Iceland, Ireland, Norway, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom have already arrived at this conclusion: Don't just reflexively ban 'legal' guns as a political placebo, rather, remove the 'good' ones from our public spaces. Disarm Canada's police.
Wherever the story of the Nova Scotia mass shooting goes next, and whatever the proposed political response, please remember this headline: "RCMP shot at fire hall during N.S. rampage but suspect wasn't there, watchdog says".
While a deranged gunman rolled around Portapique, Nova Scotia and its surrounds dressed like a cop, shooting at everyone-- the 'real deal' police appear to have been rolling around dressed like cops, well, shooting at everything. We wouldn't know this if it weren't for journalists asking questions, and eyewitnesses answering them.
In the aftermath of the deadliest mass shooting in modern Canadian history, our national police have become simultaneously our greatest embarassment and our only source of information about a matter of national importance. Chronically underfunded, many journalists are asleep at the wheel or publishing obvious inaccuracies, police spin and misinformation culled with minimal fact-checking, directly from Twitter. Some voices go so far as to complain that Canada's media institutions have failed on the whole to accurately or critically tell the real story.
Crucial context and facts about this national tragedy have been demonstrably mishandled, miscommunicated or omitted by the RCMP, including even the most basic of timelines. In the chaos of misinformation, it's been difficult, if not impossible for journalists to verify many parts of this story. Many of the most crucial facts may be gone for good.
Real harm has been done to the national discourse, because (as Canadaland's Jesse Brown put it), we've let an interested party write the bulk of the narrative. It's become very easy for uncritical media institutions and the police to bury elements of the story which are not favourable. A cop was killed alongside dozens of innocents, in a rampage lasting over 12 hours. Needless to say, the RCMP's public-affairs flacks are working overtime.
Now, all of the facts are not yet in, and it's not clear now whether they'll ever arrive. There were credible firsthand accounts from very early on in the incident, that there was a domestic violence component to this story. We've written before about the link between political extremism, mass shootings and domestic violence. The RCMP have already written off 'terror' links in this case, of course, but the police have long since proven that they have a bounded and politicized understanding of when it is appropriate to use that term. Whether or not he was an identifiable member of an organized terror group like the Freemen on the Land, The Base, or the 3% Militia, the killer certainly "fits the description" of the overly entitled North American white male nihilistic mass-shooter, complete with an unbridled enthusiasm for violence as a solution, access to firearms and obvious fetishization of the police. There is zero doubt in our minds that the killer would have been in good company at a pro-Trump rally.
Of course, the unoriginal functionaries in the Liberal government will rush to tell us that legally owned "assault" guns in Canada, (as if such truly existed), should now be banned as a matter of common-sense. This is absurd political pandering and this sloganeering addresses nothing, but it does follow a predictable pattern of overreacting as a strategy intended to obfuscate the real issues.
Other facts have come out which undermine the 'official' version: The perpetrator is reported to have flown an American flag on his property in a symbolically hostile gesture to his neighbours, did not legally possess firearms (in Canada) and carried out the largest mass shooting in modern Canadian history with unregistered police-style guns. This shooting rampage unfolded mere days after Donald Trump tweeted a call to American gun owners to 'Liberate' their states and stand up for their '2nd Amendment' rights. Loaded-gun rallies against ongoing COVID-19 lockdowns were held at statehouses across that country.
Only one day before the rampage, the Liberals elected to keep the US border closed as part of their COVID-19 pandemic response. As a country, Canada is in an increasingly difficult diplomatic position with our unruly and violent neighbours who have recently fumbled the management of a global health crisis. If it is a coincidence that Canadians were suddenly and abruptly forced to confront a civil discourse about gun rights, in lockstep with a neighbouring superpower, it certainly is a convenient one.
What we do know to be fact: In rural Nova Scotia, a denturist and 'local personality', with a history of violence, antagonism and anti-social behaviour, went on a rampage wearing a replica RCMP patrol uniform and driving a mocked-up RCMP patrol car. It is believed that he used the disguise of a police officer in order to gain access to at least some of his victims. He is reported to have used a number of unregistered 'police style' guns to carry out this atrocity. One of his victims was a 23 year veteran of the RCMP. Some of the victims were known to the killer, others were not. At last count, 22 people, plus the suspect, were killed in the violence which spanned 16 crime scenes. The suspect moved about freely, changing his appearance and vehicle at least once during the rampage. Some forensic evidence was destroyed or deliberately covered-up by arson.
Perhaps, upon reviewing the facts as they have been communicated, you'll agree with this general position statement: no person in a civil society should be conditioned to imagine themselves safe in the presence of someone who is carrying a lethal weapon, whether that weapon is 'legal' or not.
