If banning “military-style” assault rifles outright would improve public safety, Neil Tucker wouldn’t have a problem.
However, he doesn’t believe this is the case.
Tucker, president of the Discovery Shooting Club in the Bonavista area, sent a letter to the editor on the topic — laying out reasons why the believes a ban on military-style assault rifles would be pointless and a waste of funds.
In his letter, Tucker addresses the Liberal Party’s plan to ban military style assault rifles and urges people who think similarly to use their vote against the plan.
As part of its platform, the Liberals have stated an intention to ban these types of weapons. “For starters, we’re going to ban all military-style assault rifles, including the AR-15. These weapons are specifically designed to cause mass human casualties and have no place in our society,” the party maintains.
As of this writing, the Liberals are the only federal party to specifically mention banning military-style assault rifles as part of its platform.
The Packet met with Tucker at the shooting range in Elliston to further discuss his stance.
He said firearms are something he’s thought of as an interest or hobby for many years. Aside from being the president of the local shooting club, Tucker is also a recreationist with the Great War Living History committee, dressing in authentic uniform and with replica equipment for soldiers in the First World War era.
“Ever since my father took out his old .22 rifle, I went for my first shot when I was probably 11 years old or something. Ever since then, I’ve been very interested in it." He adds it's probably the case for many people across the country.
While he doesn’t usually come forward in political matters, he strongly felt the need to speak out.
He says the local shooting club has a fluctuating membership of about 100 people, but there are plenty across the province and beyond who agree with his viewpoint.
Tucker built his own AR-15 rifle from parts. He’s owned an AR-15 since the early 1990s.
“The definition of an assault rifle is a compact weapon that fires intermediate cartridge that’s capable of automatic fire,” he says.
Tucker says there are ways to present how some of the proposed banned weapons are no more dangerous than certain other non-restricted firearms.
As an example, Tucker presented two types of guns at the shooting range — an AR-15 restricted rifle, which already has current limitations on how it can be acquired, the size of the magazine and a hunting use ban — and a pump action shotgun, which he says holds more ammunition, has shells with one-ounce lead bearings which cause more damage at close range than the rifle's smaller bullets, and has a rate of fire comparable to the rifle.
The shotgun is not a restricted weapon.
In Canada, semi-auto rifles are limited to magazines of five rounds. The overwhelming majority of AR-15 rifles fire the .223 Remington cartridge. High-capacity, 30-round magazines and greater have long been banned in Canada. There is also extensive screening in place to own these weapons, he says.
“I believe there needs to be some restrictions on firearms,” he says. “You can’t have the wild west and everyone running around gun toting. You’ve got to have some restrictions in a civilized society.”
Another point of contention for Tucker is the definition of a “military-style” rifle, saying it’s not clearly defined.
“Most any semi-auto rifle can be interpreted to fit such all-encompassing terminology. The AR-15 rifle has been specifically named but the common SKS rifle fits such a description as well as any other semi auto.
“If there’s 75,000 (AR-15s) in the country, then I guarantee you there’s a million or half a million of (the SKS),” he says.
He says enforcing these bans would be so expensive, it would be best to use that money on something like healthcare or infrastructure development and upkeep.
“(Why) use public money to confiscate the public’s private property?”
Aside from the administrative cost to track down so many rifles for the ban, he says border control on weapons coming from the United States would also be significant.
“The United States is the world’s largest producer of firearms,” he says.
“These weapons invariably will make their way into the hands of criminals, not legal target shooters.”
He adds confiscated guns will include those owned by registered firearms owners, not the targeted dangerous criminals.
And to those who ask the purpose of these guns if they can't be used for hunting, Tucker offered up an example he believes shows their merit for enthusiasts.
He goes to St. John’s every year with the rod and gun club for a “three gun” competition, where a timed target shoot using a rifle, handgun and shotgun is seen as a sporting competition.
“For rifles, almost everybody uses those AR-15 rifles,” he says. “It’s just a sport like anything else.”
He reiterates that the country’s current laws and restrictions are more than reasonable enough to ensure public safety and this initiative is just for appearances — not for making a significant difference.
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