As Robyn Urback points out, in an opinion piece in the Globe and Mail, the Trudeau-Freeland Liberals are engaged in an act of worthless ~ and basically anti-American ~ political posturing as they move forward with a ban on “military-style” assault rifles, with special emphasis on the AR-15 which, Ms Urback says, while known as “America’s Rifle,” rarely features in Canadian violent crimes.
I have explained before that the “military-style” designation is just another example of willfully ignorant Liberal fear-mongering. Even a Liberal like Bill Blair, a veteran police officer who certainly knows better, goes along with the lie that legally owned Canadian long-guns, including semi-automatic rifles, are a serious problem. They’re not. As Ms Urback says, Toronto’s “Police Chief Mark Saunders recently pegged the proportion … [of illegal guns used in crimes but smuggled into Canada from the USA] … at 82 per cent.” Canada has a border problem, not a legal “military-style” long-gun problem. But it will not do to stop and search every car driven by young men of colour that comes into Canada, will it? Stopping gun smuggling might be racist, and we can’t have that … clearly not being racist is far more important than saving lives.
But, the real problem, only alluded to by police chiefs, is that Canada has a gang issue … and it is, mainly, confined to a (too large) handful of (mainly) urban neighbourhoods. And, once again, as with smuggling, it is a problem that very often involves young men from identifiable communities: First Nations, People of Colour and so on. The real problem, therefore, may not be discussed, the Laurentian Elites forbid it.
Why do we have gang problems?
My guess (ill-informed though it may be) is inequality. Since the 1950s we have, mistakenly, thought that we can, somehow ~ magically? ~ provide equality of outcomes. After all, all people are equal, aren’t they? Despite some troublesome data about IQ and the Ashkenazi Jews, we know ~ at least, I do, and I am a septuagenarian who has lived and worked in North America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and assorted islands in between ~ that people are all alike: despite race, creed or sex they are, very broadly and very generally, all equal in almost every important attribute, including intelligence … and don’t ever make the mistake of suggesting that a 7 foot tall black American basketball player is, in any way, stronger or more fit than a small, lean white male ballet dancer. Because we know that we are all equal in innate ability, it makes sense that we should all be able to be expert plumbers or nuclear physicists or poets or neurosurgeons, doesn’t it? Well, yes, it does … but with qualifications: education and training. One does not become a plumber or a brain surgeon without a lot of both. Outcomes cannot be decreed by either social pressure or laws.
Opportunity, on the other hand, can be made fairly equal … but too often it is not. There is a very real perception, in America, Britain and Canada, that public education is failing the children who live in inner-city neighbourhoods where many of the children are, as they are in my own neighbourhood in downtown Ottawa, from visible minority families who are, often recent immigrants. But education is THE key to equality of opportunity … which is the only equality that really matters. There are a whole host of factors that explain why the “outcomes” for, say, new Canadian ethnically Chinese and Indian students ~ often children of educated professionals ~ in suburban high schools are “better” than those for, say, the children Somali refugees in inner-city schools. But, to be sure, genes don’t matter … but many cultural factors, including the parents’ views on education, do matter, a lot. Teachers have told me that the quality of home life matters more than what happens in their classrooms. One teacher told me, pointedly, about the “unfair” advantage that one family had over another ~ because of how the parents viewed education and learning. She said that nothing she could do in her classroom could overcome the advantage that one family gave to their children while the other family seemed, to her, unable to do the same. Put fairly dimply: if you had a good edi]ucation and a good, productive life then you are likely to want your children to work hard and get the same. If, on the other hand, chance rather than education has played a major role in your life, if you rely upon social assistance, then you may not see why working hard in school matters ~ obviously, that’s a broad generalization to which there are millions and millions of exceptions.
I think that we know that too many First Nations and inner-city schools do not produce educational outcomes that are equal to those from, say, suburban schools. I also think that we know that money ~ facilities, class sizes, teachers’ salaries and so on ~ does not explain most of the difference. I suspect that society is also to blame … but there’s nothing new in that. Back in 1935, the great American lyricist-poet Ira Gershwin explained it all in “There’s a boat dat’s leaving soon for New York.” in the Gershwin’s great American folk-opera ‘Porgy and Bess,’ in which ‘Sportin’ Life‘ enticed ‘Bess‘ to run away from poverty by joining him in a life of crime: “You an’ me kin live dat high life in New York … An’ dere’ll be nuttin’ too good for you” he sang. Now the same message is all over TV and the internet: “You can have it all, you deserve to have it all … just peddle this “happy dust” to your neighbourhood school and you’ll have everything you want.” But there is fierce competition for the “happy dust” business and, most often, criminals don’t hire lawyers to mediate turf disputes, they buy illegal handguns and send unskilled teenagers out to scare off or kill the competition. That’s the main reason there were, as Robyn Urback says, “490 shootings … [in Toronto, and that’s why] … Regina police reported a 15-per-cent increase in violent incidents involving a gun between January and November compared to the same period the previous year … [and] … In Winnipeg, crimes involving firearms increased 66 per cent between 2014 and 2018 and rates of gun violence nationally have been trending upward since 2013.“
Banning legally owned long guns is not going to change that trend. The problem is not even the scary-looking “military-style” AR-15 …
… nor is it the equally lethal but less “military looking” Mini-14 that Marc Lépine used to kill 14 young women at the École Polytechnique in 1989 …
… the problem is already illegal, smuggled in from the USA handguns in the hands of poorly educated young men who live in crime-ridden urban neighbourhoods:
(I recognize that some will say that I am tarring an entire community with the sins of a few, but the victims of gun violence, who are, most often from the same communities, know who the real criminals are … and they are not farmers, hunters, sport shooters and biathletes.)
I would be more than happy to see increased penalties for the unregistered sale of legal firearms and for unsafe storage of legal firearms, too. I would not object to increased training requirements before a licensed person can buy a semi-automatic rifle in Canada. (Caveat lector: I do not own any firearms of any kind; I am not licensed to own firearms in Canada, but I am very familiar with and have (safely, on my part, and effectively) used many kinds of pistols, rifles and machine guns, too.) What I think is stupid is to try to ban “military-style” rifles just because the Liberals want to trade very real fear for a few votes.
But, you might ask: why does anyone want a “military-style” semi-automatic rifle? There is a good, logical answer. The design of the rifle, including the pistol grip and front grip, makes it easier to take and hold a good point of aim ~ one can shoot more accurately. The semi-automatic feature means that one can shoot two or three times without losing one’s point of aim: that can be very useful when one is close to a large, angry predator. But they take some skill to use properly and that’s why so many urban gangsters prefer small, illegal (in Canada), semi-automatic handguns and even fully automatic sub-machine guns like the famous Uzi or the popular Mac-10 which are also already illegal in Canada.
Canada has a gun violence problem. It is localized and, therefore, it ought to be fairly simple (which does not mean easy) to contain. It involves, manly, already illegal handguns and young men … further narrowing the scope of the real problem.
If the Liberals, like Bill Blair and Justin Trudeau, really want to protect Canadians and save lives they will address the real problem … but they don’t want to solve problems so they will try to ban legal rifles instead. I say “try” because I doubt that some “military-style” rifle owners will voluntarily acquiesce to either a “buy-back” or confiscation ~ thus the main effect will be to create a whole new class of criminal. The Trudeau-Blair “military-style” rifle ban is worthless political posturing that will do little except turn some decent, law-abiding Canadians into criminals.