"As I mused, the fire burned"

Reflection on life as a person of faith.

Gun Registry and Violence

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The debate over something as silly as the long gun registry drives me crazy. What bothers me more than anything is the use of outright lies by supporters – like, the registry saves lives. I have not seen any support of a saved life. After 14 some years you would think if the registry worked there would be that kind of proof. Or, before the registry was brought in, name a death that would have been prevented. The reason we’ve not heard of anyone is because they don’t exist – the registry did not, has not, and will not save a single life.

The reason we’ve not heard that is tied to a second lie – that doing away with the registry will mean the end of reference and background checks for firearms owners. Heather Mallick of the Toronto Star trumpetted this one loudly and incorrectly.

Background and reference checks are a part of the firearm licensing system, not the registry. Two things – a license to possess or acquire (that requires background and reference checks etc); a registration of a firearm when you purchase it (with no requirement for background or reference checks…because they’ve already been done under the license system). Again – licenses identify those cleared to possess firearms (people); the registry records firearms (things).

What leaves me absolutely speechless, however, is the continued refrain from Mallick that women will die if the “long-gun” registry is ended. The research on this suggests that there is an inverse relationship between firearm ownership and violence against women. Yes, that’s what I said, an inverse relationship. What that means is that the more women that own firearms, the less violence against women.

Rather impressive research from a US statistician (John Lott) in his book, “More Guns, Less Crime” demonstrates that when more permissive firearms laws are introduced, violence against women decreases dramatically. Violent crimes overall decrease dramatically, replaced with a slight increase in property crimes. This seems so obvious as to be intuitive, but Lott has demonstrated it quite well. While he has critics, there has not been any study that has demonstrated a worsening of violent crime after a loosening of firearms laws (the most unfavourable studies show no change, while the best show dramatic decreases).

Before the US liberalized most of their state gun laws (to mandate the issue of concealed carry permits if you passed the background checks) the police and social scientists argued that it would turn the US into the wild west, that there would be a dramatic increase in violent crime, and that the police would face higher threat levels.

After the change, many police across the US now admit that it has been a positive change. Results from a couple of decades of data suggest that a concealed carry rate of just a few percent of the population results in huge decreases in violent crime. This is not because criminals are being killed, but because most encounters are resolved by an armed citizen displaying their intent to defend themselves, and because of the huge deterrent effect that concealed carry has on crime.

In Canada, it is nearly impossible to obtain a wilderness carry permit (that is, to carry a handgun in plain sight) for those at real risk of wildlife attack (geologists, trappers, etc). When my father-in-law was killed in a bear attack, I wondered if this had been the US if he would have had more than his pocket knife to defend himself.

It would give me great hope in the ongoing debate if the people advocating for a position actually did their homework and argued from a place of knowledge rather than dogmatic emotion. Is it not strange that when such fundamentalism is based in religion we call it misguided and dangerous, but when related to inane firearms laws in Canada it’s called responsible citizenship?

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Written by sameo416

September 21, 2010 at 1:02 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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