On Tuesday, David A. Tomlinson passed away. For three decades, David had been the President of the National Firearms Association of Canada and an outstanding advocate of the rights of law-abiding Canadian firearms owners. I had the privilege of meeting David several times, and found him to be a true gentleman, and a gentle man. Canada has always had more gun controls than the United States, but the Canadian gun debate changed dramatically in the 1990s, when the Liberal government initiated a Kulturkampf against gun owners, aiming to eliminate the "masculine" culture which gun owners supposedly embodied. No one in Canada was more important in leading the resistance than David Tomlinson.
Although the situation of gun ownership in Canada is still precarious, there is a chance that Canada's rural culture of hunting and guns may survive. The corruption and enormous cost over-runs of the failed registry for long guns played a major role in the defeat of the Liberals by the anti-registration Conservatives in the latest Canadian election, in which Tomlinson worked very hard to mobilize citizen activists to defend their rights. He is a great example of how one man can make a difference.
The National Firearms Association website has a tribute to David. Below are some thoughts about David from his friend Cindy Lightheart:
Dave Tomlinson, president of Canada's National Firearm Association, passed away late in the evening of September 18, 2007. He was born on December 14, 1934, and is survived by a wife of 37 years, a daughter, and a grand-daughter.
I first met Dave four years ago. My son was charged with a minor firearms infraction that he was unaware of--until he was jailed over night. He couldn't afford a lawyer, so I called the NFA and met Dave. Dave cared very deeply about victims of violence with firearms, as well as the victims of unfair firearm laws.
We became partners when Dave nurtured within me, my hidden talent for finding the truth through research. He helped me develop as a writer, and as a firearms advocate. What is little known about Dave, is that he personally helped many people in need, both inside and outside the firearms community. For example, he helped one woman to attend college. He also personally assigned me as NFA Counselor.
Dave exerted a powerful influence on Canadian firearms politics and legislation during the 1970s, even before the creation of the NFA, but more so when he became president of the Association in 1984, being the primary force behind it, and doing so with little help. Since then, he was highly influential in the formation of our firearm laws, and in enhancing the size of the NFA. It currently has a membership of 100,000, and its membership has surged especially during the last few years. He provided lawyers (and non-lawyers) with briefing information about the Canadian laws, precedent cases, and research papers.
When Bill C-68, our infamous, poorly designed, and money-gobbling firearms law came into effect in 1995 (the Bill was so complicated that it took three years before it actually became the law of the land), Dave began to work harder than ever. He was able to confuse the bureaucrats who authored it, because he was an expert in finding loopholes in the law that made it difficult to enforce.
Dave wrote a very sensible, practical, easily comprehensible, and fair gun law to replace C-68, The Practical Firearms Control System , a proven means that would make Canada a safer country, as it attacks the criminal use of firearms, requires more effective firearm training, and is far more cost effective than the present system. However, the firearm-prohibitionist community in Canada has ignored it, to date.
He was very much aware of the harm that UN policies were perpetrating against civilians, globally. He took great pains to educate people to these concerns, to responsible firearm ownership, and to the benefits that civilian firearm ownership provides to society.
Dave Tomlinson was an expert at systems designing, and this talent carried over into his work at NFA, and into Canadian firearm politics. He was a man of morality, kindness, rational thinking, and diplomatic skills.
He was a dear and respected friend. I miss him greatly, as so many surely will.
-Cindy Lightheart, NFA Counselor