U of Toronto Range Falls To Political Pressure
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U of T to shut down shooting range
Members of campus rifle and revolver clubs blast decision to close 88-year-old facility as unfair attack ...
July 30th, 2007 10:28 AM
U of Toronto Range Falls To Political Pressure
U of T to shut down shooting range
Members of campus rifle and revolver clubs blast decision to close 88-year-old facility as unfair attack on 'politically incorrect sport'
Headshot of Anthony Reinhart
July 30, 2007
Concerns about the "sinister uses" of guns in society have prompted University of Toronto officials to rid the campus of its 88-year-old sport shooting range, despite its continued popularity and spotless safety record.
"In today's world, even the perception of tolerance of guns and gun violence is seen as a negative," said Catherine Riggall, the university's vice-president of business affairs, who approved the decision recently. "This is the last university in the country to have a gun range on campus ... it's just not seen as a priority activity."
Leaders of the 400-member Hart House Rifle and Revolver Clubs argue otherwise, saying the decision reflects a distorted view of a calm and highly technical activity, perpetuates unfair stereotypes and blocks off an avenue to explore and debate uncomfortable ideas.
"The big distinction is that shooting is a politically incorrect sport," said Kristofer Coward, a graduate student in mathematics who has been a member of the rifle club's executive and the university's governing council.
"The university is the last place in the world that should be shying away from politically incorrect things."
The shooting clubs' woes are unfolding against a wider backdrop of concern about firearms because of high-profile incidents of gun violence in Toronto and elsewhere. Less than 10 days ago, an 11-year-old Toronto boy was killed by a stray bullet during a gang-related shootout, prompting Ontario Attorney-General Michael Bryant to call for a nationwide ban on handguns. As well, campus shootings at Virginia Tech in April and at Montreal's Dawson College last September still resonate.
Earlier this year, a U of T committee reviewed the activities at Hart House, which houses recreational clubs and events for students and alumni. Among the committee's 12 recommendations was a call to abolish the rifle and revolver clubs because, "while firearms and other weapons can serve some purposes, they are also a painful reminder and a symbol (and, regardless of the safeguards, a potential agent) of more sinister uses."
The committee called on Ms. Riggall, who has authority to supersede a campus-wide gun ban and allow guns to be used by the shooting clubs, to withdraw Hart House's long-standing permission to keep firearms on its range.
The recommendation gathered support en route to her desk, when vice-president and provost Vivek Goel weighed in with a memo to the university affairs board saying, "We are reminded by tragic events at other universities and colleges that the safety of our students and our entire community is of paramount importance."
This prompted a mild rebuttal from Hart House warden Margaret Hancock, who, in another memo, wrote that linking the shooting clubs' activities to those "tragic events" was "not necessary or accurate." She also clarified that abolition of the clubs was beyond the university's power to decide, and that they could "continue to exist and to shoot elsewhere off campus."
Still, supporters of the two clubs don't see why target shooting in a secure setting - complete with an alarm system, direct video feed to campus police, dead-bolted doors, restricted access to keys, a photo ID requirement and separate, bolted-down safes for guns and ammunition - should pay the price for the complex societal problem of gun violence.
In his own letter to U of T's governing council, Mr. Coward quoted the university's statement of institutional purpose, which says, "It is this human right to radical, critical teaching and research with which the University has a duty above all to be concerned."
In the decidedly non-threatening setting of his office in the Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences, where fearsome-looking equations cover the blackboards, the bespectacled, sandal-clad Mr. Coward and three other unlikely looking gun users voiced frustration with what they see as a complete mischaracterization of their pastime.
"It was not what I was expecting," Mr. Coward, 27, said of his first visit to the range four years ago, where the calm, quiet focus of the shooters belied everything he had seen about guns in movies.
"The whole thing was almost anti-adrenal; in fact, it was downright sedate," he said. "It's like yoga without the hippies."
Seated beside him, Avianna Chao readily agreed. Ms. Chao, a 32-year-old computer engineer and U of T grad, recently won a gold medal in the air pistol event at the Pan American Games.
"Shooting is the safest sport I know," said Ms. Chao, who will represent Canada at next summer's Olympics in Beijing. While she has seen injuries in other sports, "I've never seen a shooting accident at a major games. We have medical people who travel with us, and they must be the most bored people on the planet."
Shooting remains a sanctioned event at international university competitions, said Ms. Chao, who sees Mr. Bryant's call for a handgun ban as a knee-jerk, political response that will punish responsible shooters, but have little impact on a social problem as nuanced as gang culture. Crime, she pointed out, has also been banned, but gang members apparently "didn't get the memo."
Courtney Gibson, a 32-year-old firearms safety instructor at Hart House, said shooting clubs not only teach responsible use of guns but also they screen, and routinely reject, would-be owners whose attitudes raise concerns.
While he agreed that gun violence is a significant problem, Mr. Gibson said he can't see how confiscating guns from people who advocate and teach their safe use, and are willing to jump through numerous hoops to own them, will address it.
"It's easy to look at it as just gun crime, and say 'let's ban guns,' " he said. "It's tough to ask the other questions: What are the underlying issues, and how do we prevent this?"
Last edited by Captain Crunch; July 30th, 2007 at 01:05 PM.
Reason: Correct Thread Title
"Each worker carried his sword strapped to his side." Nehemiah 4:18
Guns Save Lives. Paramedics Save Lives. But...
Paramedics With Guns Scare People!
July 30th, 2007 10:51 PM
Frickin' idiots.....can't believe they are able to string together shooting club = gangs
So much for higher education.
July 30th, 2007 11:13 PM
Hell, I can't even believe they can string together complete sentences that requires an original thought!
The PC force are such robots anymore!
"The gun is the great equalizer... For it is the gun, that allows the meek to repel the monsters; Whom are bigger, stronger and without conscience, prey on those who without one, would surely perish."
July 31st, 2007 12:18 AM
I wonder how many other sports there have 400 paying members and their own insurance, plus being Federally regulated?
July 31st, 2007 10:22 AM
Canada is going the route of the UK
A real man loves his wife, and places his family as the most important thing in life. Nothing has brought me more peace and content in life than simply being a good husband and father.
July 31st, 2007 10:57 AM
Well don't forget our wonderful elected officials here in the US. If they have their way we will be there before long.
Originally Posted by pgrass101
NRA Rifle Coach
NRA Pistol Instructor
NRA Personal Protection In the Home Instructor
--- Some of the friendliest people I have ever talked to are gun owners and shooters and according to the gun activists we are the mass murders and felons of the nation???
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