Gun con­trols don’t stop crim­i­nals

Men­tal health and crim­i­nal­ity are the is­sues, not pri­vate firearms own­er­ship

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - OPINION - BY CHRIS MCGARRY GUEST OPIN­ION Chris McGarry of Belfast RR#3 is a mem­ber of Canada’s Na­tional Firearms As­so­ci­a­tion.

Al­bert Ein­stein is fa­mously quoted as say­ing; ‘the def­i­ni­tion of in­san­ity is do­ing the same thing over and over ex­pect­ing a dif­fer­ent re­sult each time.’ A guest col­umn writ­ten by Des­mond Colo­han in the Thurs­day, Nov. 9 edi­tion of The Guardian speaks in favour of the U.S. gov­ern­ment tak­ing leg­isla­tive ac­tion against ‘semi-au­to­matic high-ca­pac­ity as­sault ri­fles’ as the rem­edy to end­ing mass shoot­ings in our neigh­bour­ing coun­try to the south.

Mr. Colo­han be­lieves the Cana­dian public should not ac­cept the good work the Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion is do­ing to pro­tect the gun rights of Amer­i­cans. Back in the mid1990s, Canada en­acted some of the most strin­gent gun laws in North Amer­ica with the pas­sage of C-68. To this day, ‘high­ca­pac­ity’ mag­a­zines are banned and most ri­fle mag­a­zines have to be pinned at five rounds. Has this pre­vented crim­i­nals from do­ing that they do best? It hasn’t, be­cause no amount of re­stric­tions on law-abid­ing firearms own­er­ship has ever de­terred the crim­i­nal el­e­ment.

Mr. Colo­han states that gun vi­o­lence in the U.S. is ‘an aber­ra­tion in an oth­er­wise sane world.’ Sorry, but that is not the truth. While the U.S. cer­tainly has a higher rate of gun vi­o­lence than Canada, Aus­tralia and most Euro­pean Union na­tions, that rate is much lower when com­pared to coun­tries with stricter gun laws. Ac­cord­ing to 2014 statis­tics, firearm-re­lated deaths in the U.S. were 10.4 for a to­tal num­ber of 0.00009361 for that year. Mean­while, the rates of vi­o­lent gun crime were higher in Brazil (0.00265000), Hon­duras (0.01083548) and Colom­bia (0.00439661). In the U.S., there are 112.6 firearms per ev­ery 100 per­sons while in Brazil the num­ber is a mere eight per ev­ery 100 per­sons.

Dr. John Lott, in his best­seller ‘More Guns, Less Crime,’ speaks about the im­por­tance of pri­vate firearms own­er­ship in a free, demo­cratic so­ci­ety. Guns may take lives. But they also save lives, as ev­i­denced in the re­cent Texas church shoot­ing, when a lo­cal man armed with a ‘semi­au­to­matic as­sault ri­fle’ (there is no such thing, by the way) shot the gun­man, thus pre­vent­ing any fur­ther ca­su­al­ties.

Most of the mass shoot­ings that have taken place in North Amer­ica over the past five decades have been the re­sult of men­tal health, not easy ac­cess to firearms. The Texas shooter was dis­hon­ourably dis­charged from the mil­i­tary, had stayed in a men­tal in­sti­tu­tion for a pe­riod, and was there­fore pro­hib­ited from own­ing firearms.

The re­cent shoot­ing in Ab­bots­ford, B.C., was com­mit­ted by a man who didn’t have a firearms li­cence, a le­gal re­quire­ment in Canada. Ad­di­tional re­stric­tions on lawabid­ing hunters, farm­ers and sport shoot­ers would not have pre­vented these two tragedies as those in­tent on com­mit­ting harm buy firearms from the black mar­ket.

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