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.

25 comments:

  1. I was under the assumption that handguns are illegal thus being in possesion of one is criminal? Am I completely in the dark on this one?

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  2. No, there are currently legal handguns.

    There should not be legal handguns, of course.

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  3. Where any of the handguns used in shootings lately purchased and registered or are they illegal firearms? And if they aren't bought or registered how would a ban have changed the outcome?

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  4. Don't know, don't care.

    In general, guns are dangerous. The details of one particular case don't change that one way or another.

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  5. Hi Stephen,

    I agree with your sentiments, but I do wonder about your impression that Australia has a "medium" level of gun ownership.

    All guns are under a general ban in Australia, although it is possible to obtain a gun license under the same conditions one may obtain a Gun Certificate in the UK - ownership of a gun club and demonstrable ability to store and manage the weapon safely, as well as the lack of a criminal record.

    As such, Australia has a much lower annual rate of gun-related deaths that the USA - less than 1/10th of the per-capita rate of the US; and an annual gun-homicide rate of only 0.3 per 100,000 people (in the year 2000), compared with the UK's 1.61 per 100,000 averaged over the years 1999-2001.

    The statistics I've been able to find tend to put Australia's gun homicide rate well below the UK's as well as the USA's. I'd be interested in your sources if you have any statistics to the contrary, though.

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  6. Every country is a lot lower than the U.S., with correspondingly lower gun death rates.

    As for the exact numbers, I'm working from memory - I looked it all up and produced a chart on NewsTrolls about 8 years ago, but I can't find it.

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  7. Firstly, I do not own a gun and never will. In fact, I do not like guns.

    You say that you do not know or care if the handguns used in the last couple of years were registered or illegal, but it does matter. It matters becasue the guns were illegally owned and imported from the US. A gun ban would not accomplish the goal of reducing crime. Cars kill more people in this country then guns. They are dangerous weapons, should they be banned?

    The best way to prevent handgun crimes is to invest in youth initiative programs in urban areas to reduce gang related violence. Even if a handgun bans eliminates their access to those weapons, they will find something else to use.

    Handgun crime is a symptome of gang related activity. Do you work on the symptome or the virus?

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  8. Use the symptom to spot the virus. You don't need to treat the people without the spots and the fever. Same thing with handguns. If handguns are illegal, it gives us an easy way to spot (and arrest) the gang members.

    You say "A gun ban would not accomplish the goal of reducing crime." That's not my claim. Banning handguns would reduce the number of guns, and hence, the possibility of gun deaths in general.

    Even if banning handguns did not reduce crime, what is the reason for not banning them? They are dangerous and - as you said - used only by criminals. Why not ban them? Where's the harm?

    Cars are not the same as handguns. First, cars are very regulated and drivers must be licensed. Moreover, you can be prohibited from driving. Further, cars are not used as weapons, they are used for transportation. They actually have a useful purpose - unlike handguns.

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  9. I find it very interesting that you say that only criminals own or use handguns. My husband owns two handguns. He uses them for pleasure sport. Does that make my law-abiding, hard-working, Christian husband (who is also a wonderful father) a criminal? There are many, many people in the US that own guns for sport and feel the same way.
    "Guns" do not kill people. PEOPLE kill people. If you take the guns away, they will use knives, or explosives, or some other creative means. Do you also feel that anything that could become a potential weapon should be banned? That would leave us with very few legal items.
    Banning handguns is not the answer to lowering a homicide rate. Whether there are legal guns or not, people will be killed. Why should hard-working, responsible people such as my husband have their Constitutional rights taken away from them because of the negligence of criminals?
    Also, you should keep better track of your statistics. "Leonard" asked you about your statistics and you couldn't produce a source. That makes your claims seem less than credible or perhaps outdated (you said you wrote an article EIGHT years ago?!?).

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  10. I find it very interesting that you say that only criminals own or use handguns.

    I said, if handguns are banned, then only criminals will have handguns. Sheesh, go back and read the post.

    If you take the guns away, they will use knives, or explosives

    Yes, but they won't use guns. It's really easy to kill with guns - really hard with knives (oh, and explosives are already illegal, they won't be using them either).

    Do you also feel that anything that could become a potential weapon should be banned?

    No, I think that things that are weapons should be banned.

    Banning handguns is not the answer to lowering a homicide rate. Whether there are legal guns or not, people will be killed.

    I never promised that banning handguns would be a complete solution. But it is really stupid to leave something as dangerous as handguns lying around. Fewer people, overall, will be killed if handguns are banned - this is every well established. But even if I couldn't guarantee to lower the murder rate, it still makes sense to ban handguns.

    Why should hard-working, responsible people such as my husband have their Constitutional rights taken away from them because of the negligence of criminals?

    Because by contributing to the proliferation of handguns in society, your (otherwise) responsible husband is acting in a careless and irresponsible manner. Thousands of people are killed every year by these guns, and he acts like he doesn't even care! Because if he did care, he'd get rid of the guns, so they don't hurt anybody.

    you should keep better track of your statistics.

    Yeah yeah I'll get right on it - even though none of you gun nuts have been convinced by anything I've said over the last eight years.

