I don’t know if a gun or bullet ban would actually work in reducing gun crime in Toronto.
But there’s been a lot of ban talk around these parts lately. Last week it was plastic bags. This week, Councillor Adam Vaughan floated the notion of banning handguns and bullets in the city in the wake of a shooting in the food court of the Eaton Centre on June 2nd.
Turns out, lots of people don’t care for bans of any sort. What gives society the right to tell me what and what I can or cannot do with plastic bags, guns, bullets, pesticides or… [fill in the blank here]? Also, it turns out in terms of firearms, there’s a surprising number of Torontonians who believe we are living in the United States of America and they have some sort of constitutional right to bear arms.
But that’s for another time.
What perplexes me about the gun ban discussion is the preponderance of those opposed to the idea relying on the argument that criminals aren’t going to care about no stinkin’ ban. They’ll get their greasy hands on any sort of weaponry they want. It’s only law abiding gun owners who’ll have to give up their hobby.
The long gun registry redux.
If this is your case against a ban, couldn’t we extend it to any law a society makes?
There’s always going to be somebody who’s going to figure out some way around every law. Why institute an income tax? Criminals don’t pay income taxes. We threaten to fine people caught throwing litter on the streets but some people don’t give a hoot and they still pollute anyway. Why bother saying they can’t?
Without transgression, there’d be no need for laws. Apparently however, we’ve always had malcontents and ne’er-do-wells amongst us, at least since biblical times. Thus, the 10 Commandments. I imagine when Moses came down from the mountain with his tablets of rules and regulations and bans, Old Testament libertarians out there were simply indignant. “Who the fuck is this god guy telling us who we can and cannot covet?”
The other line of reasoning in arguing against the ban points out the futility of our drug prohibition. Like America’s alcohol ban nearly a century ago, our war on drugs has been a categorical failure. Drugs are easily accessible to those wanting them and criminal activity blossoms from those fighting to supply the demand.
So it follows, a gun pay wouldn’t get rid of guns because, a ban is a ban is a ban.
I’ve been trying to work through this particular argument. On the surface it’s a compelling one. Until you realize it’s really an n of 1. In the case of drugs, yes, I think the evidence shows that the prohibition not only doesn’t work but it’s been counter-productive. It’s increased crime rather than decreased it.
Contemplating a ban on handguns or bullets is much more analogous, however, to the ban on plastic bags than the one on drugs. You have legit gun owners claiming they have a right to own a firearm or two. Plastic bag fans claim they too have a right to shop using plastic bags and if they are denied that right, they will take their money to nearby, more plastic bag friendly jurisdictions. An argument echoed by gunsters. They will just go elsewhere for their firearms. Hell, they already are.
Yet, where plastic bags have been banned, there’s been a decrease in plastic bag use. “China ban saves 40 million plastic bags”. What makes guns so different?
Of course, a ban won’t eliminate guns from within our city limits. I don’t think anyone’s argued that it would. But I have trouble with the idea that it won’t reduce the number of firearms in the city even if it’s mostly from the possession of those legal gun owners. And to my mind, that’s not a bad thing because if there’s one aspect of this debate that is beyond dispute is that the presence of more firearms equals more death and injury by firearms. Don’t believe me? Take it up with the Harvard School of Public Health.
Laws shouldn’t be made (or not) on the basis of criminals not adhering to them. We should apply a basic cost-benefit analysis. What’s the cost to society as a whole to handing out plastic bags versus the benefits to us of the bags? Ditto gun ownership. What cost does gun ownership have on society versus the individual benefits of… target shooting.
Let’s have that discussion instead of the heated but empty one that’s happening now.
— bandaidly submitted by Cityslikr