Today I woke up to yet another horrific story about a mass shooting. When I first heard the headline, I thought, “Not another one in Toronto”. We’ve had several in the past month or so, in food courts and block party BBQs. Our city is not used to it and a feeling of controversy and outrage as erupted in the past week.
As it turns out, last night’s shooting was in Denver, not Toronto. It was an extreme case of violence reminiscent of the Norway shootings last year and many others in between. They seem to be more and more common. When Columbine happened, we were stunned and it was the focus of North American attention and concern for a long time. Now when it happens, we’re outraged for a day or two, and then life goes on. We’ve been desensitized to urban massacres. The home grown terrorists that live next door are just part of the landscape now.
In Toronto the violence has been more gang related, with the massacres being the collateral damage from people who are too ignorant to even value the lives of the children who may get struck by their stray bullets. In Norway it was a madman with a political axe to grind. Last night’s shooting in Denver, at the opening of the new Batman movie, will probably turn out to be a lost, aimless, pathetic person looking for notoriety.
Among the various outcries, especially here in Canada, is a call for greater gun control, as if that could solve the problem. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not in favour of guns. If someone could snap their fingers and make all of them disappear, I would cheer. I don’t have anything against hunters either, but those aren’t the kinds of guns we’re talking about. The fact is, though, that if you outlaw guns in the city or the province all you would accomplish is that, besides the police, the only people with guns would be the criminals and the gang members. The guns that they possess are not legal, and I’d be surprised if many of them are stolen from licensed owners. They’re guns that have been deliberately smuggled in or made for illegal purposes. Legal possession of a handgun is already so strictly controlled that you have to be really determined to own one. I don’t believe that all the gun control that the government could possibly bring to bear would put much of a dent in this illegal gun supply. The police would still have to clean that up, just as they could do if draconian gun control were not imposed.
I don’t like guns but I don’t support gun control for two reasons. First, as said above, it makes people think that something important is being accomplished while leaving the real problem unsolved. Second, it puts everyone at the mercy of the people who have the illegal guns. If we had a disease epidemic, or an ice storm, or some other catastrophe that resulted in scarce resources, it is clear that the gangs and criminals would use their guns to take what they wanted, and I doubt that our law enforcement would be up to the task of stopping them. You see it in disaster scenarios all over the world. While it’s a drastic thing to say, in such a scenario I think I’d want to have my own weapon to use for protection. Even in my own community, I know who has guns, and I wouldn’t want to be at their mercy.
A sad reality, but a reality just the same.