Saturday, July 16, 2011

 

GUNS OF AUTUMN

When Canada's Parliamentary session resumes in September, Mr. Harper's majority Conservatives will eliminate the national long-gun registry despite ongoing opposition from the country's police officers and their superiors.

To be fair former Toronto Police Chief and subsequent Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police, Julian Fantino, doesn't necessarily agree with his former colleagues in uniform. Perhaps, as some have suggested, Mr. Fantino's conversion has more to do with his 2010 election as a Tory Member of Parliament from Vaughan, Ontario followed by his subsequent recent elevation to Associate Minister of Defence than for any waining support for former comrades in arms...I digress.

Be that as it may, it's south of the border in the United States that the problem is far more acute and a frequent source of frustration and irritation for Canadian authorities forced to deal with the ever increasing flow of illegal handguns (by every means possible) into our country.

That is in keeping with President Barack Obama's stance on gun issues since taking office: Once outspoken earlier in his political career in favour of tougher gun measures, the President has tread carefully since the election of 2008, almost never raising the topic except when asked and offering only tepid support for measures he once embraced; for instance re-enacting a ban on assault weapons.

In fact now six months after a Member of Congress was shot in the head in Arizona the President's administration still hasn't taken any new steps on gun violence even though that's exactly what Mr. Obama called for during a nationwide address in the immediate wake of the shooting of Representative Gabrielle Gifford. A significant measure uppermost to anti gun violence supporters is closing the "gun-show loophole" which allows private sellers to sell firearms at gun shows and elsewhere without conducting background checks. As a result, activist groups say that 40% of gun sales in the United-States are conducted without mandatory background checks. These are frequently the weapons used in heinous crimes in the United-States, or having found there way illegally across the northern border, far too frequently here as well in Canada.

To make a bad situation worse across the U.S., states have been increasingly allowing people who have lost their "firearms rights" because of mental illness to petition to have them restored. More than 20 State Legislatures have passed restoration laws since 2008 when Mr. Obama's Presidential election sparked fears that national measures might follow to tighten or eliminate rights contained in the second amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The intent of these new state laws is to enable people to regain the right to buy and own firearms if it's determined they are no longer a threat to public safety. The main problem is that low level courts such as those that handle small-claims and traffic infractions have been entrusted with enforcing the legislation. There Judges are (for the most part) giving the petitioners the benefit of the doubt.

With opposition from gun-rights group, increasingly hostile legislation from many state governments, an election year approaching, and attention focused on a faltering economy and few prospects for any action from Congress; the silence from Mr. Obama's administration is likely to draw little attention and even less criticism.

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