I’ve had this article in mind for a while and had some time to reflect on and write it.
See that rifle above? It’s a semi-automatic Browning BAR. Looks like a cool hunting rifle, right? There are thousands of Canadian hunters that rely on this rifle to take deer, moose, and other game each year. It doesn’t feel like it, but that rifle, and many like it are living on borrowed time.
My Primary Reason For Joining the NFA: Damned Politics
Gun owners are a pretty convenient target for the Liberal and NDP parties. Gun ownership is clearly a more conservative value, the general public is largely uninformed, and gun control is a popular item within liberal circles. It is also very easy to look at gun owners as disconnected from the political process: despite 2 million licensed gun owners, most political parties hedge their bets that we’re already voting Conservative or that we’ll just roll over without a fight. What has made gun rights strong in the US is a party-agnostic association, the NRA. With 5 million members, the NRA is able to project an engaged membership, effectively lobby, and apply pressure to both parties.
Canadian gun owners have already taken a few hits especially in the 90’s. Back then, even “conservative” parties were taking part in anti-gun legislation. Thanks to recent Conservative party wins and gun owner political activity, the tide of gun control has been halted, at least temporarily. Federally, Liberals have had gun control within 2 of their last 3 platforms: calling for a ban on handguns in one platform and a wholesale ban on semi-automatic firearms in the other. That would include all of the rifles shown in this article. Current polls are showing a Liberal lead, so we can’t have all our eggs in the Conservative basket.
If firearms owners don’t build strong political force by building a strong association with healthy membership numbers, we’ll just get taken to the cleaners when more liberal parties take control federally. That’s when we’ll see poorly worded, restrictive legislation designed to make being a gun owner more onerous, costly, and increase the risk: financially, if a firearm gets banned with no compensation, or legally if poorly worded laws get enacted. I already take a printed copy of RCMP bulletin 72 whenever I go to the range on the off-chance that I get pulled over and have to explain the law to an officer.
What Does All This Mean for Hunters?
Having a powerful national firearms association is insurance against getting marginalized. I may not ever make use of the firearms that they fight to protect or completely agree with how they go about representing me, but the important part, to me at least, is that they’re fighting for me on a level I can’t. They’re working to make sure that firearms aren’t decimated like they were in the UK, or red-taped to death like in Australia.
Did I convince you? Personal NFA membership is $35 a year, go sign up!