    I could prove that guns are evil incarnate, that they cause cancer and global warming, tooth decay, obesity and crime, and you'd still be arguing that they should be legal. Why you all persist in the face of the now routine gun carnage is beyond me.

    But ok, I'll find the stats again.

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  11. I have to say that reading your reply actually made me laugh out loud. So I am a "gun nut"? Do you know me? If you did, you would be laughing, too. I would say that name calling is a little immature, and a less than effective method of swaying opinions to your side. I am very concerned about guns or any other potentially dangerous thing that could cause harm to myself, my children, or my family. Also, my "otherwise responsible" husband is not leaving his guns "lying around". The key to gun ownership is responsibility... locks, keys, education, etc.
    You stated that "Fewer people, overall, will be killed if handguns are banned - this is very well established." Please take a look at the city of Washington DC who has had a gun ban since 1977. Initially the ban produced a lower handgun fatality rate, but then it skyrocketed. In 1977 the population of DC was 690,000 and there were 192 murders with handguns. In 2000 the population was actually lower with 572,000 people but the handgun death rate was higher with 239 murders. In 2006 there were 169 murders in DC from handguns. Looks like that ban did a lot of good! Or how about Chicago, their ban had a similar effect (that is NONE AT ALL) it wasn't until 2004 when they had an amazing 25% decrease in handgun deaths. The cause was not the ban that had been in effect for over a decade but was due to a renewed vigilance in enforcing preexisting gun laws (ie taking them away from criminals--not citizens who are not committing the crimes).
    And yes, this "gun nut" would be very interested in your statistics and the dates of those statistics. I am actually doing research for a debate on the topic. Thanks!

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  12. Hey, I'm not the one who started throwing names around - if you can use loaded language like "law-abiding, hard-working, Christian husband " then I can use "gun nut". Sheesh, I wasn't born yesterday - this kind of slanted argumentation doesn't work here.

    As for your 'stats' - in case you hadn't noticed, both Washington and Chicago are located in the United States, which means there is utterly no barrier to bringing guns into those cities. The cities do not have the jurisdiction to effectively ban guns. The only comparison that can be made is between nations, because nations have the ability to limit the production and import of the weapons.

    In any case - all of that aside - I still haven't heard one good reason to keep guns legal. The tactic that has been used - oh, and it's so common it's boring - is to attack, attack, attack - but to never actually justify why guns should be legal.

    Why not ban them? What harm would it possibly cause?

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  13. Actually you have the burden of proof in this case in which you must prove (without the negative side being able to refute your arguments) that the status quo should be changed. You have not sufficiently provided statistics showing that there is reasonable evidence pointing to the need for laws to be changed. As for the use of loaded language, I'm not so sure "law-abiding", "hard-working", or "Christian" would be considered loaded language, whereas I am positive that "gun nut" would be.
    The fact is we can argue for years on the topic of handgun policy. When you can produce a recent, unbiased source showing the link between handgun bans and lowered death rates, I will consider it. I have never seen such a statistic.
    Oh, and the "one good reason" to keep handguns legal... it is my constitutional right as an American citizen. Seeing as how you are located in Canada, I'm not sure why you are so worried about what we are doing here in the US. But I think that the fact that it is my right as an American is a pretty good reason. As for the harm--the harm that it could cause is not only denying Americans the right to protect themselves but also denying them the enjoyment from the proper use of guns for sport and collection.

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  14. Actually you have the burden of proof... You have not sufficiently provided statistics showing that there is reasonable evidence pointing to the need for laws to be changed.

    In the United States, "Every year, more than 30,000 people are shot to death in murders, suicides, and accidents. Another 65,000 suffer from gun injuries." Cite. That's my proof. Guns are dangerous. That's why they should be banned.

    As for the use of loaded language...

    Go look it up in a logic text. 'Loaded language' comes in two forms - language that makes thinks seem saintly, or language that makes things seem evil.

    The fact is we can argue for years on the topic of handgun policy. When you can produce a recent, unbiased source showing the link between handgun bans and lowered death rates, I will consider it.

    I don't believe you.

    Oh, and the "one good reason" to keep handguns legal... it is my constitutional right as an American citizen.

    That's not a reason. We are questioning whether they should be legal. Saying that they are legal (which is what you do when you cite the constitution) simply begs the question. My argument is that the constitution should be changed, that in its current incarnation it is being misinterpreted and abused.

    Seeing as how you are located in Canada, I'm not sure why you are so worried about what we are doing here in the US.

    I'm not. I honestly don't care.

    If you were to have actually read my post, you'd realize I was writing about canadian media reports. these reports were in response to a murder that took place in Canada.

    The harm that it could cause is not only denying Americans the right to protect themselves but also denying them the enjoyment from the proper use of guns for sport and collection.

    It seems pretty evident that guns are not protecting people. Rather, they are slaughtering people by the tens of thousands. This is probably because guns are not defensive - they don't stop bullets, the only fire bullets.

    As for sport and collections - get another hobby.

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  15. OK, here's the evidence you wanted...

    This table - I assume you can draw the graph for yourself - it is not a perfect line, but it's pretty good, and shows a very clear co-relation between the number of guns and gun deaths. There is also pretty clear evidence of anti-gun policies (eg., laws banning guns) and low levels of gun ownership.

