheel. Can Canada support three gun rights organizations? Yes, it can. Will it? I somewhat doubt that one.

Will the CFI still be around a year from now? That’s a good question.

Me, I’m not making up my mind one way or another just yet. I’ve got me a bag o’ popcorn, a beer, a (sorta) comfy chair and an internet connection. I’m going to sit back, watch, and see if this dog can hunt or not.

If it can, it looks like it’ll be around for some time. If not… well, it’s at least been interesting.

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