Spirit Quest

A one-time enemy alien on freedom and independence; cooperation and responsibility, justice and peace
By The Rev. Dr. Hanns F. Skoutajan
True North Perspective
I once was an “enemy alien” ... for a short time, until the authorities realized that my family and the thirty other families that had been settled on less than marginal land in a remote area of northern Saskatchewan, were in fact an enemy of the enemy. Yes, we were ethnic Germans but from what was known as the Sudetenland an area which Hitler annexed from Czechoslovakia with British acquiescence in September 1938. Our folk were anti fascists fleeing from our common enemy.

As enemy aliens we were not allowed to have guns, such as the long guns which were owned by most farmers for protection and for procuring sustenance. Once our status was clarified, the ban was lifted and even my pacifist father acquired a 22. We needed it although my father with less than 20/20 vision never managed to kill anything. But vision wasn’t his only problem.

One day he came home from a hunting foray in the woods close by, empty-handed as usual. He told us of his misadventure in the bush. After pursuing his prey he finally came face to face with a large rabbit. It seemed unafraid, perhaps had some premonition about father’s pacifist leanings and soft heart. It sat quietly within easy firing range. “It had me in its sights,” he said, “ I shouldered my gun, peered through the sight at where I thought his heart should be and placed my finger on the trigger. That rabbit faced me without fear. I raised my head as a tear clouded my eye, then turned and walked away. I looked back but my prey had disappeared.”  The result of course was no rabbit stew that Sunday.

It is now 10 days since that momentous decision in parliament.  There were no abstentions or absentees, remarkably one might say.  The decision  to scrap the long gun registry was defeated with the smallest of margins, 2 votes.

The rhetoric had been ratcheted up over the months and weeks before 9-22, the fatal day, the hour of decision. Ears and eyes across the country were concentrated on the various media as the vote was counted and then announced in time for the National.

The Prime Minister who does not take defeat lightly immediately countered that this was not the end, the battle would continue. The Conservative Party would not rest until the registry was put to rest. Hunters and farmers, he stated, should not be treated like criminals, or enemy aliens, I guess. There will be revenge, he vowed, as Conservatives will challenge NDP turncoats on their own turf. I have no doubt they will, and there might be casualties in the next election which will be soon upon us.

Why is the gun registry such a big issue, trumping the economy among other significant matters of state? Some there are who believe that this is but the beginning of a campaign  to deprive the people of their weapons.

Much of this rhetoric comes from south of the border although the National Rifle Association, one of the most powerful lobbies in the US next to the veterans, have vigorously denied exercising influence north of the border. But the ether is porous and the message moves easily across the boundary line. The Right to Bear Arms is not unheralded in the peaceable kingdom where it is not constitutionally enshrined. That Right has really little to do with the registration of firearms or licensing the owner, here or across the border.

There is nevertheless a gut feeling among the citizens  that government is against the people and anxious to disarm its citizens. Conservatives, like Republicans and a good many Democrats, believe that small government is good government. Get them out of the hair or gun sights.

Proponents of the gun registry such as Linda McQuaig, the passionate lefty journalist, have drawn the parallel between gun registration and registration of cars. Police — though not all — have spoken out in favour of the registry as an affective tool in fighting crime.

I suspect that the issue lies in the fact that citizens in Canada and the United States value their independence. They believe that taxes and fees and laws are imposed upon them by an alien force. Its a Them against Us mentality.

Until we institute a voting system that clearly reflects public opinion, proportional representation, I would suggest citizens are disposed to say, “They don’t speak for me!”

Where would the gun registry be had our government  truly reflected public opinion? I have as yet not heard an analysis of this question. Registry or not, Canadians would have been given no alternative but to say that it was the people’s choice.

Of course Canada is a complex country with many regional differences that would have to be weighed and considered. But that’s what provinces are for. Nor do I believe that proportional representation will cure all our ills but it will go a long way.

I have never used a gun except to fell a tin can on a post. I have no intention of owning one. My hunter friends are determined to possess a rifle. The coming hunting season worries me. “If you go out in the woods today ...” don’t.

Only in the last two weeks a woman hunter shot a man whom she believed to be the moose which her partner was to chase towards her. I believe that gun owners should be trained and tested periodically; psychological testing might not be out of porder, however, this will be seen as government interference in our rights.

As the issuer of driver licenses informed me as he stamped my first license, a lethal weapons, a motor car, 63 years ago: Driving is a Privilege, not a Right, so also is the case for gun ownership.

But think of it, suggesting that we are not born with an inalienable right to bear arms.

Think of it, having to prove from time to time to some bureaucrat who thinks he/she knows best how to aim and pull a trigger.
Think of it that THEY are just trying to deprive me of my God given right to kill those animals who are angry about my intrusion on their territory .
Think of it that THEY are just trying to prevent me from eliminating people with radical opinions such as mine.
And, think of it, the next thing you know only the police and the military will be allowed to bear arms, which is OK by me.

There is a Spirit abroad that urges freedom and independence. That same spirit also urges cooperation and responsibility, justice and peace.  Lets not isolate these dynamics.