    Here's a different graph - same linear relationship, though - from here.

    Wikipedia (also here) also has slightly different stats, but you get essentially the same graph.




    This study demonstrates a link between gun ownership and crime rates. It also calculates the cost of this.

    The people who say there is no relation between guns, un deaths, and even gun crimes, are simply lying.

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  16. Thank-you for the references Stephen, they're most informative.

    Quite apart from the impact of gun ownership on both criminal and accidental gun deaths, I believe that having people carrying guns around creates a climate of general fear and distrust: a society living in fear of itself.

    There's no better testimony to how much more relaxed and safe a society feels than coming to Australia, where wondering who around you is packing a gun is simply not part of the national psychi.

    I've also lived in the UK, pre-IRA-disarmament, and while there was certainly some concern over the potential for terrorist attacks, there was no fear of other citizens in the street.

    Having to own and carry a gun, because everyone else owns and carries a gun is a circular argument - rather like this escalator warning sign, warning about bumping your head - on the escalator warning sign: http://flickr.com/photos/missioncontrol/81682725/

    I really enjoy reading your thoughts Stephen. Looking forward to more of your insights.

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  17. Oh jeez, this is too funny. I love self appointed experts on firearms and crime. Okay, I'm cheating somewhat because I actually have earned degrees in criminal justice administration and criminology, and spend 15 years working as a cop. So, unlike Mr. Downes, I can legitimately claim some academic background and personal experience with regard to this subject.

    So what do we have here...

    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.

    And here Mr. Downes was condemning others for "a gloriously stupid line of reasoning". Welcome to the club, Mr. Downes. First, criminals also don't have the necessary firearms licenses, registrations, club memberships, ATC's, etc that are required to legally own a firearm. Seems to me that's a pretty good way to spot criminals as well. Of course, that isn't working at dealing with criminals, but more importantly it doesn't have the appeal of confiscating everyone's handguns, does it?

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

    Great idea. How about other "dangerous things"... like alcohol for example? Given that alcohol slaughters many, many more people in Canada than firearms - not to mention the destruction wreaked by alcholism, fetal alcohol syndrome, etc., I bet you're even more in favour of banning alcohol than handguns. After all, nobody NEEDS a drug that alters their consciousness and impairs their judgement, anymore than they NEED a handgun. Or a car capable of exceeding the speed limit for that matter.

    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.


    Why are statistical analysis that you don't like "trumped up"? Because they don't fit your biases?

    Furthermore, if higher rates of access to firearms has a supposedly causal relationship with firearms crime, how come Israel and Switzerland who both have higher rates of firearms possession than the US contrary to what you're saying have much lower crime rates? Why does Finland, with almost the same rate of access to firearms, also have a much lower firearms crime rate? And why does Jamaica, with such a low rate of access to firearms (and no shared border with the US), have a staggeringly high rate of firearms crime, even compared to the US?

    Jeez, there goes the "more guns means more gun crimes" and "you get a straight line" theory. How sad.

    But still... there's a causal relationship, you say? Oh please, share the title of the research establishing a causal relationship between firearms ownership and crime - one that appeared in a peer reviewed criminology journal if you don't mind. And spare me the references to the Coalition for Gun Control - they cite enough research that has has miserably failed peer review that they are anything but an unbiased source of information.

    Furthermore, given that you describe yourself as a "researcher" working for the Canadian government, it is more than a little troubling that you think the relationship between ownership of firearms and and number of gun deaths establishes a causal relationship. You have basically (deliberately?) chosen to ignore every single other possible causal factor that could be involved. And there's lots of them.

    And here's an interesting thought: firearms ownership is highest among the upper classes and lowest in the lower classes in both Canada and the US. Now if there is indeed a direct causal relationship between firearms ownership and gun deaths... how come the upper classes aren't bumping each other off with firearms at the same rate lower class folks are? Hmmmm... maybe there ARE some other causes Mr. Downes either can't conceive of or doesn't want to consider.

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

    Good idea. And let's ban alcohol as well using the same rational.

    After all, 1700 people are killed in Canada each year just by the criminal use of alcohol by impaired drivers. There are numerous studies that have appeared in refereed journals that have established that alcohol use is a causal factor in 50% of all the violent crime in Canada. 50%! That includes all the murders with firearms, by the way. Let's not even discuss the butcher's bill due to alcoholism, fetal alcohol syndrome, domestic violence, family breakups, ruined careers, etc. Compared to the havoc booze wreaks in Canada, through criminal use and otherwise, the results of criminal use of firearms is almost a joke. Firearms aren't even in the same league as alcohol when it comes to killing Canadians - or Americans, for that matter.

    But will you see the gun grabbers out there like Mr. Downes also advocating a ban on alcohol because it's simply too dangerous to have around? Hell no! They kind of like having access to the booze of their choice - or at the very least their family and friends do. And of course, a ban on booze would affect THEM, whereas a ban on firearms would just affect them nasty 'ol gun owners. The hypocrisy is unbelievable.

    Every country is a lot lower than the U.S., with correspondingly lower gun death rates.

