Gun Control


Part I:Introduction

The issue of gun control and violence, both in Canada and the United States,
is one that simply will not go away. If history is to be any guide, no matter
what the resolution to the gun control debate is, it is probable that the
arguments pro and con will be much the same as they always have been. In 1977,
legislation was passed by the Canadian Parliament regulating long guns for the
first time, restructuring the availability of firearms, and increasing a variety
of penalties . Canadian firearms law is primarily federal, and "therfore
national in scope, while the bulk of the firearms regulation in the United
States is at the state level; attempts to introduce stricter leglislation at the
federal level are often defeated".
The importance of this issue is that not all North Americans are necessarily
supportive of strict gun control as being a feasible alternative to controlling
urban violence. There are concerns with the opponents of gun control, that the
professional criminal who wants a gun can obtain one, and leaves the average
law-abiding citizen helpless in defending themselves against the perils of urban
life . Is it our right to bear arms as North Americans ? Or is it privilege? And
what are the benefits of having strict gun control laws? Through the analysis of
the writings and reports of academics and experts of gun control and urban
violence, it will be possible to examine the issues and theories of the social
impact of this issue.

Part II: Review of the Literature A) Summary

In a paper which looked at gun control and firearms violence in North America,
Robert J. Mundt, of the University of North Carolina, points out that "Crime in
America is popularly perceived [in Canada] as something to be expected in a
society which has less respect for the rule of law than does Canadian
society..."
In 1977, the Canadian government took the initiative to legislate stricter gun
control. Among the provisions legislated by the Canadian government was a
"Firearms Acquisition Certificate" for the purchase of any firearm, and
strengthened the "registration requirements for handguns and other restricted
weapons..." .
The purpose of the 1977 leglislation was to reduce the availability of
firearms, on the assumption that there is a "positive relationship between
availability and use". In Robert J. Mundt\'s study, when compared with the United
States, trends in Canada over the past ten years in various types of violent
crime, suicide, and accidental death show no dramatic results, "and few
suggestions of perceptible effects of the 1977 Canadian gun control legislation".
The only positive effect, Mundt, found in the study was the decrease in the use
of firearms in robbery with comparion to trends in the United States .
Informed law enforcement officers in Canada, as in the United States, view the
"impact of restricting the availability of firearms is more likely to impact on
those violent incidents that would not have happened had a weapon been at
hand"(152).
In an article by Gary A. Mauser of the Simon Fraser University in British
Columbia, he places special emphasis on the attitudes towards firearms displayed
by both Canadians and Americans. According to Mauser, large majorities of the
general public in both countries "support gun control legislation while
simultaneously believing that they have the right to own firearms" (Mauser
1990:573). Despite the similarities, there are apparent differences between the
general publics in the two countries. As Mauser states that "Canadians are more
deferent to authority and do not support the use of handguns in self defence to
the same extent as Americans".
As Mauser points out that "it has been argued that cultural differences
account for why Canada has stricter gun control legislation than the United
States"(575). Surprisingly enough, nationwide surveys in both Canada and the
United States "show remarkable similarity in the public attitude towards
firearms and gun control"(586). Both Canada and the United States were
originally English colonies, and both have historically had similar patterns of
immigration. Moreover, Canadians are exposed to American television (both
entertainment and news programming) and, Canadians and Americans read many of
the same books and magazines. As a result of this, the Canadian public has
adopted "much of the American culture" .

In an article by Catherine F. Sproule and Deborah J. Kennett of Trent
University, they looked at the use of firearms in Canadian homicides between the
years of 1972-1982. There findings firmly support the conclusion that gun
control is beneficial. According to Sproule and Kennett, gun control "may be
influencing some suspects to kill by other