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    Monday, December 12, 2005

    The Handgun Conundrum

    Stardate 4999.0

    Handguns. They have created quite a stir of late, especially considering the Liberal proposal to ban them completely in Canada. Of course, this is only a single aspect of their proposal, but one that gun advocates tend to jump on perhaps as overzealously as those opposing the very existance of these weapons. Judging from the vast array of comments in my last post, I felt it is best to re-explore the entire situation, than simply add on another comment. With all of the particulars aside, simply put, I think the negatives greatly outweigh the positives. Most of the positives in fact, seem to be of the nature where they could lead to negatives very quickly, though the advocates for possession of these weapons would likely argue against that. Also, we must leave out the acquisition and possession of these weapons illegally for now, and perhaps conclude with those situations.

    The absolute biggest reason in my opinion, to own a handgun (legally) is for home defense and peace of mind. Now I suspect that most break-ins occur when a family is not home. If the family (or owner) is home, then I would also suspect that the person home is an elderly person that may or may not possess a handgun at any rate. Too often, these weapons could be used accidentally… when a teenager sneaks in late, or some such. We see it on television, but does it really happen in real life? What about the kids playing around when the parents aren’t home? I know guns are supposed to be locked up tight, but honestly, how many of us grown-ups knew how to get around our parent’s safeguards when we were younger? Kids will play, and even with strict teaching, they can easily forget in an instant and then accidents can easily happen. As shown here, the numbers suggest that accidental shootings involving children are nine times higher in the USA than in 25 other industrialized countries combined. Do we want these similar numbers in Canada? What about the average person, who is a mentally stable and honest upright citizen, who finds out his wife is sleeping with his neighbour? It is very difficult to judge how a person reacts in light of certain situations. With a handgun literally under the pillow, a stable person could easily become an unstable person, blinded by passions, and again, accidents (maybe even intentionally) can and will happen. If a person breaks into your home and you are away, a hidden handgun or gun case could easily be found and stolen, thus adding another weapon to the illegal side of these guns.

    Some people enjoy using these weapons for practice or even hunting. As pointed out by others however, using a handgun for hunting purposes is really not as effective as using a long gun or rifle. I suspect the numbers of people really wanting to do this are much fewer than even bow hunters and trappers. For target practice? Sure that would be interesting, though these are likely the same people who wish to have a handgun at home, for security purposes (or to shoot their wife when they are found cheating on them). I do not believe having the ability to target practice with these weapons justifies their legality at all.

    Yet others maintain that freedom is just that. Freedom. This is another attempt to control a population’s freedoms, and dictate what is right and wrong, good or bad, regardless of the reasons. Now don’t get me wrong, I am a staunch advocate of freedoms and the fewer rules we are forced to live by, the better as far as I am concerned. That being said, some things simply need to be regulated, controlled, or banned. We have speed limits set up based on various factors, including the volume of traffic, the actual road design specifications (most speed freaks don’t even think about this but I design roads, so I am rather intimate with it), weather conditions, road conditions, vehicle capabilities and general public safety. If we did not have limits, then it would be very difficult to design safe roads. Some people would drive so fast that they endanger other drivers. Some would drive so slow, that the same results would happen, though likely less horrific. This is an example of how rules and laws guide us, and yes, they infringe on our freedoms. You cannot drink more than a beer or two and legally drive. Another infringement on freedoms, but it is a damn good thing these rules are there. Society is no longer responsible enough in many aspects to make some decisions on their own, as evidenced by the increasing number of speed related incidents and deaths every year, even though we still have strict guidelines on limits. This could easily be the same situation with handguns, and likely is.

    To me, handguns are designed for one purpose. Shooting people. Now, I didn’t say murder. They would most definitely not be allowed to be produced if this was the case. However, as more and more of them are produced, the chances of them being obtained illegally greatly increase. We can’t simply ban their production, because they are an integral part of the modern police force and military. Only allowing their production for these purposes would never work, as we are well aware that many and most arms can be sold under the guise of military sales but then there is no control over the weapons once they are sold.

    So maybe an outright ban on these weapons isn’t a perfect solution. However, it is a guideline that can be put in place to help society limit the number of incidents involving these weapons in homes, as well as limiting to a smaller extent, the accessibility of them to criminal elements. A much more effective method of dealing with the criminal aspect is to increase and enforce mandatory jail times for illegal possession and use of these weapons. To me, this aspect is a much wiser step though it involves keeping the justice department on track. No early parole and no exceptions. You get busted with a handgun, it is off to the hooscow with you. If you use it in a crime of any sort, well you should expect to stay there for an extended period of time!

    So if one child is saved, and one person cannot go to the range on a Sunday afternoon, is it worth it?

    All opinions shared on this site are strictly my own. Some people may disagree and that is fine, but rude comments or overzealous debate will be curtailed. I enjoy civil discourse, and encourage independent thought. I oppose George W. Bush and his Wars based on lies.

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