Bowling for Columbine begins with a scene of Michael Moore receiving a hunting rifle as a promotional gift for opening a savings account. While shouldering the weapon, Moore turns to a bank employee and asks her whether she thinks it a good idea to hand out free rifles to strangers.
I remember watching the movie in a theatre and being hit by the waves of laughter: everybody thought, "Those crazy Americans," safe in the knowledge that what we were witnessing on screen was a bizarre foreign rite far removed from what our own society would tolerate.
That was seven years ago--long before a small minority of my fellow countrymen decided to hand over federal office to a conclave of moral dwarves whose sacred mission it is to push our faces into every malodorous cloud of toxic cultural gas that wafts across the southern border.
Now we hear that the noisome cranks of the pro-gun Canadian Shooting Sports Association (CSSA) plan to whoop it up in style at their annual general meeting in Mississauga. They've arranged to dazzle their guests with a special raffle prize: no, not a Chapters gift certificate; no, not tickets for two for a performance of La Sacre du printemps; no, not a coffee-table book on the Group of Seven. The lucky winner will get a semi-automatic Beretta PX4 Storm handgun.
Now, this may disappoint those more in the market for a link-fed 5.56 mm M249 Squad Automatic Weapon with complimentary five-metre belt of armour-piercing rounds, but this Beretta is a special "Canadian Edition" of the handgun, something sure to impress whoever will get the honour of being mugged at its barrel point once it is stolen, sold, and bought by some thug.
The featured speaker at this lugubrious event is to be the "Conservative" Party's own Garry Breitkreuz. In a city swamped with American handguns and desperate to snuff out the rising tide of gun-related violence, Breitkreuz will be toasted for his undertaking to abolish the federal gun registry and relax controls on handguns and other restricted weapons.
For the record, I've never seen the value of a long-gun registry, and I consider that particular component of the Liberal program to have been a costly mistake. The members of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police disagree, however, saying that they "strenuously oppose any weakening of Canada's current firearms control regime". Despite my own misgivings, then, I suppose I shall have to defer to the cops on that issue: they're the experts.
What really astounds me here is the rank stupidity of a Member of Parliament waltzing into a town still mourning over its dead in order to clink champagne flutes with a gaggle of uneducable ghouls who think a semi-automatic is an acceptable choice of party favour (and who are so apparently stupid as to forget that only someone licensed to own the fucking thing will be legally free to take it home). One wonders if the same crowd attempted to book a New York ballroom for a "Celebrating Thirty Years of Airline Hijacking" party on September 12th, 2001. Perhaps we should take this as confirmation that Harper and the CPC have simply written Toronto off (as well as Quebec and the Maritimes) and are happy to serve it whatever offensive diarrheic effluent flows out of its members' distempered souls.
I wonder, though: why would the CSSA be so banal and unimaginative in its choice of raffle prize? Why not go for something roughly equivalent to a handgun but with a playful soupçon of novelty?
Think about it: a handgun is designed only to kill human beings. Ho hum. Why not award the lucky guy something designed only to torture or maim human beings? Such a device would be much less ethically objectionable, as wounding is more humane than outright killing (football and hockey players wound each other as a matter of course), and it would threaten less danger if it ended up in criminal hands. Using it might also be so much more fun.
But for some reason, whilst so many of us accept the propriety of a homicide-delivering handgun as a raffle gift, we would be stunned and appalled to hear of an MP’s complicity in handing out thumbscrews, garrotes, cattle prods and switchblades. Why is that?
Perhaps we should ask Garry Breitkreuz...
We'll not get the chance to ask anything of anyone, since Breitkreuz's invitation has been withdrawn by event organisers--meaning that someone on Breitkreuz's staff, realising the ghastliness of the optics, asked the CSSA to "withdraw" the invitation as a way of liberating the MP from the obligation to attend without making him appear to be running away from public outrage.
Happily, the raffle will go ahead. Good luck to those of my readers who plan to compete.