The Ottawa Citizen column: "Gun bans benefit the violent criminal"
COLUMN: John Robson
BYLINE: John Robson
SOURCE: The Ottawa Citizen
WORD COUNT: 851
Gun bans benefit the violent criminal
Last week I thought it too soon to draw lessons from the shootings at Dawson College, the shock and grief too fresh. Now I want to try to draw them using old-fashioned "if/then" reasoning. I feel lonely on both counts.
So sit down and listen to a story from the Sept. 25 Maclean's: "Deron Johnson is in hospital in New York City after allegedly trying to snatch a gold chain from a wheelchair-bound woman. Margaret Johnson, 56, was on her way to a shooting range at the time, and when her chain was removed, Margaret pulled out a .357 pistol. Deron is now being treated for a gunshot injury and faces a charge of robbery. 'There's not much to it,' Margaret says plainly, 'Somebody tried to mug me and I shot him.' " You go, girl.
If you successfully ban guns, then life gets a bit scarier for all those not well-placed to engage in fisticuffs with the young and the ruthless. It's not a conclusive argument for concealed-carry laws. But it will not do to claim that gun bans enhance public safety, then shudder at the vulgarity of counter-arguments that if every fourth biddy packed heat then muggers would be more cautious.
A gun ban may have beneficial effects that outweigh such drawbacks. But to discuss the subject rather than emoting or posturing about it, we must weigh them. Especially since Johnson versus Johnson is not an isolated case. In Britain the Blair government's near-total ban on guns was followed by a dramatic rise in crime, including gun crime. It may be possible to argue that the two were unrelated, or related by factors not present in Canada. But if you refuse to discuss awkward issues then you're not actually arguing.
Some believers in gun control do argue that if the Dawson shooter had three legally registered weapons, including a pistol, then we need a complete ban because registration isn't enough. They should have to address the historical point that when the long-gun registry was brought in we were promised that it was not a prelude to confiscation. Perhaps that assurance was ill-advised, as policy or public relations. But if "It hoodwinked the rubes" is thought advantageous in a policy, then the country will suffer.
An even bigger problem for gun-ban advocates is the gap between legislating a ban and enforcing it. And here we must grapple with the role of incentives. Strict controls make it harder for everyone to obtain guns. But they also increase the advantages to criminals and psychos of evading controls. It's not much fun trying to shoot up a restaurant full of armed diners (or a school with armed teachers, a point not lost on Israelis). But if you know they're helpless ... well, ask Britain's increasingly brazen burglars
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