TheGunBlog.ca — Following are comments on gun policy and crime by Wes Winkel, the head of Canada’s main firearm-industry group, and the owner of one of the country’s largest independent gun stores.
Winkel, president of the Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association and the owner of Ellwood Epps Sporting Goods in Orillia, Ontario, spoke July 24 in a telephone interview with TheGunBlog.ca. The interview was edited for clarity.
What do you make of government proposals to ban guns?
We have to stop this ignorant focus on restricting the ownership of firearms.
The problem is the thought process that thinks restricting firearms is the answer, the archaic notion that if we stop a law-abiding owner from acquiring firearms, that it’s going to stop some bad guy from shooting people up.
There are so many illegal ways to get guns, from the Dark Web, to using anonymous cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. You can buy anything from illegal weapons and drugs to migrants.
Now with 3D printing and other channels, people can make pretty much anything they want. They can buy parts and print the rest.
Laws will not keep weapons out of the hands of criminals.
What are some better ways to proceed, when there are violent people like the deranged Danforth Avenue murderer among us?
We can increase security at schools, such as through metal detectors. That can also work for certain public events.
The truth is, there’s nothing much you can do to guarantee safety.
When you’re sitting in a cafe on a street corner, anyone walking towards you could be that guy.
As a father, do I feel safe knowing a guy like this is walking around? No.
The mere existence of that instability is dangerous regardless if the individual has access to guns.
How do you see the current debate on firearms?
There are constant forums of people on social media banding together to bring about change. There are 10,000 discussion forums about firearms. Everybody has an opinion without information and purely based on emotion.
It’s like if I were writing in a forum about heart surgery. I might have an opinion, but it would be a pretty ignorant one. Why is anyone listening to these people?
It’s an emotional issue. It’s like being for or against abortion. People have very strong opinions.
Regardless of which side you’re on, I can make you change your mind.
Someone told me the other day he wanted an “assault rifle” ban. Within 5 minutes he realized he had no idea what he was talking about. He could not even define an assault rifle. He just had an emotional response.
People say they want to ban semi-automatic firearms, but they have no clue what a semi-automatic firearm is.
Anybody who thinks they have the magic potion to solve this, well, they don’t.
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