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Thinking Bigly on Gun Owners, the Border, & President Trump’s Art of the Deal

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Article first appeared at Ammoland.com

Arizona -(Ammoland.com)- – It was not long ago, that taking guns into Canada, a nation with vast areas of wilderness, was uncomplicated and straightforward for U.S. citizens. There were virtually no restrictions on rifles and shotguns.

The Canadian government required a simple seal on handguns to ensure they were not fired in Canada. If the seal were broken when the border was crossed going back into the United States, an explanation was in order. It had to be good. That changed in January of 2001.

As more and more restrictions on the ownership of firearms have been pushed by leftists on both sides of the border, crossing the border with firearms has become a legal minefield to trap the unwary. The nadir was reached when a U.S. citizen had to register any rifle or shotgun they brought into Canada, which included a $25 fee that was good for a few months.  All long guns in Canada had to be registered.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper was able to keep a campaign promise and remove the failed long gun registry. The $25 fee for crossing the border with a long gun remains. It is virtually impossible for an ordinary U.S. citizen to transport a handgun in Canada.

Hundreds are trapped in inadvertent offenses every year. Taking a handgun into Canada, as many find prudent when traveling to Alaska, is so complicated and confusing as to be legally impossible for an ordinary traveler. Bringing personal guns from Canada into the U.S., as many Canadians wish to do when they travel south for the winter, has numerous restrictions and difficulties.

President Trump and his administration are renegotiating the Canadian and U.S. trade agreement, reconstructed from the failed North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to the United States Mexico and Canada agreement (USMCA).

The Trump administration should include a return to less regulation of personal firearms. Any Canadian with a Possession and Acquisition (PAL) license should be able to bring legal firearms into the United States without a problem. Any legal U.S. resident not barred from exercising their Second Amendment rights should be able to carry legal firearms into Canada.

It is unreasonable that both governments allow their legal residents to travel freely with firearms inside their borders, but restrict each other’s residents when they cross the border.

President Trump has written, if you are going to think, you may as well think big. The same logic works for South of the border. We should include in the trade deal the ability of any Mexican who may legally possess firearms in Mexico, traveling lawfully in the U.S., to legally possess them in the U.S., with the reciprocity that legal U.S. residents may possess legal personal firearms in Mexico when legally traveling there.

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Before 1972, possession of .22 rifles and pistols, by U.S. citizens in Mexico, was nearly unregulated. As Mexico has become more dangerous, paradoxically, the legal ability to be armed for self-defense has become almost impossible.

President Trump, his administration, and American gun owners should all think bigly about the Mexican, Canadian, and United States trade deal.

The reform should include removing restrictions on legal gun owners transporting their property across both borders.  Negotiations could be about ensuring that guns are not illegally transferred to prohibited possessors. All three nations have irrational restrictions on some types of personal arms.

Canadians are not allowed to have magazines of more than ten rounds in pistols and five rounds in rifles. U.S. citizens are generally restricted from possessing rifles and shotguns with barrels less than 16 and 18 inches, respectively. Mexicans are restricted from having pistols and rifles in many common “military” calibers.  It could all be worked out. All three nations require that guns moving across the border be declared.  Moving away from bureaucratic inflexibility, and toward more personal freedom, can be done.

Citizens who are legally possessing guns, in all three countries, are not a problem. They have exemplary records. They commit almost no crime. In the United States, people with carry permits are more law abiding than police officers. I am sure the same holds for Canadians with PAL licenses and Mexicans who obtain permits to own firearms.

The mass punishment principle has always been wrong. Punishing the mass of the innocent to get at a few bad apples is terrible policy. Punishing the enormous mass of legal gun owners because criminals break the law is a stupid way to attack a problem confined to small numbers of violent criminals.

A growing body of criminological evidence shows that serious violence (and much other crime) is concentrated among remarkably small numbers of “hot” people and places. We now know that homicide and gun violence are overwhelmingly concentrated among serious offenders operating in groups: gangs, drug crews, and the like representing under half of one percent of a city’s population commit half to three-quarters of all murders.

As recently as 1972 for Mexico, and 2001 for Canada, legal gun owners were able to travel between all three large North America nations with arms and few limitations. It worked then. It can work again.

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There is no logical reason to prevent the travel of legally armed residents, only the superstitious fear of firearms in the hands of ordinary people by hoplophobes and would be dictators.


About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30-year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

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