    For somebody who throws out the accusation that something is "a lie" a lot, you sure have a reoccuring problem with posting information that is a lie.

    There are at least two countries with higher rates of firearm possession than the US, and both have significantly lower incidences of gun deaths. There are also countries with lower rates of firearm possession that have higher incidences of gun deaths per capita.

    Use the symptom to spot the virus. You don't need to treat the people without the spots and the fever. Same thing with handguns. If handguns are illegal, it gives us an easy way to spot (and arrest) the gang members.

    Another inept attempt at faulty logic. Under the current law in Canada - which has remained about the same for the last 30 years - it is almost impossible for anyone other than a cop or security guard to legally carry a handgun in Canada. Yet, despite the fact anyone other than a uniformed cop or security guard carrying a handgun in a public place is recognizeable as a criminal, your brilliant strategy doesn't seem to be working at giving us an "easy way to spot and arrest gang members". Do you figure making them MORE illegal will suddenly make handguns start shining through clothing like an emergency flare?

    Darn it... another brilliant idea that turned out to be a dismal flop.

    Cars are not the same as handguns. First, cars are very regulated and drivers must be licensed. Moreover, you can be prohibited from driving. Further, cars are not used as weapons, they are used for transportation. They actually have a useful purpose - unlike handguns.

    About the only part he got right is that cars aren't like handguns.

    Handguns and their law abiding owners are, by far, more regulated and controlled than cars are. I just WISH those who owned cars had to put up with what handgun owners do.

    Before you can ever own a handgun, much less take it to the range to use it, you have to take and pass a safety course. You don't actually have to have any kind of a license to buy a car.

    How many provinces require you to pass a safety course before taking a driver's license test? And once you have a driver's license, you can use that vehicle on almost any public roadway. In fact, you need neither drivers license NOR to register a vehicle if you're not going to operate the vehicle on gazetted roads. Handguns, on the other hand, need additional permits to take them from your home to the range, and those permits are very specific as to routes, destination, and back home. Vehicle users don't have to worry about that.

    You can be prohibited from driving - although the number of drunk drivers who kill somebody and receive a significant prohibition is almost nonexistant. Of course, you can also be prohibited from owning firearms as well - and those prohibitions are generally for life.

    Very, very few legally owned handguns in Canada are used as "weapons" as Mr. Downes infers. There's over a million legally owned handguns in Canada, and if they are indeed intended and used as weapons, when we look at the annual figures for crimes with handguns, clearly somebody should be suing the manufacturers because they must be defective.

    Mr. Downes also infers that while cars have a "useful purpose", handguns don't. What he's saying is because he personally has no use for a handgun, that means they have no useful purpose to anyone else either. The reality is that handguns are very popular in both national and Olympic sports - numerous Olympic gold medals have been won by Canadian handgunners as just one example. I'll leave it to Mr. Downes to explain to those Olympians why they don't actually have a "useful purpose" for a handgun. Obviously, while I think a recreational use of a handgun does constitute a "useful purpose" Mr. Downes does not agree.

    And given the number of Canadians slaughtered and maimed by motor vehicles every year in Canada - through criminal acts in their operation or otherwise - arguing they're "useful" hardly means their destruction cannot be compared to that of handguns. Dead is dead, and whether it was a handgun or a car being operated criminally, I really don't think it matters to the victim.

    The secret here, boys and girls, is that Mr. Downes really values the ability to have cars, no matter how many Canadians they slaughter each year - but as he has no interest or use for a handgun, then they should all be confiscated.

    Because by contributing to the proliferation of handguns in society, your (otherwise) responsible husband is acting in a careless and irresponsible manner. Thousands of people are killed every year by these guns, and he acts like he doesn't even care! Because if he did care, he'd get rid of the guns, so they don't hurt anybody.

    What a nasty little soul you are!

    Given the number of firearms in this country, the percentage of those firearms who are used to kill somebody is so low it doesn't even approach a number that has any statistical significance. Booze and vehicles on the other hand, ARE statistically significant in killing people.

    Of course, you don't care. By not extending your personal little pogrom to also demand a ban on booze and motor vehicles, you're simply acting in a careless and irresponsible manner. While "thousands" of Canadians are not killed each year by handguns as you state (is that one of those "lies" you talk about?), thousands certainly are killed by both alcohol and cars. You don't seem to have a problem with that. Is it perhaps because you can see yourself liking to booze it up once in a while and cars are kind of convenient for you?

    As for your 'stats' - in case you hadn't noticed, both Washington and Chicago are located in the United States, which means there is utterly no barrier to bringing guns into those cities. The cities do not have the jurisdiction to effectively ban guns. The only comparison that can be made is between nations, because nations have the ability to limit the production and import of the weapons.
    Oh, what a bunch of BS.

    First, legal ownership of firearms in jurisdictions like Washington HAS been very effectively eliminated. But firearms crime on the other hand, has skyrocketed. Obviously, this is a fact that just doesn't fit your warped views on how gun control would supposedly work if you had your way. Ergo, all you're left with is to whine "but that doesn't count". I guess it only counts if it supports your warped theories!

