Tuesday morning I made the long drive back to Minneapolis from Waterloo. Not even ten minutes into my drive, the morning news update was aired.
The first story reported that a woman from the Kitchener area named Nadia Gehl had been shot in early February while at a bus stop close to her home. Waterloo police finally apprehended three suspects last week-her husband and two of his friends. The second story aired described a deadly shooting in Toronto.
Over the summer, the pro-gun community in Canada incessantly argued that gun violence in their country is so low that legislation to decrease and prevent it is not warranted. This assertion, clearly, is easily challenged simply by listening to or watching the news.
The correlation between gun control and domestic violence cannot be ignored, nor can the correlation between gun control and crime more generally.
Domestic violence is a gendered issue, and unfortunately is always likely to be. As a result, the use of firearms in domestic violence is also a gendered issue; this is why IANSA launched the Disarming Domestic Violence campaign this summer.
Canada is one of four countries with harmonized gun control and domestic violence laws. As such, Canada’s Firearms Act has been internationally recognized as good practice and is being used as a model for other countries looking to implement similar laws.
It is not perfect. Nobody is pretending it is. There were cost overruns in its implementation, and some existing loopholes need to be closed. That being said, its imperfections are very small, and eliminating any portion of the Firearms Act would result in a decline of public safety and increased accessibility of firearms to perpetrators of domestic violence and other dangerous individuals.
While reflecting on the Firearms Act and my time in Canada, I feel the need to address the treatment I received from the pro-gun community this summer, specifically from members of CanadianGunNutz.com, described as Canada’s largest firearm trade and discussion forum.
According to the pro-gun community, I was in Canada trying to take away their rights. The gunnutz community repeatedly accused me of attacking their personal freedoms, namely their freedom to carry firearms with them at all times, no matter where they are or what they are doing. If they want to carry their gun with them to run errands or even just to buy a pack of a smokes, this should be their prerogative, is what they argued.
They told me I should be ashamed of myself based on my ‘sickening’ attempt of emotional appeal when linking gun control and domestic violence. Newsflash, Gunnutz: Domestic violence is emotional. It is horrifying and it is unfair. Pretending the issue does not exist does nothing to help make it go away.
Not only did the pro-gun community constantly try attacking the legitimacy of my work and research, but they also attacked me personally; I have never experienced such degrading language or inappropriate behavior by people who claim to be adults.
What was most laughable about the treatment I received was the fact that the entire time the pro-gun community was trying to discredit my work, they were also trying to get me removed from the country. Paranoia and fear runs rampant among the gunnutz, and as such they try to ‘stomp out’ (their words, not mine) any opinion that differs from their own.
Among other tactics, the pro-gun community tried to get me removed from Canada by searching for me as a registered lobbyist, looking into ways of getting my Visa revoked (I did not need one, which none of them were able to figure out), starting a letter writing campaign to the dean of my school based on my ‘lack of academic integrity’, and beginning the process of filing paperwork with the Ontario Human Rights Commission claiming that I was an American terrorist in their country attacking their rights.
They even posted the link to my Facebook page on their forum and suggested that everyone try to befriend me. Making futile attempts to get me kicked out of Canada is one thing, but seeking me out on Facebook is disturbing and scary (especially when the screen name of the person posting the link is Nightmare). I was forced to take down the picture I had of me a friend laughing, because some individuals began making lewd and suggestive comments about it.
I was warned before arriving that the treatment I would receive would be aggressive and mean, but I honestly did not expect it to be as bad as it was. Gunnutz.com and the pro-gun community are doing themselves no favors by attacking rather than debating those whose opinions vary from their own.
While their constant attacks were frustrating this summer, their tactics of aggression and bullying did not work on me, and have not worked on Parliament. The Firearms Act was passed into law for good reason, and Parliament continues to recognize its benefits by upholding the legislation in its entirety.