May 31, 2015

The Gun Culture Project: One man's quest to debunk stereotypes about gun owners

Brian LilleyArchive

Professor Brian Given, an anthropologist at Carleton University, talked to me about his research into Canadian firearms ownership.

Professor Given is interviewing gun owners across Canada as part of the Gun Culture Project, which will debunk many popular stereotypes about Canadian gun owners.

Tune in to learn some of the surprising results of his research.

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commented 2015-06-01 18:51:13 -0400
Thank you Professor Given. I’m serving notice that I intend to (shamelessly) steal and repeat your statement:
“If you want to produce legislation that affects somebody else’s life, you do have an obligation to know quite a lot about the activities you want to restrict.”
commented 2015-06-01 13:52:25 -0400
Thanks for your comments Bill. I know a little bit about guns as I did my military service in a far off country that no longer exits. I was trained in how to use the FN assault rife that takes the 7.62 round. We were also trained on the MAG and the Bren gun the former a WW2 vintage weapon yet very effective. Concentrated fire from the assault rifle can bring down a small tree. I bought a cobra sub machine gun (picture attached below) for my wife to have at home and while travelling when I was away fighting ZANLA and ZIPRA. You may have heard of them communist terrorists supported and aided by the government of Canada.
Guns I believe are primarily for killing people. Some people need to be killed when they come and want to kill you or your family or other innocents.
I don’t have any guns now that I live here. Should I? Probably. By the way I am a Canadian citizen by birth but went as a young man to help those in need. There were a few not many Canadians helping out too. One was what is now called a FN man and he was from a reserve in Western Canada. He was killed in action by ZANLA. RIP.
commented 2015-06-01 12:04:15 -0400
commented 2015-06-01 08:07:26 -0400
Ron Zager _ First, A gun is a tool, a potentially dangerous one, but a useful tool none the less and no different than any other potentially harmful tool – it has no inherent characteristics – it is neither defensive or offensive, that is a matter for the person in control of it. The utility of a gun is that when you need one, you need it in the same urgent way you would need a parachute or life raft.

Second, I will be the first to admit owning a firearm is not for every one. If you are uncomfortable with them or incapable of the sobriety, skill and responsibility needed, then don’t own one – like most things in life, it is a matter of personal choice. I don’t lobby government to demand you be armed against your will or your own perspective of your own safety, I expect the same civility from you in not lobbying government to disarm me and deny me my freedoms by slandering my character to do so.
Ron, I know you are too civil to do this, but this is what the anti-gun zealotry do to create a hysteria where there is no problem.

Joan Abernathy – I grew up on a farm where Dad kept an unloaded Winchester 97 pump shotgun ready for fox, coons and sundry other poultry and garden raiding vermin – the gun was unloaded but the shells were close by and with 3 kids in the house any one of us could have loaded it – but we didn’t – we didn’t because Dad showed us what a shotgun can do and told us never ever to touch that gun unless he was with us (we were small then maybe 5-7 when Dad shot a rotten ham to show us how fast an accident can happen and to never point the gun a a person). When I was 8 Dad had taught my brother and I all we needed to know about safe gun handling and how to hit what we aimed at- it was my job to keep rats out of the barn and ground hogs out of the pasture and rabbits out of the garden – it was a proud moment for me, trust from my Dad, his faith in my maturity/integrity, and family belonging in doing my part on the farm – and fun too to plink cans to keep my eye sharp – my son now owns those guns and he will give them to his son when he is ready and we will all hunt whitetail together, (as I did with my Dad and Grandad), before I cast off this coil – that is my experience just as it is the childhood experience of the vast majority – I feel sadness for what happened to you, but you must realize it was not the norm. My parents cared enough about us to make sure we knew about firearm safety and the responsibilities of having a firearm in the house just as we were taught to build a fire but not to play with matches, or use an axe properly.

