Monday, August 6, 2007

Aiming for Nonsense - U of T and Guns

It's hard to say I'm impartial on the subject - I was a member of the Hart House Pistol Club at the University of Toronto - but the weaseliness of the decision to close the gun range in the bowels of Hart House still puts my nose out of joint.

When I was there more than 20 years ago it was already known that it was much unloved by the politically correct. It would have been even worse if anyone could find the place. It occupies an area no more than 20 feet wide and as long as a bowling alley somewhere in the sub-basement underneath Hart House, accessible only by narrow halls and stairwells. It was specifically built as a gun range.

They floated the first trial balloon, saying the university needed the space, but then admitting it really wasn't any good for anything else, except storage.

Finally someone had the guts to admit the decision to close it was simply optics and ideology - there was no place for a gun range at a university. Of course the University of Toronto was the recruiting and training ground for thousands of young men who fought in several wars, where shooting a gun often came in handy.

Fortunately, I never had to shoot a gun in anger, or had any desire to point it at any living thing, but it is a lot of fun using one to poke holes in a piece of paper 50 feet away. I even have my name as best shot on one of the club's trophies - the turkey shoot. And for the weak-kneed, let me assure you that no turkeys were hurt in the process. The turkey was the prize. (In all honesty the "best shot" thing is a bit misleading, because half the scoring was random.

The shooters at the club were far from Rambos. In fact, they were a little bit nerdy and treated their target pistols like a concert musician treats a violin.

It's no surprise that the club hasn't had an accident or incident in its 88 years. If it was a safety issue, the University would first have to close down the football team which injures students on a daily basis; rugby, which encourages hurting people on a daily basis; and track and field with all its pulled muscles and heart attacks in waiting. I think the cafeterias hurt more people than the pistol club.

No doubt there will be a call to confiscate the javelins from the track & field shed as the weapons of choice from Spartans and other gang members from 2500 years ago.

No this is politics, where reality is completely unconnected with decision-making. Seems somehow appropriate that this kind of irrational thought takes place at a university.

Remember - when javelins are criminalized, only criminals will have javelins.