    It's an odd thing, but in the US the jurisdictions with the most severe firearms restrictions have the highest firearms crime rates. That's what Al Gore would call "An inconvenient truth"

    Saying it only counts if nations ban firearms is more BS. The US, Canada, and others have also banned heroin, cocaine, etc; while you may not have noticed, it hasn't stopped the smuggling and criminal use of those substances one iota. Of course, since England (hint: an island that does not share a border with the US) confiscated all the legally owned firearms in that country, firearms crime has increased, not decreased. Ditto for Jamaica, incidentally.

    So much for the intriguing theory that if you just take all those guns that you don't like away from the law abiding Canadians who own them, things will get better. It didn't work in England, it didn't work in Jamaica, and it hasn't worked in other countries. Yet magically - supposedly - it would work here.

    Don't quit your day job to take up criminology... In fact, don't even quit your government job.

    In any case - all of that aside - I still haven't heard one good reason to keep guns legal. The tactic that has been used - oh, and it's so common it's boring - is to attack, attack, attack - but to never actually justify why guns should be legal.

    Why not ban them? What harm would it possibly cause?


    Here's a guy rabidly attacking law abiding firearms owners in this country, and yet when they defend their sports and hobbies, THEY'RE the ones who are "attacking". Yeah, right... he wants the government to essentially steal legally owned property from firearms owners, and when they rebutt his feeble arguments, they're "attacking"... Wow.

    So... what harm would it cause? Oh, no more than banning alcohol; peoples' lifestyles would change - but the boozers would be healthier for it. Booze does help the economy of course, but the firearms/shooting industry and sports, although smaller in comparison, isn't chump change either. Hmmmm... come to think of it, cigarettes also contribute to the economy. The difference is that use of alcohol and cigarettes costs our economy one hell of a lot more than firearms ever do. The whining about the costs of gun violence (which always skip over the financial benefits of firearms ownership, of course) is VERY careful to never compare those to the costs resulting from continuing to allow Mr. Downes to continue to enjoy his booze and drive his car.

    I can't help shake my head at the "doctrine of need" philosphy used so enthusiastically. I wouldn't even mind it, if you'd also justify a need for everything you own or do that might be harmful. Nobody "needs" a vehicle that will exceed the speed limit or that is excessively large. Let's require you to use public transport where available, slave engine regulators to GPS that will only allow vehicles to travel to certain places at certain speeds, etc. No booze for you - you don't "need" booze.

    Nobody "needs" a backyard swimming pool either. Oh sure, you can have fun and recreation with one - just like you can have fun and recreation with a handgun - but backyard pools kill more kids than handguns do in Canada every year. Ban 'em!

    The thing about the "you don't NEED..." argument is that, first, it is invariably hypocritical because those advancing it are not prepared to have banned everything that they own and do that they don't "need". And second, if our society ever does get to the point where we ban everything that a need can't be established for, it will be a frightening country to live in.

    I don't believe you.

    Now that's one hell of a rebuttal when somebody asks you to produce an unbiased source showing anywhere that a handgun ban has resulted in lowered death rates.

    Of course, that's about all you've got because as Washington, England, Jamaica, etc have shown, you can't produce. So, "I don't believe you" is all you've got.

    It seems pretty evident that guns are not protecting people.

    I can't say I'm greatly surprised to see you post that - it's already fairly evident that any "research" you've done in this issue is skewed at best.

    Dr. Gary Kleck has been doing research on this for years. He's definitely left wing, doesn't like guns, and certainly doesn't belong to the NRA. His research - peer reviewed every time - has established there are somewhere around 2.5 million defensive uses of firearms in the US every year. Wright & Rossi have done similar research, and self reporting surveys done of incarcerated violent criminals have found that approximately half reported not committing a violent crime or being driven off because the victim turned out to be armed.

    That research has been duplicated elsewhere, including in Canada (although here the numbers are obviously much smaller). The bottom line is that even if only 1 in a 100 of the defensive uses of a firearm saved the user's life, the number of lives saved by lawful use of firearms would still exceed the number taken by the criminal use of firearms.

    And yet you, who constantly throw out the term "lying" referring to what others say and post, tell a bald faced lie in stating that firearms are not protecting people. Why am I not surprised?

    As for sport and collections - get another hobby.

    I'm sure they'll agree to - as soon as you and the rest of they hypocritical gun grabbers agree to a ban on booze, personal motor vehicles, and everything else you enjoy that kills more people in this country than firearms.

    Of course, you won't do that, because then YOU'D be effected, instead of just them nasty ol' gun owners, right? Hypocrite.

    This study demonstrates a link between gun ownership and crime rates. It also calculates the cost of this.

    Oh dear...

    Well, the good news is the same two authors did research that confirmed Kleck's findings - except they found about three million defensive uses of firearms each year, not 2.5 million. So your own researchers are disputing your claim that firearms aren't protecting people. Kind of weaseled your way into a corner there...

    However, what peer reviewed criminology journal did you say this was published in? Oh right... it wasn't. I believe it appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association - if you don't have a problem with that I'm sure you won't have a problem with criminologists publishing papers on how they've found a way to cure diabetes. JAMA, by the way, has a long history of publishing outrageously poor "research" that supports gun control - the Kellerman work being perhaps the mostly widely condemned by real criminologists. It's pretty common for gun control papers they publish as refereed (medical doctors doing peer review of criminology... the mind boggles) being refuted in criminology journals.

