Thursday, September 28, 2006

Shooting up in the Great Lakes

I see this as a prime example of how ridiculous our country (well really - the people who run the country) is getting. I don't think this is necessary at all.

From the Globe and Mail (Toronto):

Great Lakes machine guns raise ire in Canada

U.S. Coast Guard conducting live-ammunition training drills

The United States Coast Guard has started to patrol the Great Lakes with machine guns mounted on their vessels and is conducting live-ammunition training drills on the U.S. side to prepare officers to combat terrorists flooding across the border from Canada by boat.

The automatic-weapon drills started earlier this year but came to light only in the past two weeks after information about the Coast Guard's move to create 34 permanent live-fire training zones in the Great Lakes was published in the U.S. federal register.

Since the beginning of the year, the Coast Guard have conducted 24 drills, each time firing about 3,000 rounds of lead bullets about a third of the size of a fishing-line sinker from light-weight machine guns in waters at least eight kilometres from the Canadian border and U.S. shores. Two more target practices are scheduled for this year...

Toronto Mayor David Miller has said the move violates a 90-year-old treaty that forbids weapons on the lakes, but the U.S. Coast Guard, however, says that is not an issue since Canadian and U.S. officials agreed 18 months ago that arming small craft wouldn't violate the treaty...

He said the target practice violates a treaty signed after the War of 1812 that outlaws military weapons on the Great Lakes, tampering with two centuries of peaceful history.

“This is very much the wrong direction, to militarize the border between these two countries,” he said in an interview. “It's symbolically important and practically important that the border remain open and doesn't become militarized.”

“At a time ... when there is interest in restoring the integrity of the lakes,” he writes in a letter to the Prime Minister, “it is most disturbing that the U.S. is contemplating exercises that will militarize the lakes, cause pollution and environmental degradation, restrict shipping and recreation, and change the peaceful border between Canada and the U.S.”

Far more people are killed on Toronto streets by illegal U.S. guns crossing the border, he said, than bloody-minded terrorists from Canada crossing south. “The idea that terrorists are flooding across the Great Lakes is utter nonsense,” he said. Until this year, U.S. Coast Guard vessels carried only handguns and small-calibre rifles. But anti-terrorist furor has led to a bolstering of firepower...

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