I don't think it's a good idea for civilians to be allowed to carry firearms outside of a hunting situation. While some would say they need them for self-protection, the studies on rates of violent crime in Canada suggest there is no real threat to the vast, vast majority of Canadian citizens. What's more, the likelihood of someone taking the gun and using it against the person is much higher, so it's actually more dangerous to carry weapons with you.
The nature of the question already implies that government has the power to grant and repeal rights. It does not, even when it acts as if it does. Why does a rose have thorns? Why do cats have claws? An armed society is a polite society. In the US, the the founders specified the right to be armed. One constitutional scholar stated that they did so in order for the people to have that right after the government took away the rest. The people were to retain the ultimate check on the power of the government, and alter or abolish it by armed revolution if necessary.
Most people think of civilians carrying/using firearms in cases of self-defense against crime. However, it is important to note that firearms are also useful in cases of animal attacks. In very rural areas, where help is not immediate, then civilians must have an effective and powerful means to defend themselves from human and animal attacks.
Secondly, many totalitarian dicatorships gain power in part by banning civilian ownership of guns. Look at countries today such as North Korea or even in the past such as Hitler's barring the Jews from owning guns. It is another form of ultimate control over a group of people which have no means to defend themselves against violent, extreme regimes.
My opinion is that, yes, all individuals know the level at which their protection would grant the need to operate a firearm whether it is for:
1. Self defense from an incoming attack.
2. Their own mental security of knowing that they have something that might scare away either an animal, or an intruder
3. The protection of their property in the event of an intrusion or disruption that could be warned off by the sound of a shotgun.
What must happen is that prior to issuing a permit every indivual must meet a criteria that guarantees that the person has no previous history of mental health, criminal or abusive behavior, nor felony involving the use of firearms. Yes, background checks of all sorts should be given because it should be a PRIVILEGE to work with something so delicate as a firearm.
If you said that people should not carry them, then there will be an underground movement that would want to do the opposite.
Some likely ways to advocate for this right:
1. There is a need for civilians to be armed so as to protect themselves from crime. The usual cliche on this one is "if guns are illegal, then only criminals will have guns." In such a case, law-abiding civilians would be helpless. This is probably the best argument.
2. This is sort of like #1 -- all citizens have the right to defend themselves. Taking away the right to carry a gun takes away this fundamental right.
3. Gun control laws don't help reduce crime and violence (arguably). Given this, there is no benefit to such laws and they should be repealed.
I'm not advocating the correctnesss of any of these arguments, just that these are the sorts of arguments that could be made.
It is not safe to entrust someone with a permit to hold a gun as having the weapon does increase the chances of you attacking someone. Also, self-defense is a possibility that more or less rarely occurs, so it is not as valid a reason for carrying firearms.
I believe following three are the most important arguments in favour of allowing civilians carrying firearms.
- A legal restriction on carrying arms is effective in preventing carrying and improper use of firearms by criminal. Honest people are not likely to misuse firearms even if they are legally allowed to carry it. By not allowing people to carry firearms, individuals are prevented from protecting from criminals, whereas it does not effectively prevent criminals from carrying and using arms.
- The police force is inadequate to prevent all the crimes at every place and at all the times. Common citizen also need to contribute to prevention of attempted crimes against them,their near and dear ones, and any other person in their vicinity. They can perform this function more effectively if civilians are allowed to carry firearms.
- Firearms are not only for criminal activities and for self defence. These are also used for other purposes such as sports and hunting. By not allowing common civilians to carry arms, we effectively prevent them from engaging in such activities. This is not justified.
It is difficult to answer your question in the simple yes/no mode. However you can proceed on these points:
1. A civilian may be allowed to carry firearms provided there is a strict licensing/permit system.
2. Civilians may carry firearms if such arms are required to be used for the protection of their personal safety.
3. Civilians may be allowed to carry firearms if there are very specific laws and an effective implementing system of those laws that ensure adequate penal measures in case of all misuses of the weapons.
But the permission granted to the civilian population to carry firearms definitely suggest an ineffectual governance unable to maintain the law and order system. A civilised society must be a weapon-free society.
In my opinion I would have to say NO! That would be like a virus spreading like wild fire. How would the criminal justice system decide on which civilian could carry a firearm. Would it be based on the civilians vulnerability towards its suroundings?. A frightened civilian just might bust a cap in anyone just because he or she felt threatened by the way another civilian was looking at he/she. I don't think it would be such a great idea.