The Globe and Mail, in an editorial, datelined 2 Apr 19, almost a month ago, said “Handguns are designed to be concealable and deadly. They are semi-automatics; shooters can fire a round with each pull of the trigger without having to manually recock their weapon. They can be legally purchased in Canada with a nine-round magazine, which means they can do a lot of damage quickly, just like a semi-automatic rifle, although without the same accuracy and firepower … [and] … In Canada, handguns have a very limited legal purpose. Canadians are not allowed to buy them for self-defence, and they can’t hunt with them. Handguns are restricted firearms, which means they can only be part of a collection or used for target-shooting … [but] … Despite these restrictions, Canadians own more than 900,000 registered handguns – twice as many as a decade ago. During this period of rapid ownership growth, homicides involving handguns in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal have also increased. Much of the rise is related to an increase in urban gang violence.” It is worthwhile noting that a number of handguns are licensed for protection, including by some judges and prosecutors who have been threatened by violent criminals.
“What is undeniable … [the Globe’s editorial board says] … is that urban Canadians, particularly those in poorer neighbourhoods, are suffering because illegal handguns have become pervasive in their communities … [but, they admit] … Guns don’t cause crime, nor do they lead to gang affiliation. But the presence of handguns makes each criminal act – from random robberies to gangs settling scores – more dangerous and deadly.” That last bit is very, very true, but even the Globe editorial which is headlined “It’s time for Canada to ban handguns,” admits that “Banning handguns would not mean the end of murder in Canada’s cities. But there is reason to believe that ending legal access to handguns would reduce the murder rate,” but they offer no reasons at all, what they should have said is that ‘there might be a reason to hope that banning handguns might reduce the murder rate.’ There might also be a reason to hope that I will win the lottery. The Globe and Mail says that ending legal access to handguns “would leave long-gun owners and those who want to use other firearms for traditional purposes free to do so. Gun control shouldn’t be an either/or proposition, not when there are people living in fear in their communities.“
Let’s go back to the real problem. The Globe gets that right: “in Toronto in 2018 … [there were] … 424 shootings, at least 50 of which resulted in deaths. In most cases, handguns were involved … [and] … The majority of the victims in Toronto were young men of colour living in community housing.” There we have the problem; in some neighbourhoods “young men of colour” are killing one another and innocent people are being killed as collateral damage. The guns being used are almost always illegally obtained … some, a few, were, to be sure, stolen from legal owners, a few were, again almost certainly sold by a legal owner to a criminal and some (many, even most, possibly almost all, according to everything I have read) were smuggled into Canada from the USA where gun ownership is a constitutionally protected right.
How to solve the underlying social problems that infest our large public housing ghettos? I wish I knew …
How to provide a future for so many “young men of colour” that doesn’t entice them into gangs and drug dealing and shoot-outs with handguns? I wish I knew the answer to that, too …
How to deal with “young men of colour” when, all too often, they are in court charged with a gun-related crime? Judges don’t like mandatory minimum sentences, but the gun-related violent crime rate in some communities is nearly out of control …
How to prevent or, at least, constrain the flow of handguns across our border? I think some people may have answers to that but the answers would inconvenience and annoy millions of people who would find their legitimate family trips to and from the USA slowed at the border when they reenter Canada.
There are a whole host of problems and only one unassailable fact: criminals, by definition, do not obey laws. “Ending legal access to handguns” (confiscating them, in other words) will, certainly, prevent a few handguns from being stolen each year from a collector or a target shooter who has been careless, perhaps, with security, but it will do nothing at all to slow the flow of illegal guns being smuggled in from the USA, and it will do nothing at all to slow the ongoing traffic in the thousands, likely hundreds of thousands of illegal handguns that are already here in Canada, in the hands of criminals, many of them being “young men of colour” who sell them back and forth in those “poorer neighbourhoods.”
There are three real problems:
- “Young men of colour” who cannot see a bright future that doesn’t involve gangs, guns and crimes like drug-trafficking. The social systems, including the public education system, is failing them;
- All those “poorer neighbourhoods,” into which too many “young men of colour” are packed, making them ‘hot-spots’ for all kinds of crime; and
- Criminals who will ignore any sort of gun ban, and some of whom will welcome it because it will make them richer by increasing the value of their illegal guns.
Banning handguns will do nothing at all about any of those problems. I know it, banning firearms ~ handguns, semi-automatic weapons and, for some, all guns ~ is a progressive cause célèbre because it is a simple ‘fix’ to a pressing problem, but it is, simply, arrant nonsense which will do nothing about the increasing rate of murder in our inner cities.