From the decades of contact I have had with friends and acquaintances in hunting and shooting clubs and wildlife assns. this is the traditional Canadian firearms experience – primarily positive – However, there has been a political change in the nation where the government has been made to fill the roll of my parent and say that none of its children can be trusted, they must be placed on lists and kept under suspicion – it does so using the fraudulent narrative about Canadian gun culture it gets from urban-centric anti-gun phobics in media, special interest and academia – all this negativity with no validation of a problem large enough to warrant putting 7 million Canadians under criminal suspicion in law. Now there’s the crime!
commented 2015-06-01 00:52:39 -0400
What a great interview! It is too bad that the MSM would not broadcast, or publish, a thoughtful piece like this.
If it were up to the rabid, anti-gun types, no honest, reliable Canadian citizen would have a right to own firearms. In their world only three members of our society would have guns: the police, the military and of course you couldn’t keep them from the criminals. Isn’t that a lovely scenario, something like Sadam’s Iraq, Nazi Germany or Stalin’s Russia.
Again, what a great interview. Thank you Brian.
commented 2015-05-31 21:51:40 -0400
Thanks for that Glenn. It will be a most exciting competition. Keep us informed of how everything turns out.
commented 2015-05-31 19:59:27 -0400
@ron Zager….this 80 year old gentleman I spoke of uses a custom made South African Musgrave bolt action …he shot in South Africa…our top marksman in F-class uses one as well….I am so envious when I watch them load and extract each shot so easily and with no marring of the recycled whatsoever….he has one in .223…I would love to buy it….

In July I will be opening shot at a tournament where the first event will be a memorial to a woman who tragically died of MS at age 29…she was Canadian women’s champion and represented Canada at Bisley.
I will be firing her gun in the opening event….it is a beautiful South African “Sportco” single shot bolt action Palma target rifle….top of the food chain when it was made…it has a custom built stock made by a master marksman…a master woodwork teacher….and her boyfriend….quite literally a labour of love………:-)
commented 2015-05-31 18:50:45 -0400
Joan you had some nasty things happen to you as a youngster. Thank goodness you are still with us. I have always thought guns were invented to kill – people first then game. Glenn points out there are recreational uses for firearms and much skill goes into becoming a marksman. I don’t know if I would want to carry a concealed gun like you are allowed to do in some States.
commented 2015-05-31 18:27:39 -0400
This is US data but not that different than Canadian data.

My Dad kept guns but none of them were ever registered. He kept a loaded pistol in a roll-top desk in the front hall, a loaded long gun in my bedroom closet and others in my parents’ room and in the basement.

When my folks went out, my brother took out the pistol and played with it. Nothing I could do about it as he was the babysitter being five years my senior. I wouldn’t tell on him because, while my father never shot any of us, his use of them for intimidation was quite effective.

One time, he put a loaded long gun to my head and told me he had friends in police who would help him hide my body so no one ever found it. I didn’t say anything much after that until I was forty.

We were neither rural nor poor. We lived in Etobicoke, an affluent suburb of Toronto.

I have nothing against guns. I like guns, as a matter of fact. I wish our law allowed us to carry guns so anyone thinking they can harass us with impunity or break into our homes while we sleep would think twice. Target shooting appeals to me but I’ve never got around to pursuing it.
commented 2015-05-31 18:10:45 -0400
@ Glenn…nice to see you have a sense of humour!
commented 2015-05-31 17:25:13 -0400
Glenn I hope you do well in your competition. I was never very good at it and always wondered how some managed to qualify as marksmen so easily.
commented 2015-05-31 16:53:10 -0400
I happen to be preparing for a tournament that has happened annually since 1861. Yesterday a man who just turned 80 showed me a little trick of applying hockey tape to the polished surfaces of my barrel to dampen the heat welter that would distort my sight picture as the barrel heats up….he has been shooting for 60 years and has represented my province at the Connaught Range in Ottawa and my country at Bisley in England . He is still working as a mechanic…he cannot afford to retire.

Canada has won more medals internationally in shooting than in hockey…in fact the comparison is absurd. There are exponentially more Canadians who own guns that there are Canadians who own golf clubs…yet there are exponentially more golf courses than there are shooting ranges….how are we doing internationally in golf?

How many Liberal golfers would still own their golf clubs if that required their wife’s written permission? How many if it required their ex-wife’s…….:-)

I have said this before and I now say it again….it was feminists and divorce lawyers who led the charge against gun ownership….I can’t imagine why that might be…….:-)

I am a men’s rights activist….I took up shooting late in life and was previously anti-gun….I became interested as an MRA issue…I tried out some high precision Olympic air rifles and discovered it was fun…and nothing to be afraid of. I now shoot full bore out to 600 yards.

I make this appeal to any man who decides that his ex or her lawyer needs killing….please be considerate of gun owners and use a golf club…a nine iron travels through the air the fastest…and you would probably find it a much more viscerally satisfying expression of vengeance or righteous indignation …..

