Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Stockwell Day: Minsiter of public gun ownership?

Mr. Day: you're minister of public SAFETY, not of public gun ownership

Apparently, federal Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day has put his own guns on ice (Ottawa Citizen, Feb.14/07), at least for now. Hopefully they're locked safely away, along with his jet ski and all the other accoutrements of his illustrious career.

But Day keeps demonstrating an understanding of 'public safety’ as shaky as his notion of a successful photo op. One of his ‘new’ ideas on gun safety is a hotline to "enable people to notify authorities if a gun owner they know becomes unstable,” an old idea that obviously isn’t good enough. Such a hotline was set up in 1998, focused primarily on spousal notification. But in some provinces -- Quebec is one example -- citizens were encouraged to call if they had concerns about ANY gun owner.

Should average citizens take over Mr. Day's responsibility to keep us safe? Is this the Conservative government's idea of a plan, to have us psychoanalyze our neighbours?

Anyone with a true interest in public safety would know this: the risk of homicide is three times higher and the risk of death by suicide is five times higher in homes with firearms; the leading cause of gun death is suicide, usually committed with legally acquired hunting rifles; guns kill more children than cancer, drowning, falls, and fires combined; over 300 spousal violence incidents involving guns are reported annually in Canada.

The gun lobby perspective, that "guns are overregulated now and semi-automatics are unfairly vilified (Ottawa citizen, Feb.15/07)" is dumb as a bag of hammers. They say "firearms are significant, historical artefacts of Canadian culture and world history." So were torture and slavery; should we bring them back, too?

Some practices are bloodthirsty, archaic, and out of place in a modern, peaceful society.

Most Canadians don't think about guns that much; when they do, it certainly isn't as symbols of Canada’s “heritage.” What we think of is the threat to our children, to our communities, to ourselves. We don't care whether guns are automatic or semi-automatic: if they fire 20 rounds at our kid in 4.6 seconds rather than 2.4 seconds, our kid will still be dead. Most Canadians probably want civilian guns much more severely curtailed or better yet, outlawed completely. But we’re not organized the way the gun lobby is. Most Canadians would be appalled by the senseless, wanton death and destruction wreaked by guns and gun owners continuously in this country, if the media would only tell them about it. Here’s a small sampling from recent weeks:

· Edmonton Journal (Feb 10) A 10-year-old boy from a Hutterite colony near Donalda may never walk again after he was shot Thursday with a .22 rifle while playing a game of hide-and-seek.

· Toronto Sun (Feb 2) . . . seconds of confusion and fatal decision recalled by Toronto Police Staff-Sgt. Donald Cole, during the fourth day of a jury inquest into the May 7, 2002, death of Peter Francis, were so gripping jurors seemed to jump when the officer testified how he yelled out: "Police. Drop the gun!" . . .That gun was once a hunting weapon, stolen during a 2002 break-in at a Markham home.

· Montreal Gazette (Feb 02) A provincial coroner who investigated a murder-suicide in Verdun is calling for changes to gun-control legislation that would prevent a suicidal person from being allowed to own a firearm.

· CBC News (Jan 29) An ongoing feud between two groups of friends (!) was the catalyst for a weekend shooting in Pictou County. . . one man shot another with a rifle early Saturday after they got into a fight.

· Soleil de Valleyfield (QC; Jan 29) Nine rifles were stolen from a residence last week.

· Cochrane Times (AB; Jan 17) Blair Allan Elder, 27, was sentenced to nine months in jail on Dec. 19, following an incident . . . where a 17 year old was shot in the eye with a pellet gun, resulting in the loss of an eye.

· Globe and Mail (Jan 17) A New Brunswick man has been sentenced to house arrest for pulling a gun during an incident of road rage.

Maybe this one says it best: "WASHINGTON (Reuters) - American states where more people own guns have higher murder rates, including murders of children, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health reported (Jan 11; NY Times)."

Could the fight against gun control really be about money? In their 2006 book The Global Gun Epidemic, Professors Wendy Cukier and Victor W. Sidel point out the US dominates not just the military weapons market but also the commercial weapons market, producing over 3 million weapons annually (p.72). Is it a coincidence the US National Rifle Association is the richest, “most powerful lobby in the world,” according to their awestruck kid brother, the Canadian Shooting Sports Association?

The Conservatives are the party of big business; they’re also the pro-gun party. Coincidence? What proportion of the party’s funding comes from pro-gun sources? Inquiring minds want to know.

Last fall, Mr. Day, beholden to the special interests of the gun lobby, kicked the police chiefs off the firearms program advisory committee, presumably for the crime of saying the registry works. He kicked those concerned with violence against women and children, public policy, and gun control off the committee too, but kept the collectors and vendors of semi-automatic weapons. Yes, good thinking, Mr. Minister. You're sure to get unbiased advice now.

1 comment:

Melva said...

Change in Canadian Politics.
I’m afraid your information is a bit outdated. There has been a shift recently that is interesting to note. The Conservatives are no longer the Party of Big business, the Liberals are. A quick check of who is making Political donations will, I think put your head in a spin. The Conservatives are now supported by the average Jo, the NDP are still the Party of Unions, and Lobby groups, and the majority of donations for the Liberals…..Big business. The decision to reduce single donations to $1000/person has severely damaged the Liberals coffers, again because their support is coming from a smaller number of donators. So if you hate big business…… You may want to take a closer look at who you put your vote behind.