National Firearms Association (NFA) Interview
The NFA exists to “promote, support and protect: all safe firearms activities, including the right of self-defence; firearms education for all Canadians; freedom and justice for Canada’s firearms community, and further to advocate for legislative change to protect the right to own and use firearms.” Additionally, they provide “access to legal assistance for the defence of the rights of Canadians”, and through their lobbying efforts stand as “Canada’s firearms voice in Ottawa”.
Blair Hagen | EVP & Communications
What is the NFA, what is your mission, and how do you go about fulfilling your objectives?
The NFA is Canada's largest, and oldest, firearms advocacy organization. Historically, the NFA has fought both politically, and in courts, across Canada to advance and protect the firearms rights and culture of Canadians since 1978.
When governments recognize the need for firearms law reform, we advise on regulation, legislation, and also advise Canadians (who believe in rights and freedoms) on how they can support this politically.
When Governments pursue civil disarmament agendas and enact legislation and regulation to do so, we fight in the courts. Recently the NFA has fought actions in the Supreme Court of Canada and Quebec. We also fight politically by advising Canadians on legislation and threats to their firearms freedom. The NFA supports no particular political party or movement, as we have criticized the Conservative Party of Canada governments as well as the Liberal Party of Canada governments equally.
Canadians who believe in rights and freedoms know they will get critical analysis and advisement on law and politics from the National Firearms Association. That is why our analysis and advisement is valued by Canadians.
What is the NFA's position on gun control measures within the Canadian context?
Canada's firearms laws have failed. The 1995 Firearms Act (Bill C-68) and it's attempt at mandatory licensing and universal registration were simply the latest manifestation of failure. But, they have been politically motivated and have targeted the rights and property of average Canadians since shortly after Confederation. The current Firearms Act is directed solely at the legitimate ownership and use of firearms and undermines basic precepts of rights and property. It does nothing in regards to the criminal misuse of firearms.
What is the NFA’s ideal set of governmental laws/regulations regarding firearm ownership?
Ideal within the context of contemporary Canada is the repeal and replacement of the 1995 Firearms Act with one that respects the rights and property of Canadians. From time to time governments will pursue regulatory agendas. When doing so, they must ensure that that legislation and regulation does not negatively impact the legitimate ownership, use, and economic potential of the rights and property of Canadians. The current Firearms Act destroys all of those rights, and deliberately so. We have made important inroads towards this under the previous Conservative Government of Stephen Harper, but, for firearms law reform to advance, there will have to be a change in government.
Can you explain the NFA's position on a hypothetical "handgun ban" being proposed by the Trudeau government?
The NFA's position is that this is insanity. The government and civil disarmament lobby admit that such a thing would have a negligible effect on public safety, but it should be considered simply because "it might do some good". There are no statistics to support this proposal. To even think of or consider targeting the rights and property of Canadians in such a manner is patently offensive and irresponsible.
In reality, there has actually been a partial "handgun ban" in Canada since 1995. Handguns like the .25 and .32 calibre variety, with barrels under 4.14 inches, are strictly prohibited and these firearms have been steadily confiscated over the last 20 years. What effect on public safety has this had? None. What effect on the rights and property of Canadians has this had? Horrific. It is something we should all be ashamed of.
Should firearm ownership be a constitutionally protected right in Canada?
A lot of people think the Second Amendment of the US Constitution confers a "right to bear arms" for Americans. It does not.
It recognizes and codifies a previously existing right within the US Constitution. The founding fathers of the United States recognized that the rights conferred by the Magna Carta/English Common Law would be attacked and undermined by kings, courts, and governments. They recognized the necessity to better clarify those rights in their Constitution so that there would be no confusion. It has partially worked. There are state and federal laws that have been enacted which are in clear violation of the Second Amendment, but most Americans can continue to celebrate it.
Canadians have had the same right to arms that the Americans have, it was just never thought necessary to codify those rights in the way it was done in the American constitution. Surely kings, courts, and governments would always recognize those ancient rights?
Codifying this right, and cultural tradition, in the Canadian Constitution would help clarify and protect it perhaps we should consider it. IfCertainly the issue of property rights is one that must be addressed since Canadian governments and courts have attacked and undermined these rights for several decades.
What has the NFA noticed (in terms of correlation) between gun ownership and crime?
