As strange as it seems, the gun debate in Canada is once again ignited by a mass shooting in another country. Many with a limited understanding of the topic can hardly delay themselves from scrambling to the top of the highest peak to wave a bloody shirt and wag a finger at millions who did nothing to influence this horrid event. It is the epitome of disingenuous and self-serving behavior. The idea is always the same: leverage the unimaginable suffering of families and victims to either elevate one’s self esteem or promote ill-informed policies while mitigating any real scrutiny on those policies.
In an opinion article in The Globe and Mail, Peter Donolo shares his thoughts on the horrific events in Florida while quoting a poll from his own company. One would be forgiven for trusting the opinion of someone with Donolo’s pedigree, having worked in some capacity with a past Prime Minister, among other high-profile appointments. That implied legitimacy, paired with national exposure, does come with some responsibility though. In this case, it seems ignored. Dismissing the irony, Mr. Donolo accuses Canadians of “smugly” believing we are superior in our lack of inappropriate behavior involving the use of firearms. “Smugness” is certainly a central feature in his article.
While offering statistically inspired conclusions, his first offering to mislead us is the notion that if you remove enough countries from your analysis, Canada is the number one place to be killed with a firearm. Conveniently omitted is the fact that the average number of homicides with firearms over the last 10 years is roughly 170 per year. This is a similar amount to the number of Canadians injured by lightning in our country per year; that number is 140. As shockingly uncommon as it is to be murdered with a firearm in Canada, you would never know it based on this past week’s coverage. It required about five minutes of Googling to verify the above figures.
The hammer of truth crashes down again revealing Canada has “one of the highest suicide-by-firearm rates in the developed world”. Of course, the desired emotional reaction wouldn’t be realized if you included the actual numbers involved: 16% of suicides are committed by firearm. By including this point, Donolo implies he’s concerned with firearms being used to end one’s life, yet his political cohorts advocate state-assisted suicide. Absent the context that roughly 300,000 Canadians die every year from various causes, an ever more tangled ideological web is spun for the uniformed reader.
Donolo then reaches into matters he seems to know virtually nothing about. The commentary features wild-eyed claims and sweeping conclusions. The first that “reasonable and effective gun controls were systematically destroyed at the federal level in this country over the past decade” is glaringly unsupported. In fact, a Canadian peer reviewed study [Canadian Firearms Legislation and Effects on Homicide 1974 to 2008] concluded that no demonstrable relationship exists between Canada’s gun control laws and meaningful aspects of public safety. Despite the limitless incredulity from the other side, no competing peer-reviewed data has been made available to support their claims. As a recognized expert in this field, I can assure you the gun control regime in Canada is far from “dismantled”.
Undeterred by lack of a compelling argument, the trusted tool of character assassination now need be deployed. As no relevant information exists to impugn the reputation of Bob Zimmer, a respected Canadian MP, he must be compared to a culture deemed toxic in [again] another country. While he’s at it, he drags in a Not-for-Profit organization that produces educational material to help people understand whether firearms and licensed gun owners represent a disproportionate risk to public safety (they don’t), describing it as the “Second Amendment-sounding Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights. Clearly reading the name of the organization was the limit of his research there.
Here are some facts worth considering. Canada has an incredibly intrusive and strict licensing system. There is no evidence in existence in Canada that shows that licensed gun owners represent a significant risk to public safety. The clear majority of Canada’s firearm laws are paperwork and administrative regulations that have no effect on the behavior of criminals. The recent increase [of 44 additional] firearms homicides in 2016 involve gangs and other criminal activity excluding the actual shooting. The number of firearm accidents resulting in death per year is almost identical to the number of Canadians killed by lightning: approximately nine. Note the strikingly low numbers in all these areas while there are 2.1 million licensed gun owners and an estimated 14-20 million guns in circulation. There are many countries where guns are completely banned, yet tens of thousands are being shot. How is all this contradictory [and easily verified] evidence possible? And what about this toxic culture?
The toxic culture that is ruining Canada is one where it’s permissible to mislead, misdirect and outright lie for one’s own self-interest or ideological pursuits, a culture where no one bats an eye when they witness this type of behavior. There are now 500 more suicides per year in Canada than in 2011. Is all this because Canadians own firearms too?
If someone states that civilian firearm ownership in Canada represents an unacceptable risk to public safety, let them prove it with facts and evidence in the daylight of mature and honest discussion. Thankfully, the Trudeau government has committed to a “fact-based” approach to law-making so confidence is high that this will all get worked out.