OPINION: By Matt McEachran
Since you were a kid, would you say gun crime has gone up or down in Canada?
The recent shooting at the PQ victory party in Quebec was a shocking reminder that gun crime seems to be everywhere. How is this even possible many wondered, Quebec still has a gun registry!
Parties, movie theatres, children’s camps, schools, downtown streets; it seems like at any moment we may suddenly be attacked.
How did we get to this point?
We’ve been betting on the wrong horse.
In fact, we’ve been betting on it more and more despite the glaring evidence around us that it’s not working. The “horse” of course, is stricter gun laws.
Sold to Canadians as the cure for everything, there are three very dangerous myths in the gun control argument that even a cursory glance at history will show contribute to more Canadian deaths from firearms, not less.
Gun control has developed some sort of “sacred cow” status and the mere idea of not introducing more of it every five or ten years, is simply flabbergasting to so many politicians and members of society. But it’s time to stop flogging this dead horse and take a straight look at the results it’s had, no matter how un-politically correct it is. “If it even saves one life” is it not worth having an adult discussion about it? (zing! Yes, I just used gun-enemy Alan Rock’s own argument against him)
Myth #1: Gun crimes are an “American” problem
People who buy into this myth use phrases like the “gun culture” of the US, or their evil “second amendment.” It all sounds good, until you hear about yet another Toronto downtown shooting. Or the shooting previously mentioned in Quebec. And there was that one that just happened in the French Alps. Oh and who can forget about Norway where 77 children and adults were slaughtered on an island last summer. That shooter received a whopping 21years in jail before being eligible for parol, by the way. (but that’s a column for another day)
Gun violence isn’t just an American problem. It’s a world problem, and guess what? Canada doesn’t have a second amendment right to bare arms, so would somebody who keeps spouting this nonsense please explain how it keeps happening here? (and everywhere else in the world)
Myth #2: Stricter laws stop gun crimes
This type of thinking seems to make sense, I agree. But history has proven otherwise. Take a quick visit to the RCMP’s website and look at firearm history. You will see very quickly that there is an inverse relationship between firearm laws and firearm tragedies.
That is to say, over the last 100 years as gun laws get stricter, we actually see more and more gun crimes happening.
Canadians who think gun laws keep us safe will be shocked to know how wrong they are. For example, in the 1930’s did you know 12 year olds could buy firearms? How many teenage shooters took to their schools in the 30’s? The streets must have been rampant with them, right? Wrong.
How about automatic weapons? Did you know they weren’t even prohibited in Canada until 1977? There must have been dozens or even hundreds of deaths by automatic weapons in the 1970’s, wasn’t there? I mean these are weapons much too dangerous to trust to the average Canadian.
You’d think that, but you’d be wrong.
I don’t know of any stories about people in the 1970’s spraying the Eaton’s Mall in Toronto with machine gun fire, or birthday parties or school shootings. Shocking isn’t it?
If it wasn’t the laws that stopped people from committing crimes back then, what was it?
Myth #3: Easier access to guns is the problem
This is the evil twin sister to myth number 2 because they go hand in hand. Governments love to pass all kinds of laws aimed at restricting access to firearms, theorizing (falsely as it turns out) that many gun crimes must be committed in the heat of the moment.
But the question of access fails the most basic test; are we safer now than before we started making everyone lock up and hide their guns?
Again, clearly the answer is no.
Going back to my youth in the heady days of the 1980’s in rural Sarnia, my brothers and I had shotguns and rifles on a gun rack hanging on our bedroom wall. Pretty much every neighbour we knew owned a gun, and no one thought anything about shooting in the backyard on a Saturday afternoon. (Ironically enough, no shooting in my old backyard is permitted under Sarnia’s newest gun by-laws).
Since the 1990’s, we’ve been brainwashed into believing the “crazy” things like backyard shooting and guns ready to stop burglars have caused all this gun crime. Gun owners now have to lock up each gun, store their ammunition in a separate room, and more or less leave themselves vulnerable to any thief or would-be rapist who follows you home and waits until you fall asleep to break in.
Again I ask, if making guns less accessible has worked so well, why are Canadians reading about another Toronto shooting nearly every time they open up the newspaper?
The problem is crystal clear. We’ve tried these “sacred cow” gun laws long enough, but the evidence clearly shows we were all a lot safer before all these new laws came into be. All these laws have done is breed paranoia and fear about guns to the average Canadian.
Don’t believe me? Here’s on easy example. Canadian society is so afraid of guns we don’t even allow police to carry them when they are off duty. Think about that. Its mind boggling that we trust a particular man or woman, OPP officer or Sarnia police officer, at 4:55pm to carry a gun. But at 5:01pm when their shift is over, suddenly we don’t trust them anymore? This is insanity at its best.
Please, someone in favour of police not carrying guns off-duty, explain to me how we are safer because of it.
That is exactly the type of closed-box, “sacred cow” thinking that is causing more deaths in Canada. The money we spend enforcing bad laws, the police time and energy that is spent, is wasted in the wrong direction. We should be searching for better answers that will actually reduce gun crime and save people’s lives instead of the politically-popular gun laws we have now.
So what’s the answer? Why didn’t the Quebec gun registry save that poor man last week? Why didn’t we have these same problems back when 12 year olds could buy guns and anyone could walk in and buy a machine gun? What did they have back then that we don’t today?
I don’t have all the answers, but a good place to start would be the home. Back then, teachers could actually discipline children at school. And if you got in trouble at school, you got it worse at home. In other words parents cared. Children were taught right from wrong, they weren’t told to believe that everything they did/felt/said was right. Canadians grew up with morals and values; crazy ideas like “love thy neighbour” and they believed in a God, an afterlife and a judgment day. Funny how those last three things alone might make you reconsider a killing spree.
How much time have you spent teaching your kids about the morals and values you believe in? Compare that to the time they spent watching TV or playing video games this week. Are you as a parent or grandparent even on the radar?
We’ve tried government regulations. It was a nice try but it didn’t work. Now let’s try morals and values and strong families. Crazy, I know, but I’m willing to bet it will actually save lives.