Criminal firearm use has been falling since the 1970s (despite the current government’s attempt to manipulate statistics for their own legislative agenda). The use of firearms in criminal enterprises has little to do with "gun control" laws and everything to do with demographics and the application of the Criminal Code with regards to sentencing.
People say “We don't want to be like the United States" but fail to consider that there are 326 million Americans and only 36 million Canadians. It is not that we are nicer, more civilized people -- there are just fewer of us. A lot of anti-American bias and parochialism is bought into by the Canadian political and cultural elite in order to enact a civil disarmament agenda. It is not supported by study or statistics and never has been.
What are the biggest social, political and economic benefits of widespread firearm ownership?
This is a Canadian right and cultural tradition. It is a celebration of our British Common Law rights and heritage. Even in the early 21st Century, Canada is still the envy of the world in terms of potential for hunting and recreational firearms use. Our firearms, and firearms related businesses/industries, employ and provide careers for scores of Canadians. It is a celebration of freedom, safety, and responsibility that Canadians should be proud of. Unfortunately, the current Liberal party of Canada government does not see this.
What are the major pitfalls of widespread firearm ownership?
Very few and they are easily overcome.
Some people reject our rights and culture and think fewer guns necessarily equals fewer crimes and tragedies. Some think that imposing mandatory licensing, registration, and training courses will lessen the interest in firearms ownership and help them achieve their goals of civil disarmament.
A lot is made about firearms and safety. There are those who come to Canada from other countries, with no tradition of firearms ownership, who wish to participate in our culture and freedoms. We've established a culture of firearms freedom, safety, and responsibility which is easily conferred to newcomers. This has been manipulated by various Canadian governments.
Unfortunately, firearms legislation has perverted, complicated, and undermined our culture of freedom, safety, and responsibility for the agenda of civil disarmament. This must end.
I'm sorry but criminals will always have access to the tools they want to commit offences with. Denying Canadians their rights and property to stop them has utterly failed and is totally wrong. Governments should concern themselves with the criminal demand for, and use of, guns rather than trying to confiscate the rights and property of law-abiding Canadians.
Does the NFA think that legal gun owners are unfairly maligned in mainstream culture?
Yes, and deliberately so. There has been an organized social re-engineering agenda, towards civil disarmament, and the undermining of Canadian rights and freedoms, for many decades. In 1995, Bill C-68 and its “Firearms Act” were supposed to be the final nail in the coffin for this Canadian right and cultural tradition. But, the legislation failed so badly that it actually gave Canadians the impetus to enact firearm law reforms. For decades, this was unthinkable. Not anymore.
The mainstream media and popular culture celebrate the criminal and irresponsible misuse of firearms and attack the legitimate ownership, use, and cultural tradition of firearms ownership. It is a very strange relationship that those of us who own, use, and live with firearms every day cannot understand.
Years ago, I remember men of my father's generation were discouraged for various reasons to hide their sport and their culture. Today, Canadians are much more willing to self identify as a "gun owner". I suppose this is a positive, most certainly in the political sense.
Where does the NFA see gun control in Canada in 5, 10, and 25 years?
This is impossible to predict. Twenty years ago I would have said we were fighting a losing battle, but reforms enacted under the previous Conservative government proved that firearms law reform was politically possible (and indeed could be politically popular for a government to pursue). There are more people celebrating the Canadian right and cultural tradition of firearms ownership and use today than there has ever been.
According to the plans of the federal government, and the civil disarmament lobby, this was supposed to be a sunset activity that slowly died out with old white guys but instead has turned out to be something completely different. There aren’t any stereotypical firearm owning Canadians anymore. People immigrate to Canada to enjoy this right among all of the other rights and freedoms we have historically enjoyed.
There are millions of us, licensed and unlicensed. When valid firearms licenses hit 2 million, the Liberal Party started to worry. The firearms program was supposed to decrease the number of Canadians authorized to possess firearms, this was not to be the intended result. They do not want guns to be a political issue in Canada the way that they are in the US (and the way they are in Canada today). How do you do that? Create fewer Canadians who are authorized to possess firearms.
This is why they want to impose Bill C-71 with all of its offences against rights and property.
Where firearms laws go in the next 5, 10 or 20 years will be up to Canadians. If we believe in our Canadian right and cultural tradition of firearms ownership, we will continue to demand and pursue firearms law reforms and elect governments who are willing to do that. I often compare today to the 1990s when I first got involved in this. I am more optimistic than ever that Canadians are committed to their rights and freedoms and will continue to be politically active in supporting this.