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CHRIS MCGARRY: Gun controls don’t stop criminals

Canadian legislation restricts gun ownership
(File Graphic)
Canadian legislation restricts gun ownership(File Graphic) - FILE

Mental health and criminality are the issues, not private firearms ownership

Albert Einstein is famously quoted as saying; ‘the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result each time.’ A guest column written by Desmond Colohan in the Thursday, Nov. 9 edition of The Guardian speaks in favour of the U.S. government taking legislative action against ‘semi-automatic high-capacity assault rifles’ as the remedy to ending mass shootings in our neighbouring country to the south.

Mr. Colohan believes the Canadian public should not accept the good work the National Rifle Association is doing to protect the gun rights of Americans. Back in the mid-1990s, Canada enacted some of the most stringent gun laws in North America with the passage of C-68. To this day, ‘high-capacity’ magazines are banned and most rifle magazines have to be pinned at five rounds. Has this prevented criminals from doing that they do best? It hasn’t, because no amount of restrictions on law-abiding firearms ownership has ever deterred the criminal element.

Mr. Colohan states that gun violence in the U.S. is ‘an aberration in an otherwise sane world.’ Sorry, but that is not the truth. While the U.S. certainly has a higher rate of gun violence than Canada, Australia and most European Union nations, that rate is much lower when compared to countries with stricter gun laws.

According to 2014 statistics, firearm-related deaths in the U.S. were 10.4 for a total number of 0.00009361 for that year. Meanwhile, the rates of violent gun crime were higher in Brazil (0.00265000), Honduras (0.01083548) and Colombia (0.00439661). In the U.S., there are 112.6 firearms per every 100 persons while in Brazil the number is a mere eight per every 100 persons.

Dr. John Lott, in his bestseller ‘More Guns, Less Crime,’ speaks about the importance of private firearms ownership in a free, democratic society. Guns may take lives. But they also save lives, as evidenced in the recent Texas church shooting, when a local man armed with a ‘semi-automatic assault rifle’ (there is no such thing, by the way) shot the gunman, thus preventing any further casualties.

Most of the mass shootings that have taken place in North America over the past five decades have been the result of mental health, not easy access to firearms. The Texas shooter was dishonourably discharged from the military, had stayed in a mental institution for a period, and was therefore prohibited from owning firearms.

The recent shooting in Abbotsford, B.C. was committed by a man who didn’t have a firearm’s licence, a legal requirement in Canada. Additional restrictions on law-abiding hunters, farmers and sport shooters would not have prevented these two tragedies as those intent on committing harm buy firearms from the black market.

- Chris McGarry of Belfast RR#3 is a member of Canada’s National Firearms Association.

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