    You also forgot to mention that the authors only looked at what they thought were the costs - they chose NOT to look at firearms from a cost/benefits analysis standpoint. In other words, only the bad was looked at, and none of the good.

    There's numerous critiques of this paper to be found on the web, but here's the first one I could find:
    http://tinyurl.com/394xvn

    So... got anything from a criminolology journal... something Wendy Cukier didn't hand you?

    Frankly, for a gun grabbing hypocrite, you're pretty disappointing. Nothing new and original here. The usual demand for restrictions on others that you wouldn't call for on your own much more harmful hobbies and activities. A large smattering of research that has never survived peer review in any reputable criminology journal. Smearing those who don't share your lifestyle and views as being "irresponsible".

    Yup... nothing new here.

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  18. It looks like I've attracted on of those right-wing attack trolls. They are easy to recognize because they post anonymously, claim credentials (usually military or police) that they cannot prove, are abusive, are volumous, and try to browbeat people into submission.

    They also post and post and post so I'll deal with this one just to make the tactic clear but don't intend to get involved in any war with the trolls.

    OK, after a few paragraphs of spouting and abuse, the first actual argument:

    ...criminals also don't have the necessary firearms licenses, registrations, club memberships, ATC's, etc that are required to legally own a firearm. Seems to me that's a pretty good way to spot criminals as well.

    Registering fireams is a good way to hlp spot the illegal ones. However, when the government attempted to register firearms, the gun defenders set off a howl of protest. They actively worked against the registration process and many legal gun owners refused to register their guns.

    I was willing to support registration as an alternative to banning guns altogether. I have long recognized that there is a role for long guns. I know people who hunt for their winter meat supply, for example. But gun advocates have ben determined to ensure that registration does not work.

    In any case, it's a lot easier to simply spot the firearm than it is to spot the firearm and then to ask whether it's registered.

    OK, next argument.

    How about other "dangerous things"... like alcohol for example?

    This argument appears in several places (trolls repeat themselves lot, hammering the same point home over and over). I'll deal with it here.

    The response is, simply, the dangerous uses of alcohol - like drinking and driving, for example - are banned. Which is exactly what you would expect.

    You are not allowede to drink alcohol in public places. You must consume alcohol only in your own home or on licensed premises. Children are not allowed to consume alcohol. Only government agencies or their licensed agents may sell alcohol.

    If guns were treated the way alcohol is today, the gun defenders would set off a howl of protest. And guns are even more dangerous than alcohol, and do not have the redeeming value that alcohol does.

    OK, on to a subargument that also shows up in a few places.

    I bet you're even more in favour of banning alcohol than handguns. After all, nobody NEEDS a drug that alters their consciousness and impairs their judgement, anymore than they NEED a handgun. Or a car capable of exceeding the speed limit for that matter.

    This misrepresents my argument. I do not say that things can be banned just because they're not needed.

    OK, moving on.

    Why are statistical analysis that you don't like "trumped up"? Because they don't fit your biases?

    Furthermore, if higher rates of access to firearms has a supposedly causal relationship with firearms crime, how come Israel and Switzerland who both have higher rates of firearms possession than the US contrary to what you're saying have much lower crime rates?

    This is a key move all gun defenders make. They change the subject. People who oppose guns are opposed because of the deaths they cause. But the gun defenders always want to talk about crime. They only want to talk about crime.

    That's why I don't want to use statistics that measure crime. They are irelevant to my argument. Many crimes have nothing to do with guns. Why would anyone expect a corelation between guns and crime then?

    The problm with guns is that they kill people. A lot of people. That is the statistic I use to support my argument.

    You don't get to swap that statistic out and substitute in an irrelevant statistic. The relationship is between gun ownership and gun death. The other statistics are just distractions, intened to draw readers' attention away from the key fact, that guns kill people.

    OK, here's an interesting line of reasoning...

    ...you think the relationship between ownership of firearms and and number of gun deaths establishes a causal relationship. You have basically (deliberately?) chosen to ignore every single other possible causal factor that could be involved. And there's lots of them.

    I am willing to consider the possibility that gun deaths are caused by something other than guns...

    And here's an interesting thought: firearms ownership is highest among the upper classes and lowest in the lower classes in both Canada and the US. Now if there is indeed a direct causal relationship between firearms ownership and gun deaths... how come the upper classes aren't bumping each other off with firearms at the same rate lower class folks are? Hmmmm... maybe there ARE some other causes Mr. Downes either can't conceive of or doesn't want to consider.

    Firearm rates of ownership are much higher among the higher classes. But many more firearms are owned by people in lower classes, because there are many more people at the lower classes. That's why you see more deaths in the lower classes - more people, and more guns.

    If the writer had presented actual statistics, instead of making stuff up, the nature of the deception here would be a lot clearer.

    OK, now looking at the statistics...

    There are at least two countries with higher rates of firearm possession than the US, and both have significantly lower incidences of gun deaths. There are also countries with lower rates of firearm possession that have higher incidences of gun deaths per capita.

