There’s no doubt: A na­tional ban on hand­guns would save lives

The Standard (St. Catharines) - - Opinion - HEATHER MAL­LICK Heather Mal­lick is a colum­nist based in Toronto cov­er­ing cur­rent af­fairs. Fol­low her on Twit­ter: @HeatherMal­lick

There are many ex­pla­na­tions for a re­cent spike in gun vi­o­lence over a long hot week­end in Toronto, with 17 peo­ple in­jured in 14 sep­a­rate shoot­ings, and five more shoot­ings a week later.

Some of them are well-ar­gued, oth­ers are ar­guable and some of them go al­most un­men­tioned.

The causes of this par­tic­u­lar hu­man mis­ery in­clude poverty, gangs, le­gal guns be­ing eas­ily stolen, smug­gled guns, lack of ed­u­ca­tion, il­le­gal drug use, and empty spans of time com­bined with sum­mer heat, and, as al­ways, cru­elty. All of these can over­lap to do even more dam­age.

Although gun deaths up to July 29 are at a three-year low, it doesn’t feel that way.

The Toronto Star re­ports that 18 peo­ple had been shot to death, down from 30 by that time last year (in­clud­ing those shot by the Dan­forth gun­man) and 20 by that point in 2017. We don’t know what the rest of 2019 will bring.

But this isn’t a wave of “youth crime.” These are young men.

Po­lite head­lines re­fer­ring to “peo­ple” ob­scure this fact. When a young woman fires a gun, it’s an anom­aly, the ex­cep­tion that proves the rule.

Men shoot­ing into crowded night­clubs, driv­ing the streets aim­ing to ex­e­cute a ri­val, fir­ing into public parks where chil­dren play, that’s stan­dard now.

I have of­ten writ­ten about the need for gun con­trol in Canada, as a re­minder that men use guns to threaten, wound, stalk and kill women. Misog­yny is in­grained but guns make it eas­ier to act on it. A Canada-wide hand­gun ban would save many lives, as would a ban on as­sault weapons.

Many men agree, which helps be­cause fem­i­nism will only suc­ceed if men and women work to­gether for equal rights. It’s a be­trayal that the fed­eral gov­ern­ment has de­cided against this.

I heard from men, but no women, af­ter a re­cent col­umn favour­ing a na­tional hand­gun ban. These read­ers, some of them Amer­i­can, like hand­guns. They emailed to tell me this at great length.

I don’t un­der­stand why they think I should find this rel­e­vant. There are many things I would likely en­joy: Recre­ational mor­phine; shoot­ing coy­otes (with ar­rows, to make it more even); jet-ski­ing drunk; and I’m just get­ting started. But I don’t do them be­cause they’re bad for me per­son­ally and a threat to oth­ers.

Gun­nery is strange as well as su­per­flu­ous. I don’t op­pose hunt­ing for food, but imag­ine go­ing to a shoot­ing range for plea­sure. Sandy Hook killer Adam Lanza did that. With his mother.

Wouldn’t a game of darts sat­isfy the urge to aim at some­thing very care­fully and hit it dead-on? If it’s gunfire they like, per­haps say “Bang!” But sport shoot­ers wear pro­tec­tive ear­wear to block that very noise. I re­main mys­ti­fied.

Boys, ha­bit­u­ated to gam­ing and guns, are raised to think they’re en­ti­tled to what­ever they like, as girls em­phat­i­cally are not. These boys grow up less able to cope with adult­hood and its stric­tures. These men are in­cred­u­lous that I ob­ject to their guns and don’t see that women might have a par­tic­u­lar point to make.

I was in­formed that gun laws won’t work be­cause crim­i­nals would buy smug­gled U.S. guns. Again, I say men will break the law, which is no rea­son to aban­don laws. To those who say not all men, I agree. Any law against hand­guns would only af­fect men with hand­guns. Other men would spend their days as I do, happy to live in a slightly safer Toronto.

The gun de­bate fol­lows gun-own­ers’ talk­ing points, many of which are ab­surd.

First, I will re­peat that a hand­gun will be un­help­ful once the griz­zly is within range. Sec­ond, Amer­i­can laws are ir­rel­e­vant.

A gov­ern­ment’s first duty is to pro­tect ci­ti­zens from vi­o­lent death.

As the mayor and prime min­is­ter dis­cussed on Tues­day, one path is to give young men places to go and things to do in a world where guns make wealth look easy. An­other way is to ban guns, these small wretched male toys ra­di­at­ing death.

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