Would a ban on guns save lives? Look at places where it did

July 27, 2018
Article Source
The Globe and Mail

From an opinion piece in the Globe and Mail: The sight of children being loaded into hearses tends to focus the public mind. And when young people have died of gunshot wounds, as a 10-year-old and an 18-year-old did on Sunday night on a Toronto street lined with restaurants, a lot of people find themselves sharing the thought uttered by the city's mayor, John Tory: "Why does anyone in this city need to have a gun at all?"

Leaders around the world have asked that question after kids have died in mass shootings, and many countries have responded by outlawing most civilian ownership of firearms.

The real question is: Would a ban work? Or would it be an empty political gesture that hassles legal gun owners instead of criminals and extremists?

The case in favour of a ban is that a lot of the weapons used by mass killers and terrorists are legal. Canada's most horrific firearms crimes have mostly been committed with legal weapons. The 2017 Quebec City mosque massacre was carried out with the shooter's legal rifle. So was the Moncton mass shooting of 2014 and so was Richard Bain's 2012 attempt to assassinate Quebec premier-designate Pauline Marois. The awful Dawson College, Concordia University and École Polytechnique massacres in Montreal were all committed with weapons purchased legally. The La Loche, Sask., school shootings in 2016 and the Edmonton gun massacre of 2014 involved legal firearms taken by the shooters from their neighbours.

It appears that the pistol used in the Toronto massacre made its way to the 29-year-old shooter by way of smuggling from the United States. But Toronto's police chief says half of the firearms used in criminal offences are legal Canadian weapons that have been sold by or stolen from their owners. A B.C. government study last year found that 60 per cent of the weapons used by criminals there were legally and domestically sourced.

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