Thursday, March 21, 2013

History of Canadians Bearing Arms

At the current Literary Review of Canada online, Christian Pearce reviews legal historian Blake Brown's Arming and Disarming: A History of Gun Control in Canada, published last year for the Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History by University of Toronto Press.

Pearce, a criminal lawyer, quite reasonably highlights the contemporary situation of gun control in Canada, arguing for a complete ban on handguns and less concern about hunting weapons.  But both the book and the review are illuminating on historical attitudes to guns in Canada
  While many political elites before and after Confederation believed that men of property had inherited a right to bear arms, reflected partly in the English Bill of Rights, they also held that guns in the hands of “suspicious groups” represented a particular threat to established power. As such, Brown notes, “less than noble impulses motivated most gun control measures” during the early years of Canada’s formation.
So the M├ętis resistance in Saskatchewan in 1885 produced both urgent legislation to control firearms ownership in the west and an insistence in response that Canadians' right to bear arms could not be abridged.
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