Canadian firearms advocate calls gun ownership ‘practical choice’

Matthew Coutts
National Affairs Reporter
Daily Brew
Obama's Gun-control Proposal Resonates in Aurora
President Obama's remarks about gun control during his State of the Union address drew quick reaction in Aurora, Colo., where 12 died in a mass shooting last summer. Residents who spoke with AP urged lawmakers to act on Obama's proposals. (Feb. 14)

The long-simmering gun control debate is on full boil in the United States these days, with U.S. President Barack Obama making the issue a key point of his second-term agenda and a keystone to his State of the Union address earlier this week.

In response to Obama’s call for a vote on new gun regulations, National Rifle Association head Wayne LaPierre, in his own call to arms, urged gun owners to "stand and fight" for the right to bear arms.

In Canada, where many consider the gun control debate one of moderate degrees, there are advocates just as passionate about the right of gun ownership. Sheldon Clare, president of the National Firearms Association, echoed LaPierre’s sentiment in a recent wide-arching interview with Yahoo! Canada News, calling for a scaling back of gun laws in Canada and defending the NRA’s stance on gun access.

“The NRA is labeled as extreme by those who take extreme positions,” Clare said. ‘The NRA’s primary purpose and reason for being is to provide skills training.”

[ Related: Gun control isn’t enough to halt violence, Obama says in Chicago ]

In the recent U.S. gun battle, both sides have resorted to hard lines and harder language.

Those who say gun control is necessary say it is a matter of life and death, and point to recent shooting tragedies in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., and many others, as proof.

LaPierre and his U.S. cohorts, as always, are also calling it a matter of life and death, this time pointing to the "next" terrorist attack as proof.

In a recent editorial on The Daily Caller, LaPierre writes:

Nobody knows if or when the fiscal collapse will come, but if the country is broke, there likely won’t be enough money to pay for police protection. And the American people know it.

Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Riots. Terrorists. Gangs. Lone criminals. These are perils we are sure to face—not just maybe. It’s not paranoia to buy a gun. It’s survival. It’s responsible behavior, and it’s time we encourage law-abiding Americans to do just that.

[ Related: U.S. President Barack Obama’s popularity hits three-year high ]

Clare sees value in that statement, and value in preparation. He said Canada is best-served as a nation prepared and educated to handle guns.

"I think owning a firearm is a practical choice. Firearms have a lot of utility, they are useful, they are clearly capable of providing protection from bad events and bad things,” he said.

“But I would say the key thing for firearms use is a voluntary education system, rather than anything compulsory."