News late tonight indicates that Paul Martin is set to promise a complete ban on handguns, in an effort to appeal to those concerned about shootings in places like Toronto.
I'm pro gun control, but I have to wonder what exactly this will acheive. It's already the case that not many people are allowed to have handguns. The Globe and Mail article suggests that target shooters would still be allowed to shoot, and as such the new proposal would probably affect very few people in urban areas.
This makes me think of two old cliches that have been worn out by gun people... "If you outlaw guns then only outlaws will have guns." And "Guns don't kill people; people kill people."
Neither of these lines dissuade me from supporting gun control, and as far as I'm concerned Paul Martin can go ahead and ban handguns if he is reelected. But I don't know if this is going to have any effect in the Jane-Finch neighbourhood in which Martin will be making his announcement tomorrow.
If the idea is that this ban would cut off the supply of guns to the gang members, I have serious doubts. I think it will always be easy enough for gang members to get guns in Canada so long as we share the world's longest undefended border with a nation of gun lovers. It seems that focus has to be on the people commiting the crimes. That can be in the form of prevention and intervention with boys, or it could take the form of stronger policing and imprisonment. We probably need both, and more of both. And the solution for that might just be more money from somewhere.
I agree with Calgary Grit that "The fact of the matter is, there is no reason for anyone to own a handgun that won't be covered by an exception to this law (ie. police officers and target shooters)." But considering the problem this legislation is meant to address, it looks like a cosmetic solution to me. Can anyone explain how it could work better than I'm imagining it?
UPDATE: More response to the full proposal here.