And if enough men follow THAT advice we might perhaps look forward to a future where Liberals have to get permission to transport their golf clubs to the range and feel the insult of THAT guilt by association…and of course if they threw a temper tantrum when they missed a shot they would have to forfeit their golf clubs and their golfing PRIVILEGES….you don’t see that sort of thing happen at a shooting range…’s just not tolerated. Target shooting is a gentleman’s sport…..unlike golf.
commented 2015-05-31 16:28:58 -0400
Well said, Bill Elder. I, too, am pessimistic regarding the effectiveness of his research against the false narrative the anti-gun activists have woven throughout our society, but as a minimum it will provide a basis for reference.
commented 2015-05-31 14:54:52 -0400
Wow! Can’t wait for the book. It is long overdue. …and from a Carleton University professor yet. is definitely the place to get news you will not see anywhere else. Way to go, Brian!
commented 2015-05-31 13:49:31 -0400
Of course the biggest problem is prejudice and fear. And that those who hate and fear guns believe that owning a gun makes you turn into a killer. I suppose they may be projecting how they would behave with a gun. But for good upstanding law-abiding gun owning Canadian citizens, guns are just a passion and hobby they have and they have intention, no motive and no desire to hurt anyone with them. The real people we need to fear are those who would disarm us and try to control us. Those who would usurp power from the citizenry and give it to a small group of people exclusively.
commented 2015-05-31 13:43:33 -0400
Refreshingly poignant interview Brian – certainly something we will never see on CBC or the other “narrative-pimping” media.
The reason public knowledge of firearms, firearms laws and lawful firearms use is so low it is virtually non-existent is obvious – because frank factual dialogue about the history and tradition of firearms ownership/use in Canada is diametrically opposite of the distorted stereotypes and histories propagated by the media.

Bad gun law, such as that which the Conservatives are attempting to peel back so it does not continue to criminalize innocent citizens, could not exist nor be “controversial” without the complete buy-in by MSM. Their relentless 30 year demonization of firearms owners and scape-goating of them for the crimes of criminals and madmen, has led us to the point where the facts are so distorted it is nearly impossible to make firearms law based in factual knowledge of realities – NO ONE in the political systems or MSM is interested in the truth – the truth about firearms ownership severely dampens the hysteria and crisis narratives needed to expand government and police powers – SO, the MSM reveal themselves (in this gun issue particularly) as not the guardians of the public good or champions of the people against oppressive government, but, in fact, the champions of big government statism and police state overreach.

Without the hysteria over guns propagated by false stereotyping, fallacious “statistics” and the complete denial of objective perspective, draconian gun laws such as those the Conservatives are repealing could never exist in a free and fair society with no real crisis worthy of repressing the legal rights of innocent citizens. The Chreten/Rock gun laws were nothing bit Orwellian “pre-crime” blanket criminalization of lawful citizens. Here’s the thing, as a multi-generational Canadian, NON-CRIMINAL firearms ownership and use is part of my heritage – my gun is no threat to public safety any more than my father’s, his father’s and my great grandfather’s was (I can’t speak for my great great Grandpa because he was mustered into the Canadian militia and just may have used his rifle to scare off a belligerent Yank or two.) In all these generations of firearms use/ownership the nation was better off for my family knowing how to use a firearm safely and responsibly – we kept Canada free of the Kaiser, Nazis and expansionist yanks and we fed our family and protected our and our neighbor’s livestock with our guns – we even had a bit of sport with them in target competition. My family is the historic/traditional norm where firearms ownership is concerned, yet all urban Canadians know of it is the negative stereotypes seeded by a manipulative media and opportunist politicians.

I applaud the professor on his attempt to bring fact and perspective to the firearms issue, however I feel he may be doomed to disappointment just as all the other academics who have offered damning factual insight to the prevailing false narrative on firearms. Will he be another academic researcher with narrative-busting facts who will be curtly dismissed by the anti-gun zealotry of the media as were Kleck, Kopel, Mauser and Lott? Probably – the reason I am not optimistic for truth breaking through the anti-gun media narrative is because negative stereotyping of gun owners has been re-propagated so long it is more a public indoctrination than a misconception – and the indoctrinated are conditioned to reject truths which dispel their fallacious programming – so give it a shot, all the best prof, but I hold out no hope for the reformation of the gun-phobic media- reform will come when there is a legal price to pay for inflaming state oppression towards a peaceful group of citizens.
commented 2015-05-31 13:34:24 -0400
Wow a University Professor who actually has some common dense and is not so Authoritarian, Totalitarian Left that he wants to ban forks and spoons because they exist! I’ll purchase your book when it comes out!
commented 2015-05-31 12:25:36 -0400
And so do I look forward to the book.