(Via Sandefur) Ninth Circuit judge Andrew Kleinfeld and his wife Judith have an article in Opinion Journal and the American Enterprise Magazine comparing American and Canadian cultures. One statement in the piece puzzled me:
We asked one of the Canadian border guards what Hyderites were like. "Free spirits. Wild. They have guns, you know." We were asked if we had any guns each time we drove back to Stewart, since handguns (a near-universal in Alaskan bear country) are contraband in Canada.
I mistakenly thought that Judge Kleinfeld was saying that handguns, so common in Alaska, were illegal in Canada. This confused me, because one of the main themes of Bowling for Columbine is that Canadians somehow manage to own lots of guns without having a crime rate similar to that of the U.S.; therefore our crime problem has more to do with a culture of fear -- supposedly evidenced by our using locks, in contrast to our open-doored northern neighbors -- than with gun ownership.
Of course, Kleinfeld meant contraband in its stricter definition, i.e. "goods prohibited from being imported or exported." (Contraband per se is property that is in and of itself unlawful to possess, produce, or transport; derivative contraband is property that is unlawful because it is used in committing an unlawful act.) Handguns with barrels less than 4.14 in. long, other firearms with barrels less than 18 in. long and all automatics cannot be brought into Canada.
However, "[t]ravellers can bring a non-restricted firearm, such as a sporting rifle or a shotgun to Canada for hunting purposes, for use in competitions, as part of an in-transit movement through Canada, or for protection against wildlife in remote areas," provided that they declare this weapon. Whether a handgun -- as opposed to a hunting rifle -- is an ideal weapon against an Alaskan bear, I cannot say.
In the U.S., a citizen bringing in a gun she owned in the U.S. must show her proof of prior ownership to customs when she lands in the States. If she acquires a firearm that someone else brought from the U.S., or if she buys one abroad, she will have to obtain an import permit from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.