    On a guns per capita basis, no nation has a higher ownership rate than the U.S. On a 'percent of households with guns' (a very odd measure) some nations appear to have a higher rate of gun ownership. And yes, on my chart, Finland shows a higher ownership and a lower number of gun deaths.

    But not much lower. Finland still easily outdistances almost every other nation when it comes to gun deaths. So do other high ownership countries, like Switzerland. Correct the graph to refect per capita ownership and you get a much neater straight line. But even the uncorrected graph wtill shows the trend clearly. In general, countries with lower gun ownership have fewer gun deaths,

    OK, next...

    Under the current law in Canada - which has remained about the same for the last 30 years - it is almost impossible for anyone other than a cop or security guard to legally carry a handgun in Canada.

    This shifts the focus from 'owning guns' to 'carrying guns'. People can still own handguns in Canada - that's why I am arguing for a handgun ban. And people who own handguns can transport them (for, say, home to the gun club). To 'carry' a gun is a very specific action, one tht I am not discussing at all.

    Yet, despite the fact anyone other than a uniformed cop or security guard carrying a handgun in a public place is recognizeable as a criminal, your brilliant strategy doesn't seem to be working at giving us an "easy way to spot and arrest gang members".

    I don't see any reason to believe that this is true.

    That said, again, I am not talking simply about 'carrying a handgun in a public place'. This is a redefinition that changes the argument. There is a big difference between any handgun and 'carrying a handgun in a public place'.

    OK, now we get the same 'alcohol' argument, except this time with cars.

    Handguns and their law abiding owners are, by far, more regulated and controlled than cars are. I just WISH those who owned cars had to put up with what handgun owners do.

    No part of my argument depends on asserting that handguns are less regulated than cars. This is all a distraction.

    OK, now we get to the actual 'uses' of handguns argument. First...

    Very, very few legally owned handguns in Canada are used as "weapons" as Mr. Downes infers.

    I do not 'infer' that handguns are used as weapons. I assert that handguns are weapons. You can't make a handgun somehow 'not a weapon' by playing with words.

    Second...

    The reality is that handguns are very popular in both national and Olympic sports - numerous Olympic gold medals have been won by Canadian handgunners as just one example.

    In fact, only one Canadian has won Olympic gold with a pistol, Linda Thom at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

    But people can still participate in target shooting without owning handguns. They can attend specialized facilities designed for this purpose, where the guns are otherwise kept under lock and key. You don't need to own the pinball machine to be a pinball wizard; you don't need to own the gun to become an expert shooter.

    Third...

    Dr. Gary Kleck has been doing research on this for years... His research - peer reviewed every time - has established there are somewhere around 2.5 million defensive uses of firearms in the US every year.

    According to Kleck, a gun is "used" if a person says to someone else, "stop, I've got a gun."

    By this definition, I have had a gun "used" on me a number of times while travelling in the U.S. I actually describe such a use in another post.

    But it's a sham. I was never a threat, not even close to a threat. The "use" of the gun did not change my behaviour. The "use" existed entirely in the "user's" mind.

    OK, now we look at the gun defender's favorite statistic, Washington D.C.

    First, legal ownership of firearms in jurisdictions like Washington HAS been very effectively eliminated. But firearms crime on the other hand, has skyrocketed.

    To my knowledge, Washington still does not have border controls. D.C. is just a tiny little square in a huge metropolitan area. A gun ban in that one little area is useless.

    Also, notice the change of topic to 'crime' again. Talking about crime is irrelevant. That's not why I'm arguing against guns. Handguns were banned in England, and gun deaths are almost zero there. About one percent the rate of gun deaths in the U.S. Yet the writer calls this a 'failure'.

    ---

    That's it for this post.

    I would like to note that the author fills this post with personal attacks and baseless accusations. I allow one such post to appear here so people can see it for themselves. But I do not intend to allow this blog to be filled with such writing.

    Feel free to respond, but keep the personal attacks to yourself. I will delete the posts that are abusive. Don't think you've won some phallic victory if I delete one of your posts. It means only that you were incapable of arguing without being offensive.

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  19. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  20. Rick said:

    If you delete my post I won't see it in any sexual manner, much less as any kind of a victory. I'll just presume that when you and your flimsy rational gets skewered, your last ditch position is to make sure posts that do that never see the light of day. Fair enough?

    I deleted your post. Because the rest of it was written as this sentence was, in a belittling and demeaning manner.

    You want to write like that, do it on your blog. My blog, my rules. Take your nastiness elsewhere.

