Emo­tional ar­gu­ments don’t help gun de­bate

St. Thomas Times-Journal - - COMMENT - JIM MER­RIAM jim­mer­riam@hot­mail.com

Gun con­trol de­bates in Canada and the U.S. are as dif­fer­ent as a Yan­kee Doo­dle Dandy and a north­ern On­tario log­ger.

But there is a com­mon pro-gun thread that seems to be ig­nored by con­trol ad­vo­cates on both sides of the bor­der.

And that is the fear among some firearms own­ers that all gun con­trol mea­sures are steps to­ward re­moval of weapons from ci­ti­zens, so the state can run ram­pant.

This is largely an emo­tional ar­gu­ment, but it does have some ba­sis in fact. Re­mem­ber in Canada when the High River floods gave po­lice an ex­cuse to seize guns from homes.

Also many gun own­ers saw the ill-ad­vised and scarcely mourned gun reg­istry in Canada in the 1990s, as one short step away from such a seizure.

On the sub­ject of emo­tional ar­gu­ments, how­ever, gun con­trol ad­vo­cates take a back seat to no one. The ba­sic “ban­ning guns will re­duce crime” ar­gu­ment is as non­sen­si­cal a po­si­tion as that ad­vanced by any gun ad­vo­cate.

The re­cent tragedy in Las Ve­gas, where a mad­man used bump stocks to al­ter long guns into ma­chine guns for the sole pur­pose of mow­ing down vast num­bers of in­no­cents, is a one-of-a-kind dis­as­ter.

Even the Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion, the group that de­fends open carry laws and other broad gun free­doms unique to the U.S., has ques­tioned the need for bump stocks.

Plainly put, ma­chine guns are of no use to hunters and lit­tle use for tar­get shoot­ing.

They are at their best de­liv­er­ing the worst pos­si­ble dev­as­ta­tion to the largest num­ber of tar­gets in the short­est pe­riod of time.

It’s dif­fi­cult to imag­ine any tar­gets, other than hu­mans, where a ma­chine gun would be use­ful.

An­other is­sue that al­ways arises in Canada dur­ing gun con­trol de­bates is the num­ber of hand­guns used in crim­i­nal of­fences.

Th­ese guns are par­tic­u­larly com­mon among gang mem­bers and other as­sorted no-ac­counts in the big cities.

Thing is, hand­guns have been strictly con­trolled in Canada since the 1930s. You have to take a course, pass a test and pro­vide char­ac­ter ref­er­ences and other de­tails be­fore you are al­lowed to own a hand­gun in Canada un­der strict con­di­tions. Sim­i­lar, although some­what less strin­gent pro­cesses, are in place for long guns.

Crim­i­nals don’t get their guns this way but turn to the black mar­ket for mer­chan­dise that has been smug­gled across the bor­der. That fact alone should il­lus­trate the use­less­ness of gun reg­istries.

Canada’s gun con­trol laws aren’t nearly as un­rea­son­able as they used to be. Hav­ing said that, it’s clear there are still more con­trols and reg­u­la­tions than most re­spon­si­ble gun own­ers be­lieve are use­ful or even nec­es­sary.

How­ever, in the U.S. it’s still the wild west. Be­yond all the gun lib­er­ties, a pro­posal has been tossed around to make the use of si­lencers le­gal.

Just imag­ine the Las Ve­gas car­nage if had si­lencers been used by the shooter. Peo­ple there had trou­ble fig­ur­ing out that gun­shots were the prob­lem, even with the noise from the mod­i­fied ma­chine guns. It’s any­body’s guess how much longer it would have taken to iden­tify the shoot­ing and bring it un­der con­trol with­out the noise.

Gun crit­ics north of the bor­der tend to dis­miss Amer­i­cans as just a bunch of empty-headed gun lovers.

Over­sim­pli­fi­ca­tions such as that are not help­ful in light of the stag­ger­ing sta­tis­tics.

Since 1968 more Amer­i­cans have died from gun­fire than died in all the wars in the coun­try’s his­tory.

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