Prime Minister Harper's gun comments spark debate in Sask.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's comments about guns and rural people struck a nerve in Saskatchewan.

Firerarms enthusiast and criminal lawyer discuss self-defence on CBC Radio's The Morning Edition

A Saskatchewan gun owner shows one of his firearms. (CBC)

Do people in rural areas need guns for safety?

Prime Minister Stephen Harper appears to think so.

He said as much to the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities during his visit to the province last week and the statement has struck a nerve.

"My wife's from a rural area. Gun ownership wasn't just for the farm. It was also for a certain level of security when you're a ways from immediate police assistance," Harper said.

CBC Radio's The Morning Edition hosted a firearms enthusiast and a criminal lawyer on Wednesday to debate the line between self-defence and gun control.

Greg Illerbrun, the firearms chairman of the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation, said he doesn't think the Prime Minister's comments went far enough.

"I think urban folks should have the same right," Illerbrun said. "Every Canadian should have the right to life."

But Bob Hrycan, a Regina-based criminal lawyer, said Harper's comments are easily misconstrued and could be dangerous.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper during his visit to Saskatchewan last week. (Madeline Kotzer/CBC)

"It's the mandate of the government to protect its citizens," said Hrycan.

"So if the Prime Minister is encouraging citizens to use their own guns, it would seem the government's policies are ineffective. It's to some extent an admission of defeat by the government that we can't protect our own citizens."

The Prime Minister later clarified his position when he said he did not intend to permit Canadian gun owners to "to take the law into their own hands."

He said responsible gun ownership can still exist for safety purposes.

Prosecutorial Discretion

Illerbrun said he feels the law needs changing because there are instances where people who use guns for protection end up facing charges.

"I should be able to defend myself, up to and including deadly force if that's necessary," said Illerbrun.

Hrycan said the law already allows for self-defence. Rather, he said the issue is more about using good judgment.

"The matter should be reviewed more thoroughly by the prosecuting authorities to determine whether or not a charge should be proceeded with," Hrycan said.

Illerbrun agreed.

Social media reaction

CBC Radio listeners chimed in on Facebook and Twitter with their own opinions. Take a look at what some people were saying below.

Click here to see the social media reaction.

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