by Terry Wieland
The other day, I took the car in for a new windshield. The shop was across the river in Illinois, so naturally the gun-owning employees and I started talking gun control, the catalyst being the new Illinois law regarding AR-15s, high-capacity magazines, and so on.
It was mentioned that an inordinate number of Illinois county sheriffs had stated they would not enforce the law—at that time, the count was around 92 sheriffs out of 104—which got me to thinking about something I was taught, not in civics class, but through reading people like Burke and Churchill.
The very first rule of good legislation, they wrote, is that it must be neither ridiculous nor unenforceable. If people laugh at a law, it’s a bad law. Similarly, if the police won’t enforce it for whatever reason, it should be repealed before the legislators themselves become laughing-stocks (if they aren’t already).
This led to disparate thoughts ranging from Britain fearing invasion in 1940, to the current war in the Ukraine, to Canada’s latest attempt at wide-ranging gun control.
To start with the first, when the German Army was on the French coast and the English Channel was looking narrower by the day, the Brits asked Americans and Canadians to donate civilian rifles, shotguns, and handguns to help them arm the populace, to resist invasion. Between 1918 and 1940, the British government had systematically disarmed the people with one regulation after another. It was like being nibbled to death by ducks. It did not take place all at once, but rather in creeping stages, just as we are seeing in Canada today.
And speaking of Canada, the Canadian Army in both 1914-18, and 1939-45, distinguished itself as a fighting force, not least because its recruits were outdoorsmen, shooters, and hunters. When they were handed a rifle, they already knew how to use it. No need to belabor that point.
Now to the Soviet Union, both old (Lenin, Stalin, etc.) and new (Putin, who sees himself as their rightful heir.) This is (and was, from 1917 on) one of the most tightly regulated societies in history. From 1918 to 1928, the Kremlin faced a number of armed revolts, not least of which was peasants in the Ukraine either demanding independence or resisting collectivization. Naturally, as Stalin’s hold tightened, the people were disarmed.
A few days ago, I read an article translated from the Russian by the Spectator’s resident Ukrainian journalist-commentator, Svitlana Morenets. Apparently, as the recent draft of new recruits for the Russian Army has not gone well, it set Putin to musing that allowing wider private ownership of rifles could result in a better grade of cannon fodder.
Now back to Canada, its ultra-woke prime minister, and the pursuit of the ridiculous.
My new acquintance in the auto-glass shop in Illinois commented that “they aren’t allowed to own guns in Canada,” which is not true—not yet, anyway—and even the proposed new law does not prohibit everything.
One rifle that is on the 306-page list appended to Bill C-21 is the Lee-Enfield in all its forms, models, marks, and asterisks—a rifle that has been part of Canadian history and tradition for 110 years. The No. 1 Mk. III was carried by Canadian troops in the Great War, the No. 4 Mk. I by soldiers in the second. In between, surplus rifles were sold to trappers, farmers, ranchers, Eskimos (as they were then called), Indians (ditto), and big-game hunters of every stripe.
No one has any idea how many Lee-Enfields are scattered across the country. Hundreds of thousands? Millions, maybe? From the 1960s and into the 1970s, the Canadian Tire catalogue had several pages of Lee-Enfields for sale, of all marks and stages of sporterization. The unaltered No. 4 Mk. I, albeit accurized and fitted with superb Parker-Hale target sights, was the main rifle used at the national matches at Connaught Ranges, outside Ottawa. The Lee-Enfield was as close to a cult rifle as we ever got.
Now, it is to be banned. Why? Because it has a ten-shot, detachable magazine.
Other notable firearms on the list are, in order of increasing absurdity, the Weatherby Mark V (the .460 Weatherby cartridge is on the hit list because its muzzle energy exceeds the upper limit of 10,000 joules, or 7,375 ft.lbs.), the Ruger No. 1 and No. 3 (because they could conceivably be rebarreled to .460 Weatherby) and—my personal favorite—Parker shotguns. Why Parkers? Because Parker once made an 8-gauge, and 8-gauge exceeds the upper limit bore diameter of 20mm. So ban all Parkers.
Anyone with half a brain, or any knowledge whatever of guns, knows that no rifle can be “readily” rebarreled to something like .460 Weatherby, but that’s the way the moron who supposedly drafted the amendment with the 306-page list, words it. Said moron, by the way, is one Paul Chiang, MP, who represents a riding near Toronto. Chiang was described by the Liberal government as a former “senior police officer.” In fact, in 30 years, with three different forces—that alone raises some questions—he rose to the dizzying rank of sergeant.
Bismarck described politics as “the art of the possible;” under the Canadian Liberals, it’s become the art of the ludicrous.
Now, on a happier note, we can report that provincial police forces across the country are being ordered by provincial governments not to enforce the law, nor to undertake gun seizures, as the feds would wish. An initial “pilot project” of gun seizures in the shooting hotbed of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, resulted in serious resistance—reportedly some guns were pointed, and officers withdrew. And so it’s back to the drawing board.
Prince Edward Island is by far the smallest province (Pop. 172,707) with no real tradition of hunting or shooting—not like Alberta, the Yukon, British Columbia or, for that matter, Ontario. Presumably, it was chosen because they expected the least resistance, and the least media coverage. They were wrong. Even the anti-gun CBC, and Liberal mouthpiece Toronto Star, reported on it.
It would be really useful if some of these people read some history, and better still if they learned from it.
As a veteran of the Canadian gun-control wars since the 1960s, shooting editor Terry Wieland can attest that the politicians promoting gun control become less knowledgeable, not more, as time wears on.