‘Whack-job’ libertarianism underlies Conservative Party

We are embarked on an election wherein the governing party seeks, among other things, to try to drag us down the road to the nightmare across the border.

We are embarked on an election wherein the governing party seeks, among other things, to try to drag us down the road to the nightmare across the border.

With the advent of a majority the Conservative Party promises to finally bring an end to the long gun registry which the Reform Party and its successor have opposed since the registry was created in the wake of the horrible and tragic École Polytechnique killings. They will achieve this majority, they hope, using the registry as a wedge in rural ridings. They will also be able to throw red meat to what they see as their “base.”

Anti-long-gun registry sentiment is not monolithic and not much different from the kind of counter-movements that arise from most efforts to regulate dangerous practices and products. Smoking restrictions, seat belts and helmet requirements come to mind.

It is disingenuous, however to paint this opposition as duck hunters and hardy rural folk who need to protect themselves from marauding bears and such and who don’t need a bunch of revenuers making them register their shotguns. If you scratch the surface in this country you can see the outline of an argument that is mainstream in the discourse of our southern neighbour and perhaps it is time to address it directly here.

This argument against the long gun registry is that registration is the prelude to confiscation and confiscation is the prelude to the loss of the gun owner’s civil liberties and the onset of tyranny. The obvious corollary to this proposition is that the possession of the long gun, as a weapon, in the hands of the citizen makes it available to the citizen for self-defence.

Let us examine this notion in the Canadian context.  We have taken up arms and fought, not with hunting weapons, but with modern arms of the time, on many occasions in our history. We continue to do so, indeed in active combat not seen since Korea, in Afghanistan.

All of these instances of Canadians bringing to bear the lethal firepower of the military and being made to suffer the same in response we were told, and we believed, had something to do with liberty and democracy and freedom. It must. The sacrifice is too difficult to bear otherwise.

These words, when not used cynically or manipulatively as mere jingoism, each have a considerable literature that would be as difficult to summarize succinctly as it is vast. At a minimum, in my humble, rural view, a democracy is an active process that is only really possible where it can be said that the rule of law, not of men, prevails.

The history of this principle is one of gradual evolution away from the notion that each man could be a little absolute monarch and the actual monarch, along with his brothers and cousins, could take what they like and when they like provided they had the weapons. Democracy was only made possible when the means to exercise violence was relegated to the police and military and they were made accountable to the people. If this development should suffer a reversal, if the power to coerce should become tyrannical to the extent that a hunting rifle is some kind of recourse, then we will have failed at so much else along the road to that dreadful pass.

Not the least of these failures will be the failure to rationally examine some of the fuzzy romantic notions that drive serious policy and social decisions currently being contemplated or implemented by people who style themselves as conservatives but have no resistance, apparently, to any simplistic solution or tendentious argument as long as it leads to this dystopia where your shotgun is your security.

I have never been an uncritical supporter of the police but I am not so naive as to believe that we can have “freedom” much less security without them. If the police say the long gun registry is a useful tool to help keep them safe as they go to domestic violence calls and other places that we want them to go then I would think that a so-called “law and order” government would listen.

Instead we have a thinly supported economic argument about efficiency cobbled together with some unsupported and unscientific notions about who may be an innocent (as opposed to domestically violent or criminal) duck hunter covering the blatantly ideological goal of satisfying the libertarian activists who are their most energetic base, and just co-incidentally providing a wedge to divide the opposition.

It is really high time that rank-and-file small-c conservatives wake up to what a bunch of whack jobs these people who style themselves as libertarians really are. I am quite certain that many who would support a Conservative candidate in the rural ridings of B.C. have little idea of the vast social experiment many of these ideologues would like to perform if they get the chance.  They have an utterly romantic and unrealistic notion of what capitalism is, a well developed plan to ruthlessly dismantle everything they see as an impediment to the libertarian utopia they advocate and they are prone to various millenarian religions whose myth and propaganda provides a rationale that is as little based on fact and reason as their libertarian ideals are grounded in the reality-based world the rest of us live in.

We are a long way from sound fiscal policy and good government here folks. Let’s not fall for the old bait-and-switch con.

 

Derek Todd

Castlegar