Michael Major: When will we allow women to arm themselves for self-defence?
With the recent tragic beating death in Newton of Julie Paskall, an innocent hockey mom, there has been a lot of discussion about what to do to prevent such tragedies in the future. One topic that has been absent is allowing people to arm themselves for self-defence. We all have an absolute right to be safe and secure, and should be given the tools to protect ourselves.
Article 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states:
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.
As well, Article 3 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
If we have the human right to security of person, then why do we not have the right to properly secure our person from attack or more effectively defend from attack? Sections 34 and 35 of the Criminal Code of Canada outline our rights to self-defence. However, regulations that cover what is a prohibited weapon list pepper spray and Tasers as prohibited weapons. Therefore, no one could legally carry either to ward off attack. Police are rarely able to intervene during an assault, and someone under attack may only have seconds to stop the attack from happening or continuing.
Both Tasers and pepper spray are less than lethal weapons and, when properly deployed, give anyone under attack valuable seconds to escape. We all have the right to self-defence, but when the criminals arm themselves we still handicap the law-abiding citizens by not allowing them to carry less than lethal weapons for their own defence. If the bad people in this world ignore the law and the regulations, then those laws and regulations only affect the honest, law-abiding citizens.
If someone obeys the law, then can that person not be trusted to continue to abide by the law even in possession of a personal defence weapon?
A possible model is to have a concealed carry permit issued by the RCMP to people whom pass a criminal records check and take a course on safe operation of their chosen weapon as well as their legal responsibilities. This would ensure that at least those who carry weapons for defence know what the law is and understand the legal implications of their use. This also casts doubt into a potential attacker’s mind because they will not know who may be ready to fight back.
An argument against such an idea is that we can not guarantee that when attacked someone will be able to use their weapon to stop said attack. We can not guarantee that a CCTV camera will film the attack or that the attacker will be caught or that the victim will survive. The fact is that during an attack there are limited options available to those under attack and no guarantees. What we all need are tools in our self-defence tool box. A weapon is just another tool to use to prevent oneself from becoming another crime statistic. Pepper spray or a Taser is better than trying to use one’s fists or feet. Sometimes it’s not possible to fight the attacker off or just simply “run away”, and a quicker, more effective option should be available. Thousands of volts of electrical current or a shot of OC pepper spray to the eyes can prevent a sexual assault, and isn’t that worth it?
Ultimately, we all live in the same world, and in this world there are evil people who always stand ready to do harm and are constantly looking for victims. It is time we stop being victims and fight back against those who prey on us. While we wait for legislators to fix the underlying problems, we need to be prepared to do what we must to protect ourselves and our families.