Have a look at this screedy little letter to the editor from Ward 20 Councillor Adam Vaughn:
Guns aren’t welcome in Toronto
May 30, 2008 04:30 AM
Re:Targeting the good guys
Letters, May 29
It is interesting to note that letters criticizing Toronto City Council for closing down city-run shooting ranges were sent from Mississauga, Halifax, Wellesley, Ont., Pickering and Peterborough.
I supported shutting down the shooting ranges because I believe it is hypocritical for city council to call for a total ban on handguns, while supporting and in fact subsidizing gun culture at city-run facilities – especially when recreation programs to keep kids away from the draw of a street culture that too often includes weapons are underfunded in Toronto.
Letters from outside the city and indeed from across North America have been trickling in since council made its decision. My favourite letters are the ones being sent from the U.S. Gun owners there are now urging a boycott of Toronto. Considering that most of the problems with guns on our streets emanate from south of the border, I couldn’t be happier.
If all it took was closing a couple of shooting ranges to stop gun-toting Yanks from coming to our city, maybe we should have shut the doors on these clubs years ago.
As for people outside Toronto, you are free to shoot off your mouths in this city or any other town. Just don’t shoot off a gun in Toronto.
Adam Vaughan, City Councillor, Toronto
Somehow, Councillor, I do not think that all “gun-toting Yanks” are bringing their guns with them when they visit, any more than canoe-owning Canucks feel the need to drag along the kevlar or aluminum beast when they visit Manhattan.
You may also wish to consider that many of these gun owners are also ordinary workers, merchants, businesspeople and shareholders. Perhaps their companies routinely order goods or services from a Toronto-based company. Perhaps they will now make the effort to find a source outside of Toronto. Perhaps they will elect to sell their shares in Toronto-based firms and invest elsewhere. All without a single gun or stereotypical yokel crossing the border.
I realise your previous career in journalism and urban activism may have robbed you of the horse sense and rationality common in our species, but these are things you may wish to consider.
Finally, not every gun owner or sport shooter in this city has the time or the inclination to write indignant letters to the Toronto Star. Most of us have jobs, families and many other responsibilities to look after. Sparring with smug city pols on the pages of the local rag are not my idea of a fun time.
Speaking as a former sport shooter, I feel that firearms handling is a valuable skill and will serve any man or woman who bothers to learn its intricacies and obey the law well. They will, in the end, be much a more well-rounded human being with a healthy respect for these tools and their capabilities. Much more so than you would be if your only experience with them was via the distorting lens of Hollywood (or Hollywood North, for that matter). When you are aware of the power of even the weakest firearms, you are far more circumspect and careful in their employment.
The problem is that the increasing red tape, lack of good facilities, and anti-gun vitriol takes a lot of the fun out of the sport. Owning a gun is a lot of work. Myriad regulations that have to be complied with in the secure handling, transport and storage of the firearms. Forms upon endless forms, police and agency inspections, and so on. That in itself is a bit of a second career, and helps explain why many of the rifle club members were retirees. There is a lot of effort involved in gun ownership, and frankly, these days, I have bigger fish to fry and more pressing demands on my time.
The city (and some other owners) treated its ranges with obvious neglect. One of the ranges I used to shoot at was frequented by Olympic medal winners, but it was certainly not an Olympic-class facility. Tiny place hidden away in the basement of a much larger community centre, in a not-so-great part of town. The very first civilian range I ever encountered was located in the basement of a local fire hall, and when that hall was renovated over a decade ago, guess what part of the facility got ripped out completely?
If you have ever visited the dark, dusty range in the bowels of Hart House, you’ll be able to empathise. It is a place barely fit for non-sentient water heaters and HVAC vents, let alone people shooting prone, inhaling dust bunnies, trying to aim with precision at a tiny target fifty feet away. Not a fun place to shoot. I used to hate going there for tournaments.
If you were to take the onerous requirements of firearms ownership and apply them to the equipment for any other potentially dangerous sport (like say, parachuting or scuba diving or motorcross), you would see a rather precipitous drop in participation. So, congratulations on that front. Gun owners are slowly being inconvenienced and over-regulated to death, and many are finding that is simply not worth the ongoing time and resource committments.
And let’s not get into the assumptions smug urbanites will make about your mental health or capacity for violence, simply because your hobby involves a firearm, instead of a vintage cruiser bike.
Not altogether different from the assumptions and knee-jerk stupidity you’ve put on display for us in the Star, Councillor Vaughn.