Blind acceptance of armed people in public should never be the default response, even if they're 'Good' guns, as if, again, such a thing actually existed! 'Good' guns as they have been defined for us, approach our houses, cars and community centers every day. They exist, we are told as part of the personally protective equipment necessary in some jobs. Good guns ride around on the hips of cops, conservation officers and security guards. Sometimes those good guns kill us too, though more often they seem to kill people we have nothing in common with, or so we're told. What we aren't told is that the presence of a gun in public implies the option of lethal force during any interaction with its bearer.
The solution should be obvious:
To address this horror and make sure it isn't repeated, don't legislate the removal of legal, safely stored guns from homes across the country-- legislate the removal of 'lawfully' armed people with 'good' guns from public spaces, except in the gravest of emergencies.
As the facts become clear about the vulnerabilities which the killer exposed and exploited during the act of mass-murder, it is clear that many of his victims felt nothing out of the ordinary about being compelled to interact with a man with a gun. If he flashed his lights in their mirror, or knocked on their door-- the uniform and marked car said 'you can trust me' and 'you pay my bills', while his weapons communicated the usual full range of ominous outcomes between and 'you better do what I say' and 'I will end you'. This time it was the worst-case scenario.
In a rational world, an armed person approaching you, your home, your vehicle-- would be viewed rightly as a threat. The notoriously radical SJW (full sarcasm here) Thomas Hobbes pointed out in his renowned woke-bible 'Leviathan' that going armed in public communicates an obvious and inherent mistrust in your 'countrymen'.
The police go armed in public because they do not trust the rest of us, and they have conditioned us to 'civilianize' ourselves and accept that mistrust as a necessary power imbalance. Of course, it has always been the other way around, it is the public who cannot and should not ever reflexively trust the police.
The killer inflicted fear and terror as he drove around in a police car with a gun using this reign of terror as an outlet for his impotent rage. In his own uniform, in his own car-- he tried to impose his own law on the people around him. Fitting, indeed, that he met his end at the hands of the people who were very likely his greatest heroes.
Perhaps you will agree, as logic dictates that it is not time to ban guns, but rather to ban the use of guns in this country. Perhaps 'ban the use of guns' is the political slogan 2020 so badly needs. This means banning those guns whose sole use is to underwrite public interactions with the threat of violence or to compel people to take an action desired by the agents of the state.
This isn't just a rhetorical trick: Society has arrived at the point where the easiest cover for a mass murderer is pretending to be a cop. If that grim reality doesn't convince you the institution of policing has been thoroughly and permanently compromised, nothing will.
Law abiding gun owners weren't the problem in Portapique, but that was the state's default position. It is time for a national conversation about why we allow for the presence of a special class of armed people in public, as part of our daily lives. This means that it's not time for more politically-motivated gun control measures targeting lawful firearms owners: it is time to socially distance guns from our public places, and any politician who tells you otherwise, is a charlatan.
If the politicians are serious and don't want this horrifying tragedy to repeat itself, then they likewise should provide real solutions which address real issues. Of course, It's very likely that the politicians aren't serious. Policing isn't the only institution under fire, political journalism in Canada, already a struggling sector, appears to be another unintended victim of the mass-shooting. We've seen the PMO suggesting to media what is fit to print, and concerningly, this is echoed in a call for public incuriousness about the motive in this case. That call came from Canada's own state broadcaster, CBC.
The CBC's suggestion that finding motivations is 'rarely helpful' following mass killings is an indictment of the permissiveness, punch-pulling and political spin afflicting the breadth of Canada's legacy media.
We'll spell it out one last time: The Liberal Government's proposed "assault weapons ban" is an obvious political placebo, designed to score points while facilitating inaction. Don't count on pro-establishment journalists to correctly assess the real issues at play, or to use logic to deduce the true root causes of this tragedy.
The state has made it painfully clear that they would rather you forget the what, how and why of this while they clumsily ram through inaccurate half-measures and pass it off as a balanced reaction.
Do not forget for a moment: Police have said the killer's weapons were not registered in Canada. To suggest a ban on registered, lawfully obtained property as a response to nihilistic violence is as abhorrent as it is duplicitous. The killer was able to kill, not just because of his access to weapons, but rather-- because his fake uniform afforded him ample opportunity to use them.
It is to be expected that in the coming days we'll see Liberal comms accounts and NDP-affiliated 'digital campaigners' circulating politically opportune petitions to ban guns or assault weapons from Canada. Please don't confuse this for a real attempt at making political change-- they're just trying to cynically juice their mailing lists by baiting people with the latest hot-button non-issue.
'Good' guns in the hands of people we are socially conditioned to trust, are the real problem. Iceland, Ireland, Norway, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom have already arrived at this conclusion. Don't just reflexively ban 'legal' guns as a political placebo, rather, remove the 'good' ones from our public spaces. Disarm Canada's police.