By Dr David Laing Dawson
Surprisingly it might be possible for Canada to outlaw handguns. Not restrict them but outlaw them totally. Apparently one poll suggests 67 percent of Canadians would be in favour of this. So if this is now politically possible, let’s do it. Let’s do it before the gun manufacturers catch on and send in trolls and talking heads spouting the kind of nonsense I hear on American television.
I understand that many of the guns used in crime, and in the current spate of homicides in Toronto, are illegal, stolen, and/or smuggled in from the United States. And so I understand that a total ban on handguns will not eliminate the problem overnight. We will still have some gang and drug related firearm deaths.
But there are two pieces of evidence that underscore the rationale for banning handguns. The first is simply factual reality, statistics and science. The more guns there are the more shooting deaths there will be. As a means of suicide a gun allows no second thoughts, whereas all other means of suicide require some activity and time beyond pulling a trigger. Guns bought for personal protection are used, if actually used, ninety-six percent of the time, for purposes other than self protection. This includes suicides, homicides, and accidental shootings. Ninety-six percent of the time. 96 out of 100 times such a gun is used it will be used for suicide, homicide, and accidental shootings.
And, from the perspective of individual behaviour in a group or community, we know that social sanctions, disapproval, and actual laws do effect the ways we all “act out”. This means that if we ban handguns, if we develop a community disapproval of having handguns, if having a handgun becomes socially unacceptable as well as legally unacceptable, fewer young men will feel comfortable carrying a handgun around. That means that even if most guns used in crime have been illegal in the first place, the comfort level of carrying one of these around will diminish. There will then be no legal guns on the street and fewer illegal ones.
Opportunity appears to have opened a door. If we keep this issue alive we just might be able to ban handguns entirely and greatly reduce gun crime in Canada.
That 67% approval rating might be a reaction to the gun crazy attitudes south of our border. So be it. At least one thing good (in Canada) may come out of the Trump presidency.