Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Guns Don't Kill, Canadians Do

I somewhat agree actually with John Thompson of the MacKenzie Institute (first clue that this story has to do with Canada is that the name “MacKenzie” is involved) in that illegal gun traffic from the U.S. into Canada is only one part of the problem (I would call that the “front end” and classify poverty and displaced immigrant populations that don’t have much to do as the “back end,” and as we know, it’s much easier for jingoistic politicians of either stripe to address the “front end”), but I think Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin pretty much acknowledges that. All he’s asking for is for this country to try and tighten up the flow of illegal guns a bit, and we know how far a request like that is going to get, especially with the Repug cabal we currently have that is bought and paid for lock, stock and barrel by the NRA calling the shots.

Actually, speaking of our buddy Charlton (“Try To Pry This Weapon Out Of My Cold, Dead Hands”) Heston and his bunch, I would ask that they read this information about the Canadian Firearms Act of 1995 and imagine how it would read (assuming it would even exist at all) had the NRA quashed it the way they do that with gun legislation in this country (I mean, the NRA is such an agreeable bunch, after all).

This paragraph caught my eye in particular.

A national survey commissioned by the Canadian Firearms Centre in 2000 found an estimated 2.3 million firearm owners.

More than 1,000 Canadians die every year from gunshot wounds, most of them by their own hand. In 1996 the total firearm deaths amounted to 1,131, of which 815 were suicides, 45 were accidents and 156 were homicides.

The violent crime rate has been steadily declining in Canada over the last two decades, and progressively fewer crimes are being committed with firearms. In 1978, Canada recorded 661 homicides, a rate of 2.76 per 100,000. Of these, 250, or 37.8%, were committed with guns. In 1998, Canada had 555 homicides, a rate of 1.83 per 100,000. Guns were involved in 151 of the homicides, 27% of the total, the lowest proportion since statistics were first collected in 1961. Robberies using firearms accounted for 18% of all such crimes in 1998, down from 25% in 1988 and 37% in 1978.
The story from the link also mentions that the law is being challenged by gun owners in the province of Alberta who raise cattle, as well as aboriginal tribes and other associations of gun owners. I respect the fact that they are completely within their rights to do that.

Also, let me be clear; if a law abiding citizen in this county owns a firearm and that person practices gun safety and learns how to use the weapon correctly, then as far as I’m concerned, it is that person’s property and no one has the right to confiscate it as long as no crime has been committed.

However, I think Canada is doing the right thing by trying to establish common sense guidelines that are subject to change as dictated by court rulings. I don’t read about any hand wringing in Canada when it comes to renewing a law to ban the sale and manufacture of assault rifles, and I’m quite sure that Canadian gun makers don’t have the same type of ridiculous blanket immunity from liability that U.S. gun makers have (not that that could have done any good for Richard Johnson of Philadelphia, who Tom Ferrick, Jr. of the Inquirer introduced us to earlier this year).

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