"No Gun, No Funeral" makes up its own facts
In the never-ending pantheon of lazy-minded solutions to gun crime, the recently-proposed national ban on handguns ranks pretty close to the top of the list with the federal long gun registry.
The website coincides with a new rhetorical tactic launched by Onatrio's Liberal premier Dalton "Flying" McGuinty, using the province's Attorney General, Michael Bryant, as a proxy. Bryant has recently revealled that he's made up "No Gun, No Funeral" buttons that he carries around in his pocket and distributes.
Which is actually so two years ago. Bryant's apparent ability to miss a trend by a full couple of years notwithstanding, one wonders if it's merely coincidental.
The centrepiece of Bryant's "No Gun, No Funeral" campaign is clearly the "No Gun, No Funeral" website. Run by "a group of Canadians dedicated to tougher gun controls in Canada",, the website tries to dispell a number of myths regarding handgun bans and gun control, most of which actually turn out to be... well... true.
The Get the Facts section of the site actually starts off with the following hilarious claim: "About 135 people are murdered every year with a handgun, and many more die as a result of suicide or accidents involving a handgun."
Now, of course what's hilarious isn't that 135 people in Canada are murdered every year with a handgun. What is hilarious is that proponents of the handgun ban apparently want to pretend that banning handguns will prevent people who have decided to kill themselves from doing so, and it probably will prevent them from killing themselves... with a handgun. There are plenty of other methods a person could use to kill someone. (Oops.)
The first piss-poor attempt at mythbusting addresses the idea that "handguns are already virtually banned in Canada", then cites what the site suggests are fairly lax gun control policies: "Anyone who (1) is over 18, (2) passes a safety course and background check, and (3) either has a membership in a gun club OR declares themselves to be a collector, can get a license to buy a handgun."
Of the myths "busted" this one turns out to be closest to being busted, but the website still misses its mark. What it actually demonstrates is that Canadian gun control policy has some very reasonable hoops for prospective gun ownership. On this note, minors and criminals in Canada sure aren't buying them legally, so a handgun ban is really only a legal handgun ban, and focuses on the legal purchase and ownership of handguns, when the real problem is the illegal possession and use of handguns.
Unsurprisingly, this is a point that either escapes the campaign's mangers, or that they merely choose to ignore because they can't counter it.
The second myth "busted" is that "illegal handguns are all smuggled in from the US". The site then claims that "Thousands of legal handguns are stolen each year from Canadian collectors and target shooters. These guns are sold onto the street, and are often used in crimes."
They also cite a study performed by the Toronto Police Service in 2004: "The Toronto Police Service studied 214 handguns recovered by the Guns & Gangs Task Force. They found that almost half (103, or 48%) were from Canadian sources."
Perhaps these guns were indeed from "Canadian sources" but that doesn't necessarily mean they were stolen. Consider a Statistics Canada figure compiled just a year earlier which revealled that only 6% of firearms used to commit a crime had been registered. Thus, 94% of firearms (mostly handguns) used to commit crimes in 2003 were possessed illegally. Meanwhile, an astounding 68% of homicides in Canada during that year involved handguns. Yet, by combining the two statistics, it's revealled that an aggregiate maximum of 6% of those weapons were legally owned.
Of course, the gun crime issue is actually distorted by a single-minded focus on murders. Gun crime is actually a much broader issue, involving assaults, robberies and threats as well.
The third attempt at myth busting deals with a potential claim that "Chicago has a handgun ban, and it doesn’t work." The site claims that Chicago's law outlawing handgun ownership, selling, or possession within its city limits isn't really a ban (although, this is the exact definition of a ban), but merely a "handgun free zone". They note (actually correctly) that anyone in Chicago can leave the city, buy a handgun, then return to the city.
But the same thing could be done in Canada under a nation-wide handgun ban. Prospective illegal handgun owners could cross the border, buy an illegal handgun, smuggle it back across the border, and would get away with it so long as they didn't arouse suspicion.
So when the site owners insist that Chicago doesn't have a handgun ban, and what they have doesn't work, they should have kept in mind that the truth is that Chicago does have a handgun ban and it doesn't work.
The fourth "myth" targeted is that "Australia banned handguns, and crime went up.". The site notes that stringent gun control measures enacted in Australia in 1987 and 1996, respectively, have worked well, eliminating 47% of firearms deaths between 1991 and 2001, although they do admit that property crimes rose.
So basically what they've admitted is "Australia didn't ban handguns, and they still cut their gun-related deaths in half". In other words, gun control measures don't need a handgun ban to work.
But do you know who did attempt a handgun ban? Britain. Guess what happened it Britain: gun crime (particularly handgun crime) increased, instead of decreasing. As of 2001, handgun crime had gone up 40% in two years.
So, what the "No Gun, No Funeral" site owners should be saying is Britain banned handguns, and handgun crimes increased. (Whoops.)
The fifth predictable "myth" busted is "The federal gun registry is a useless waste of cash." Of course, what the site doesn't bother to address at all is that the issue most opponents have with the gun registry actually concerns the longgun registry. While the site claims that "The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police supports it, and says that police across Canada check it more than 5,000 times each day." What they fail to mention is that handguns are the gun of choice for criminals (both worldwide and in Canada), and that the overwhelming majority of those 5,000 gun references involve handguns.
They also fail to recognize that handguns have been required to be registered in Canada since the 1930s.
This is merely a politicized claim -- but more on that later.
The sixth, and final myth-busting attempt deals with claims that "Knife crime is a bigger problem than gun crime." (And if anything, the site's name does suggest that no one, anywhere has ever died except by means of being shot. Ever.)
This attempt at myth-busting only reveals the extent to which advocates of the handgun ban rely on distorting the issue. First off, they admit "On first blush, there are more knife crimes than gun crimes – i.e., knives are used in 27% of aggravated assaults, while guns are used in only 3%"
They later try to dissemble this admission however, when they turn the issue away from aggravated assault (assault intentionally causing bodily harm, often involving a weapon) to murder, as compared to mere common assault. "Look closer – guns are used in 25% of all murders and attempted murders. Why are guns more likely to be used for serious offences like murder, and not lesser offences like assault? Because guns are much more likely to be lethal."
Yet, more murders, attempted murders and aggravated assaults are attempted with knives, blunt weapons, and even fists, which can be every bit as lethal as a gun. But don't tell the "No Gun, No Funeral" campaign organizers that. Better yet, do tell them that, then watch them squirm.
By the logic offered here, we might as well ban baseball bats (sure, they're used recreationally, but they can also be used to hurt people), knives (sure, they're used for culinary purposes, but they can also be used to hurt people), or even hands (hey! we need those!). Not to mention that cars are involved in exponentially more accidental deaths than guns. Better ban them, too.
But the fact is, at the end of the day, the "No Gun, No Funeral" website is merely a not-so-cleverly disguised Liberal party campaign tool. If Bryant wants to pretend the fact that he's distributing buttons featuring the website's slogan is merely a coincidence, he's welcome to, but such a claim (actually as yet unmade) does stretch credulity.
Then one wonders what to make of the following passage: "That’s why we are adding our voice to call on Stephen Harper, Stockwell Day, and the rest of the federal government to get out of the holster of the gun lobby, and enact a sensible, overdue ban on privately owned handguns."
In typical Liberal party fashion, the website seems to be less about gun control as a point of principle, and more about gun control as a mere partisan tactic.
The "No Gun, No Handgun" website would really do much better to swap its slogan for "No Brain, No Pain".