The Globe and Mail says, yet again, in an editorial, that “it’s time to look at banning these sorts of guns, which are increasingly employed in violent crime in Canada’s cities, and increasingly involved in homicides … [and] … These firearms are small, portable and easily concealed. They’re also relatively inaccurate, and have few legal uses. They’re unsuited for, and forbidden to use in, this country’s main legal firearms activity, which is hunting … [further] … They’re good for shooting targets at close range. That, and not much else … [and] … They are handguns, and it’s hard to find a reason why anyone other than a police officer would need one.” The Good Grey Globe is, of course, quite right about the characteristics and limitations of handguns: they are not of much use for hunting anything other than a slow-moving target at quite close range, like a person at say, 10 metres … but that is not a cogent argument for banning them.
I do not belong to the “it’s the shooter, not the gun, the gun is only a tool” camp. Of course, it’s the person and of course, a gun is an inanimate object with no free will of its own, but easy access to handguns means that they become the tool of choice for (mostly) young men from (mostly) a few urban communities who are actually using the guns as business tools … because a few men (and women), often not so young, are in the drug business and they use street gangs (mostly young men, often “young men of colour“) as a framework for conducting their business. (The young men pictured, left, are said to be members of “The Stovetop Rexdale Crips [Rexdale is Toronto neighbourhood … who] are a mid-size African-Canadian street gang.”) Street gangs do direct marketing of drugs, they are rather like “franchise” owner-operators. The handgun and sneers are as much as part of the modern, urban gangsters’ ‘uniform’ as are the monogrammed T-shirts and cheery smiles of the McDonald’s front line workers. They aim to entice customers to buy their product from them.
The last time the Globe and Mail proposed a handgun ban I decried it as Nonsense. Nothing has changed except that now even the Globe admits that “it’s not clear how much of an impact this would have on crime in Canada – and the reason is the border. Unlike Britain, we sit next to a country awash in guns. Handguns can be smuggled into Canada, and they are. And evidence suggests that there may already be a lot of illegal handguns in this country, some secreted in from overseas and some diverted out of legal stocks … [thus] … making handguns legally unavailable will not cause the crime rate to plummet overnight, nor will it lead to an abrupt collapse in the murder rate.“
But the editorial writers ask: “could it help? And could it do so without inconveniencing any of Canada’s millions of hunters, who use long guns, not handguns?” Their answer is: “No one knows” and “Yes.” But their questions, there are two of them, are flawed. First, why does it matter if hunters and farmers are inconvenienced? If a handgun ban is really a good idea then I’m going to assert that the overwhelming majority of hunters and farmers and so on will support it. The reason they do not is that they see the Globe and Toronto Mayor John Tory as doctrinaire opponents of all firearms, whatever the purpose. Many hunters and most farmers and trappers know that neither John Tory nor the Good Grey Globe‘s editorial writers care a damn about hunting to put meat on the table or killing varmints that east feed-grains and kill small domestic animals and so on. I am 100% certain that Mayor Tory is shocked and appaled at what is happening in Toronto and I’m equally certain that he and the Globe and Mail‘s editorial writers want to do something to ameliorate the situation. But, second, a gun ban will not help. It’s still nonsense.
The problem that needs addressing is in the urban ‘ghettos’ where too many “young men of colour” receive sub-standard educations that they, and their teachers and prospective employers all know do not equip them to earn a decent living ~ but educations that are mandated to give them a diploma just because they are “young men of colour,” and it would be ‘racist’ to insist that they achieve the same standards as everyone else. That’s also nonsense, of course, because we know that year-after-year, top scholars come from every race and creed …
… but they most often come from stable homes and from communities that are not infested with a gang-drug-gun culture. The problem is in some communities, it is a problem about how we, society at large, prepare some young people for the world. It has nothing to do with race or creed. There is a small world, a sub-culture, in which gangs and drugs and the guns that go with both are ‘normal.’ We should want to change that. Doug Ford and John Tory, in Toronto, François Legault and Valérie Plante in Montreal, and John Horgan and Kennedy Stewart in Vancouver, and police chiefs, mayors and premiers everywhere, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, too, should all want to change that. Instead too many are wringing their hands and looking for easy fixes to large and complex societal problems.
There’s nothing wrong with our children. There’s nothing wrong with “young men of colour” in our cities. What’s wrong is how we prepare them for our world.
Banning handguns will do nothing except to make home invasions in Canada (where some handguns are found) and gun smuggling from the USA (the source of most (80+%?) of illegal handguns) more profitable.
The problem is there … Mayor John Tory and the Globe‘s editorial writers are right about that. It’s large and complex and difficult. But, the solution is less evident that they would have us think … and I don’t have any really good ideas, either. I just know that advocating handgun bans is just about as effective as putting screen doors on submarines.