Guns & Criminals

I'm (now) mostly in favor of gun control. One thing that I disagree strongly with, however, is the baseless propaganda that pro-gun-control organizations spout. There is just way too much irrelevant half-truths to it. For example, there is some common factoid that says that if you own a gun, it is 43 times more likely to "kill someone you know" than to kill someone in self defence. There are two things that this factoid fails to mention. First, 80% of all gun-related deaths are suicides. Thus, in the majority of cases, the "someone you know" isn't your little kid stumbling across your gun and shooting himself, it's you ending your life intentionally. Second, this factoid is based on a single study that was carried out in one county in the USA and in almost all of the remaining 20% of cases, the "someone you know" was a rival gang member, a drug dealer, or an abusive spouse. Quite bluntly, killing such people seems more like a public service to me than a crime.

Still, there's a fly in the ointment. In Canada, most violent crimes are non-fatal and are carried out with a knife or bare fists or whatnot instead of a gun. Presumably there aren't more shootings because of the low availability of handguns, whereas America has a combination of easily available handguns and street gangs. There's no real street-gang problem in Canada.

IMHO, the cause of most of society's ills is that there are too many 'bad guys' out free. Our methods of dealing with such people are utterly ineffective. It's just so cynically gratifying to see the same people committing the same crimes over and over again and being given a slap on the wrist and being set loose time after time. I mean it's not like we don't know who these people are or what they have done; these people's criminal histories are extremely well documented.

Two things are needed. First, a person with a significant criminal history can't have the same rights as the rest of us. Laws for privacy, individual rights, etc. are intended to be applied to reasonable people and they limit the effectiveness of the law far too much when they cover criminals too. Second, violent and career criminals need to be permanently removed from society. While I certainly don't oppose capital punishment, it's probably not practical to implement in a westernized country. America's capital-punishment system is anything but practical. What we need is a city in a very remote location that operates like a minimum-security prison that can be used as a dumping ground for criminals. Maybe on one of those high-arctic islands of Canada.

-- Craig S. Bruce, Ph.D.