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  21. Hello, For what it's worth, I have heard this arguument so many times that I feel I must share a story with you. Please pay close attention to the words in this response. Let me start by saying that I am not a gun lover,hunter, or advicate of abolishing the right to protect one's self with a firearm. There was an incident here in Arizona where a family of three were sleeping in thier home late one night. An intruder broke in and only armed with a knife(which is labled as a deadly weapon in every state here in th U.S., and abroad) stabbed the Husband 4 times afer a short scuffle. He was only 5'9 and 153 lbs.. The intruder, a 230 lbs. man. He than gathered the wife and the 16 year old daughter and raped them both in front of the husband who did not die but was incompasitated by the wounds to his chest. After the rape the intruder then cut the throuts of both females, in front of the husband, and fled only to be caught almost a year later. know... Everyone who has responded to the "Handgun Ban Post" seems to be educated enough to agree that this is hands down the worst nightmare come true if you have a family. This poor man had no chance of defending himself or his family against a man who even without a knife could have had his way with him seeing how he was 73 lbs. heavier. But this guy also had a knife!! Something you can buy at a convenience store while you're buying milk. I cannot tell you how many families, even anti-gun families, that week went and bought a firarm for the house. Not because a gang had shot up thier house in a drive by. Or because There was some type of gun related violence in the area. No... It is because the reality is no matter what weapon an individuale chooses to use against you and your family, the scary thing is he has made up his mind to inflict harm and or death. This is something that cannot be controlled by laws and rules and regulations. This was a sick individual and they are not limited to race,color or creed. It's only when a crime like this hits close to home do we acknoledge that this is a dangerouse world and everything we have can be taken away from us in the most horrific way. This is why I strongley believe that having the right to bear arms for the sole purpose of defending you and your loved ones is vital. It is the ultimate defence weather you like it or not, it is a nessaccary evil that exists in our world. You are not going to abolish all the guns in the world that are in circulation. And passing more laws and restrictions will only effect law abiding citizens. CRIMINALS DO NOT FOLLOW LAWS AND WOULD NOT BE EFFECTED BY THEM. THIS IS THE COLD,HARD,TRUTH. For those of you who do not believe this... WAKE THE HELL UP. We all live in a state of a false sence of security, and we believe the police are there to protect us. Granted the police do a great job at most things, but let's face it, They are usually called to the sceen after the fact and are not there during. I wonder how your views would change if you or someone close to you had experienced something similar like the story mentioned above. Thank you very much for your time.
    God Bless, Daniel

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  22. Here in the UK, since the general prohibition of small arms in 1997, we have seen a year on year increase in recorded general firearms crime, the greatest proportion of which being with handguns. The police state that firearms crime was rising before 1997 , shortened shotguns being the favoured criminal weapon. The government arguement for a prohibition of small arms was based on the idea that concealability and rapid fire of pistols were "especially dangerous". This reasoning is of course countered when you look back at shortened shotgun use. The other factor is that a simple long coat or sports bag again changes the dimension of concealability. The general prohibition captured 69000+/- pistols (the legal ones), the police estimated that this was 8% of the total of handguns in the UK (the rest illegal). Do I now feel safer? hmm, not so sure LOL. We have a special situation in the UK, we are made up of 4 countries (Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland) Pistols are only banned in three of these countries! Do we see a flood of handguns from Northern Ireland (NI) across the internal border? No, ask the police. Does NI have a higher murder rate than the rest of the UK? No. Do we have a bigger problem with Knife Murder? Yes (3 teenagers dead in london, england in a week!!) We sell knives in Supermarkets, hardware stores, general stores, camping stores! The question is not why do people want to kill with one weapon as opposed to another, but why the heck are teenagers killing each other full stop!!

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  23. Your response to Rick:
    The response is, simply, the dangerous uses of alcohol - like drinking and driving, for example - are banned. Which is exactly what you would expect.

    You are not allowede to drink alcohol in public places. You must consume alcohol only in your own home or on licensed premises. Children are not allowed to consume alcohol. Only government agencies or their licensed agents may sell alcohol.

    If guns were treated the way alcohol is today, the gun defenders would set off a howl of protest. And guns are even more dangerous than alcohol, and do not have the redeeming value that alcohol does.


    OK, several counterpoints here. You state that "dangerous uses" of alcohol are already banned. Yet that does nothing for those people who still drink and drive, etc.
    Dangerous uses of firearms is also banned.
    You can't have your cake and eat it too. Either the same standards apply for all, or the inconsistency in the argument fails the entire argument.

    Also, concerning alcohol: Home brewers and vintners can manufacture their own alcohol - homemade beer and wine. And how many public events, such as sports events and festivals (unless they don't have Octoberfest where you live) is alcohol served at. Have you been out boating? Fishing? Golfing - check out the alcohol use.

    And the last sentence really puzzles me - "And guns are even more dangerous than alcohol, and do not have the redeeming value that alcohol does." What "redeeming" values does alcohol actually have? Alcohol directly affects brain function. Many drugs (legal and illegal) do the same. This is a redeeming value. Allowing drunk drivers to kill and maim people?

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  24. This guy is a crackpot! I live in the United States and I carry a handgun and am legally allowed to carry concealed and find no problem with lawful citizens to own and carry. As a matter of fact would feel more comfortable with a law abiding citizen owning and carrying their pieces.
    If this guy was our president we would have to use your blood to water our liberty tree. It's people like you who make law abiding people like me a criminal. Shame on you. Please refer to "THe Natural Rights of man" by John Lock

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  25. "Rights of Man" was written by Thomas Paine.

    John Locke (not Lock) wrote several books, none of them titled anything remotely like "The Natural Rights of Man". Perhaps you are referring to his "Two Treatises of Government"?

    I any case, I find nowhere in Locke a defense of personal handguns.

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I welcome your comments - I'm really sorry about the moderation, but Google's filters are basically ineffective.