Gun Ownership is a Net Benefit to Society
by Bruce N. Mills

PUBLICATION: The Hamilton Spectator
DATE: 2006.10.19
SECTION: Opinion
BYLINE: Bruce Mills
SOURCE: The Hamilton Spectator
ILLUSTRATION: Photo: Bruce Mills

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Gun ownership is a net benefit to society

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The Firearms Act is an onerous and draconian law which was built on a foundation of lies and which serves only to harass and criminalize law- abiding gun owners. It was foisted upon a largely uninformed populace, based on false promises of crime control and public safety.

The whole purpose of the Firearms Act was to create a "culture of safety" and to "reduce crime," neither of which it has accomplished.

There are several things that could have been done with the more than $1 billion and 10 years of effort that have been wasted on implementing this boondoggle.

First would be focusing the justice system on the real problem -- criminals.

Next would be allowing responsible law-abiding citizens to exercise their right to carry arms on their person for their own defence.

Last would be mandatory, age-appropriate firearms safety and shooting training in our schools.

All so-called gun control laws do is serve to harass and criminalize the law-abiding gun owner.

What we should be doing is focusing on a concerted program of effective criminal control, not useless and placebo gun control. This would include implementing a Firearms Prohibition Registry of the 176,000 Canadians who have a court-ordered firearms prohibition and the more than 37,000 who have had restraining orders imposed by the courts.

These people have been shown, by their actions and through due process, to be too dangerous to be allowed to own guns.

And yet they are not required to advise the police when they move, nor are they forced to submit to periodic inspections of their abode to ensure compliance unlike the two million law-abiding gun owners of Canada.

If public safety was really the goal, then it only makes sense to provide mandatory, age-appropriate safe firearms handling and shooting training in our schools.

A study in Scotland showed that playing with toy guns was actually beneficial for young boys, acting as a release for aggressive feelings while in a safe and structured environment.

A U.S. Department of Justice study of 4,000 at-risk delinquent kids showed children who receive real guns legitimately from their parents engage in no future gun crimes at all and are less likely to engage in any type of criminal activity than those kids who received no gun at all.

Firearms safety is a life skill that everyone can benefit from and transfer to other forms of safety training.

Responsible citizens must be allowed to exercise their right to self-defence and must be permitted access to the most effective means to secure that right. Guns are used in Canada between 60,000 and 80,000 times a year for defence of self or property from both two- and four-legged predators. For every life lost to guns, 40 are saved.

In the 37 U.S. states that have passed "shall issue" concealed carry laws (which essentially require authorities to issue permits for carrying a concealed weapon unless there is good reason not to), confrontational crimes drop on average by 24 per cent. Even those who disagree with such laws accrue the benefit. There are no shootouts and no "blood running in the streets" as the anti-gun extremists always screech will happen whenever one of these laws is up for passage.

This is the effect of the real gun culture. The gun culture of the legitimate, law-abiding, gun-owning citizen is a culture of safety, respect and responsibility. The real gun culture teaches respect for firearms, the user, and others. It teaches safety and responsibility in the use of firearms. It fosters independence, self-reliance, self-esteem and confidence in the individual. It helps to reduce crime and protect others in society.

Gun ownership is a right, not a crime. Gun ownership is a net benefit to society.

Bruce Mills lives in Dundas and writes regularly on gun control issues.