Category Archives: Gun Control

It’s Not Mental Illness Stupid. It’s Guns!

By Dr David Laing Dawson

Each day the newspapers, CNN, Google, these last few days, headline the question of motive for the most recent mass shooting in Texas. Little has been released save the man’s name and a bit of background, presumably because there are multiple “crime scenes” to be investigated first.

But what struck me was this hunger for motive, for reasons and explanations. We need the reassurance of specificity, of explanation, of cause and effect. We need to understand. And we want to understand in a manner that will reassure us that we are not vulnerable; that we will not find ourselves at either end of that rifle.

But it is also a way of deflecting from some uncomfortable answers, some simpler explanations. So I thought I would take it upon myself to spell those out once again.

This man was angry and depressed and he had a loaded gun in his car. Obviously he was angry, and depressed because he would know as we do that taking that action is suicidal.

Why angry and depressed?

Does it matter? Lost a job? Lost a partner? Developing mental illness? Years of grievances? Broke? Friendless? Paranoid?

There are many people driving around or sitting in chairs angry and depressed.

It’s the loaded gun that makes the difference between getting a ticket, having your car impounded and taking a taxi, breaking down and crying at the side of the road, railing at the cops, being reminded of the unfairness of life, and what actually transpired that morning in Texas.

An Appeal for a Handgun Ban in Canada.

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.

Guns, Guns, Guns

By Dr David Laing Dawson

Some years ago I was awakened after midnight by the screech of tires and the unmistakable sound of a car smashing into a lamppost two stories beneath our bedroom window. I crawled out of bed and looked out the window down to the sidewalk. A car was curled against a lamppost, its doors open, steam rising from its hood, and two men were fighting on the sidewalk.

My first thought was that they probably deserve one another, whatever the story behind this event, and that I should go back to bed. But then it was clear that one man was down and the other was kicking him mercilessly.

I asked my wife to call 911, pulled on a pair of pants, grabbed the only weapon in the apartment and headed for the front door. That weapon was a hockey stick.

The building is on a hill with the front door opening on ground level one story above and around the corner from the men.

I rounded the corner and approached the men who were downhill and fifty feet away. They saw me coming, stopped fighting, and got to their feet.

(This allowed me to tell the story later as one of the thugs saying to the other, “Good God, it’s an old Canadian Geezer with a hockey stick. Run for it.”)

But their easy surrender may have been induced by the Police car they could see coming over the hill behind me.

I’m sure when I grabbed the hockey stick I thought of it as a symbol of authority and not a weapon I would actually use. Something to hold in my hands. There was no gun in our house and there never will be.

But I am writing this because the presence of a gun might have turned this farce into a tragedy.

And the absence of guns might have turned two local tragedies into farces, into stories of human folly and stupidity rather than tragedy. One event occurred recently with a boy from the Six Nations Reserve being killed by a shotgun blast while he attempted to steal an old truck. The other was a few years back and involved another boy from the same reserve being killed by a bullet from a handgun. In that story the boy (probably a little inebriated) was banging on the door of an isolated farm house seeking help for his car that wouldn’t start after he and his companion had pulled into the driveway to urinate in the bushes.

Much has been written about these events, the court cases that ensued, the verdict of innocence in the latest, the verdict of guilty in the earlier case, but later overturned. And of course much has been written about the possible racism that played a part in the tragic events in the first place, and then in the court cases that followed.

Perhaps racism played a role in these tragedies. But perhaps not. In both cases it is dark; the owners of the houses are awakened in the middle of the night. They find themselves confronting, in the recent case, a shadowy figure trying to steal his truck, in the older case, a (possibly inebriated) young man pounding on his door after midnight.

Had these home owners been armed with nothing but a hockey stick the story would have been a farce, worth telling to grandchildren around the fire pit; and perhaps the boy killed more recently would have decided there are better careers than grand theft auto, and the boy in the older case was already attending college, but, as young men are apt to do, had consumed some alcohol while parked with a friend at the Starlight Theater in an unreliable automobile.

The difference here, between farce and tragedy, was, as is so often the case, gun ownership.

All other factors, as usual, are questionable, of some interest, consuming of legal time, journalism. But without the presence of guns these two incidents could have ended as my story did.

It is the gun that turns folly and farce into tragedy.

Arming Teachers

By Dr David Laing Dawson

Samuel L Jackson put the issue quite succinctly:

“Can someone that’s been in a Gunfight tell that Muthafukka that’s Never been in a Gunfight, the flaws of his Arm The Teachers plan??!!”

Reading the comment section on any news item is usually not conducive to mental health or stress reduction. But, sometimes I read a few.

This one caught my eye in the middle of a discussion about the hapless deputy who “Waited behind a pillar for four minutes while the sound of semiautomatic gun fire rang through the school.”

Somebody pointed out the deputy was armed with a handgun and going up against a killer with an AR 15 would be foolish. Then somebody else responded that:

“You’d be surprised how often a single handgun has taken out a nest of machine gunners.”

And that was the comment that intrigued me. For there is only one place anyone could possibly see a man armed with a pistol “take out a nest of machine gunners” even once, let alone often, and that would be in fiction as portrayed on TV, Film and video.

We are watching slippage in those boundaries (reality, reality TV, Fiction) within the citizens, the politicians, and the President of the USA as they promote arming teachers.

They must be envisaging the kinds of shootouts that occur in NCIS LA and other shows every week: The heroes are fearless, often quipping when entering the battle. They are invisible to the bad guys. They shoot with pin point accuracy, from any position and distance. Their bullets never stray. They have invisible Kevlar vests. The bad guys are always easily identified. The bad guys are always terrible shots, even with automatic weapons. Their bullets somehow move slowly enough for the good guys to duck. The bad guys conveniently step away from their cover to be shot. In the end the heroes walk away unscathed, not even emotionally distressed.

Mr. Trump. That is fiction. You are imagining Gary Cooper at High Noon, John Wayne, Stallone, your own adolescent fantasies.

The more guns firing, the more people get killed. The more guns carried the more likely an accidental shooting will occur. Or an unrelated homicide or suicide.