Today is the 35th anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The document’s legal and political significance and symbolism are as important as they are controversial for all Canadians, especially those of us who buy, sell, own, use or work with guns.
- The Charter sought to protect fundamental freedoms by adding a bill of rights to the constitution, and limited those rights in its first sentence.
- Our rights to “life, liberty and security” get mentioned all the way down in Section 7, and in some cases have been interpreted to exclude the right of self-defence.
- Section 2 says Canadians have “freedom of peaceful assembly,” but when gun owners gather, the government calls out police snipers.
- Section 8 says we’re protected against “unreasonable search or seizure,” but gun owners are subject to warrantless searches, break-ins and confiscations by police.
- When we’ve used the Charter to challenge the Criminal Code and Firearms Act, we’ve lost.
This is a vast and essential subject that touches on fundamental principles of life, justice and the law, from the presumption of innocence to privacy and property rights to licensing and registration to personal and national security.
Here are a few links:
Charter of Rights and Freedoms
- Solomon Friedman’s Firearms Law Canada Blog: Charter of Rights and Freedoms
- Study directed by F.L. (Ted) Morton, 2002: How the Firearms Act (Bill C-68) Violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms
From Morton’s Introduction
… the Firearms Act contains as many as 28 distinct Charter violations. If the Supreme Court applies the same Charter rules to law-abiding firearm owners as it has to impaired drivers, drug dealers, prostitutes, pimps, single parent welfare recipients, abortion providers, murderers, refugee claimants and owners of child pornography, that is—if it applies the law of the land with an even hand—then it will be forced by its own precedents to declare the Firearms Act unconstitutional and thus of no force or effect.
- Canadian Shooting Sports Association: Commentary: Canadian Self-Defence Law: Three Things You Absolutely Must Know
- Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights Policy Memorandum: Self-Defence
- National Firearms Association: Self-Defence: A Modest Proposal (p. 12)
- TheGunBlog.ca: Why Is Quebec Helping Thieves, Rapists and Murderers?
- Lorne Gunter, Toronto Sun: Ian Thomson’s acquittal is nothing more than common sense
- Department of Justice on changes to Criminal Code, 2013: Reforms to Self-Defence and Defence of Property: Technical Guide for Practitioners
Property Rights, Right to Bear Arms
- Supreme Court of Canada: R. v. Hasselwander (“Canadians, unlike Americans do not have a constitutional right to bear arms.”)
- Leonid Sirota’s Double Aspect Blog: A Right to Bear Arms? Canadian Cases
- John Robson Documentary: A Right to Arms
High River (2013), Slave Lake (2011): RCMP Break-ins and Confiscations
- TheGunBlog.ca: Outrage Over High River Is About More Than Guns
- Dennis Young: Call a judicial inquiry into the High River Forced Entries
- Christopher di Armani: Illegal RCMP Searches in Slave Lake?
Bruce Montague: Arrested, Charged and Convicted After PAL Expired
Licensing, Registration and Violence
- Gary Mauser: Hubris in the North: The Canadian Firearms Registry
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