In May 2020, the federal government banned private ownership of “military” firearms, including 83,000 semi-automatic rifles that look similar to the military’s C7. The Prime Minister declared that “there is no use or place for such weapons in Canada” and claimed they were “designed for the single purpose” of killing humans. It claimed to be useless to civilians, but in a confusing twist, it allowed subsistence hunters to keep their own.
The debate was polarized, pitting property rights against public safety. The ability to shoot classrooms contrasted with the low incidence of criminal use of legally owned firearms. It was not included in public conversation.
Calgary was founded as a military fort in 1875 by armed police. Guns were a tool of their trade, and as Calgary grew into a municipality during the Northwest Rebellion, guns were a necessity. Canada’s participation in the Boer War transformed its growing military power into an international political position, giving rise to what writer James Wood called the militia myth. A standing army is costly, and Canadians won glory abroad without it. Prominent Calgarians such as William Armstrong concluded that military service was simply a matter of teaching part-time reservists (militia) basic marksmanship. An avid alderman and militia officer, Armstrong was also a pioneer in Alberta’s rifle shooting scene, a local sport whose page was devoted to shooting competitions.
Armstrong founded Calgary’s first infantry unit in 1910, and the 103rd Regiment, the Calgary Rifles, soon filled to capacity. Many 103rd Soldiers fought in the trenches of World War I and militia myths died miserably. Amateurs learned that marksmanship alone could not win, but the Canadian Corps undoubtedly prospered from a solid cadre of militiamen trained in military discipline and martial arts learned at the rifle range in their hometown.
Shooting remained popular after the war. Handguns were federally regulated starting in 1892, but rifles were largely unregulated in the decades that followed. No one disputed that teenagers kept rifles in lockers for use at high school shooting ranges. Bad things rarely happen, and it made headline news in 1925 when his teenage militia sergeant named Don McLachlan accidentally shot himself while taking a rifle home from the Mewata Arsenal. became.
Although the 103rd Rifle Regiment disappeared in the interwar reorganization, shooting was still an important part of military training. With the start of World War II, militias again formed the nucleus of an effective overseas force. The Calgarians gained new laurels, including Don McLoughlan, who commanded Calgary his Highlanders in Normandy. He was a very dedicated militia officer before the war, so Calgary and Albertans dismissed him for taking too much time off for training courses.
Today, units such as the Calgary Highlanders train with nearly the same rifles that were banned in 2020, while the Army says full automatic fire, which was banned on civilian firearms in Canada decades ago, has been banned. Is possible. Most useful military rifle training is actually done in semi-automatic shooting. It takes him four hours by bus to the nearest training ground in Calgary, which is a burden for a reserve force that only trains for a few hours a month. Until the 2020 ban, private access to the AR-15 was a great way to reinforce this important core training in a firearm that is functionally identical to its military counterpart.
Canada’s secure borders, high standard of living and strong alliances have created the leeway to make national defense a low priority. We feel very safe that Canada, which we are sure will never happen here, has shipped some of its “military” rifles to Ukraine, where citizen soldiers are fighting for their sovereignty.
If subsistence hunters have reason to own semi-automatic “military-style” weapons, it seems strange to simply ignore the long tradition that Canadian reservists also have personal access to their trading tools. All our wars seem to frighten us. Depriving soldiers of the ability to personally hone their military skills seems short-sighted from a purely historical point of view.
Michael Drosch is a longtime Army Reserve and military writer. He can be contacted through his website at canadiansoldiers.com.
Opinion: Public debate on gun control ignores Canada’s military history
Source link Opinion: Public debate on gun control ignores Canada’s military history