Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Handgun Ban

To be clear, I am in favour of a handgun ban.

In the news media I have been hearing over and over for the last few days that a handgun ban will not reduce crime in this country.

What this tells me is that someone has just been shot (or at least, shot at) with a handgun. I may have actually missed the news article but there's no missing the wails of defense for handguns.

The logic coming from the handgun defenders runs along these lines: criminals will ignore a handgun ban, and thus, the handgun ban will be ineffective.

Let me first point out that this is a gloriously stupid line of reasoning. By definition, criminals ignore the law. That's what makes them criminals. But this is generally not a good argument for doing away with the law.

Take murder, for example. Every person who murders someone else has completely ignored the law against murders. But does this mean that we should repeal the laws against murder? No! Does this means the laws against murder do not work? Clearly not!

OK, having said that, let me add this to the mix: if handguns are banned, then only criminals will have handguns. Right? What this tells us then is that we have found a really good way to spot criminals. They're the ones carrying handguns.

Now, finally, let's look at this gun thing more rationally.

Again, we are told time and again that banning handguns won't reduce crime. But this misrepresents the reason we want handguns banned (and other firearms closely regulated).

People want to ban handguns because handguns are inherently dangerous. Banning dangerous things is just common sense.

We ban outright the ownership of things like rocket launchers, radioactive materials, lions and tigers. We regulate and license the use and ownership of some dangerous things, like cars and aircraft.

This is because there is a causal relationship between the widespread use of these things and the loss of life and injury caused by these things.

Let's go back to guns specifically. Instead of looking at trumped up statistics like 'gun crimes', correlate 'level of gun ownership' in a country and 'number of gun deaths' in that same country.

You get a straight line. The U.S., which has the highest number of guns owned per person also has the highest number of gun deaths per person. Medium countries, like Switzerland, Canada and Australia, have medium levels of gun deaths. Countries with very low levels of gun ownership, like Britain and Japan, have very low levels of gun deaths.

This is, of course, exactly what you would expect, which is why the gun lobby howls every time someone s killed. It's not true, they cry, over and over, knowing that if they say the big lie enough times, people will believe it.

But it's still a lie. Guns kill people. The more guns you have, the more people die. That's why they should be banned.