PUBLICATION: Canadian Press Newswire DATE: 2007.03.20
CATEGORY: National General News
BYLINE: DAN GAUTHIER
KENORA, Ont. (CP) _ Canada should replace its current firearms licensing
system with a list or registry of criminals prohibited from owning or
possessing a firearm, says a lawyer for a northwestern Ontario couple
challenging the constitutionality of the Firearms Act.
Canadian firearms legislation, which requires all gun owners to obtain a
licence, breaches citizens' rights to possess firearms because it gives
the government the power to refuse granting firearms licences, argued
lawyer Calvin Martin.
With this power, Martin said, the time will come when the government
will be able to prohibit any ownership of firearms.
This unfairness to all Canadians could be solved by the government
scrapping the current licensing legislation and creating a "reverse
licensing" system that would allow all Canadians to own guns, except
those with violent criminal records, Martin suggested.
Bruce Montague of Eton Rugby, Ont., is charged with 53 weapons-related
offences, including the unauthorized possession and careless storage of
non-restricted firearms, explosives and restricted firearms.
His wife Donna Montague is facing three charges: the unauthorized
possession of a firearm and two counts of careless storage of a firearm.
Their charter application is seeking to strike out sections of the
Criminal Code of Canada related to the Firearms Act, to have their
criminal charges dismissed, and to have the Firearms Act declared
Martin began his submissions Monday by referring Justice John Wright to
William Blackstone's 1765 book "Commentaries on the Laws of England."
In it, Martin argued, Blackstone maintains that under English common
law, all Canadians have the right to protect their personal security,
personal liberty and private property.
Blackstone's commentaries say all Canadians have the right to furnish
themselves with everything they need to ensure these rights, Martin
This may be interpreted as being able to possess weapons for their
protection, including firearms, he argued.
But Wright said such rights would fall under English common-law rights,
not those of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
"We're not in the United States," Wright said.
Martin maintained, however, that these rights could fall under Sec. 26
of the charter, which guarantees Canadians will not be denied rights and
freedoms not specifically mentioned in the charter.
"If we strike down this legislation, then tomorrow every thug on the
streets of Toronto can go out and get a gun," Wright said.
Martin replied: "I would submit every thug on the streets of Toronto
already has a gun."
Wright has also ruled on what evidence can be admitted from the
Montagues' two key witnesses.
Wright ruled he would only accept evidence relevant to the charter
issues being argued from Simon Fraser University business professor Gary
In particular, the judge said he would not accept any excerpts from one
of Mauser's publications, "Debunking the Gun Control Myth," because it
relates more to gun registry issues than firearm licensing, the crux of
Wright also ruled evidence from Montague's second key witness, National
Firearms Association president David Tomlinson, was inadmissible.
The judge said he was too much of an advocate for the movement against
current firearms legislation, so his opinions would not be accepted.
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