Sunday, July 22, 2012

Some Musings on the Recent Spate of Gun Crimes

By now just about everyone has heard about the tragedy in Colorado, where an armed man opened fire in a movie theatre killing 12 and wounding 58 more. 

You may have heard about the men in Barrie, living in a house that was filled with bombs and booby traps as well as 29 firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition.

And then there is the recent spate of shootings in Toronto.  Four deaths and over 20 wounded as a result of these shootings.

What is going on?  What can be done to stop the insanity?

Mayor Ford of Toronto wants to kick the bad guys out of Toronto.  Nice plan, well thought out.  Just in case you missed it… that was sarcasm.

Minister Kenny Tweeted that the Harper Party is on top of this, they want to throw the bad guys out of the country.  Branding them “foreign gangsters” and extolling the Harper plan to toss undesirables out of the country when they commit a crime.

Shall we start with 75 years old William Feldhoff?  He’s the fellow that owns the house in Barrie where they found the bombs, booby traps and weapons.  I don’t know about his son Donald, who confessed to the 30 year old murder.  He was probably born here, so I guess we’d be stuck with him.

I’ve avoided mentioning the Colorado case, because unlike the other two, his firearms were legally purchased.  Before he entered the theatre and started shooting, James Holmes was likely not a criminal.  He was able to buy 4 guns in two months, so I’m willing to guess there was some kind of background check to ensure he didn’t have a criminal history.

If this article seems a bit disjointed, it is because I am a bit disjointed today.

We have criminals with guns running loose in Toronto but if the truth be told, there are many cities in the USA who would love to have the same gun crime stats as Toronto.

The Harper Party thinks that threats of deportation or longer sentences in prison will deter them.  I beg to differ.  If 25 years is not enough to make you put your gun away, 125 years isn’t going to do it either.  Here is a newsflash for the Harperites and their echo boxes… No one who commits a crime, any crime from stealing a pack of gum to gunning down a rival gang member to whatever the worst you can think of is, does it thinking I’m going to get caught. 

Laws only stop the good people from doing bad things.

Case in point, it is illegal to belong to a criminal gang in Canada.  Has gang violence dropped?  Are there fewer gang members now?  Since the police want more power to deal with gangs, I’ll assume that it has not.

In Barrie, we have a fellow who murdered someone 30 years ago and his father who helped him avoid arrest.  It doesn’t seem that they did anything to draw attention to themselves for all this time, but when the son confessed and the police investigated they found a stockpile of weapons at the father’s home.

We have laws about this.  They didn’t help much did they?

And that brings us to the Colorado shootings.

They like to tell us that if you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have them.  James Holmes was not an outlaw.  His guns, his ammunition, his high capacity magazines were all legally purchased.  He wasn’t a criminal until he opened the fire exit at the theatre and then he was only sneaking into a movie…

So what is the common thread?  I don’t know.  I don’t think there is one.

Dead end youths in gangs, a father who protected his son from the police while creating a terrifying arsenal of weapons, a former University student who bought some guns and snuck into a movie.

I’m going to guess, we have some broken people out there. 

There is no easy solution, if there was one, we’d be using it right now.

It seems to me, that these people have been pushed or otherwise found themselves to be outside of the mainstream.  Maybe we need to find a way to get them back into “normal” society.  Better yet, include them into “normal” society before they get left out.

Will that cure all evil?  I doubt that very much.  But if the only people who seem to be succeeding in your neighbourhood are gangsters then what are your options for success? 

Maybe we could guarantee a decent living wage for everyone who works.  And making sure there are jobs available for those who want them.

I’ve touched on this before.  If I have nothing to lose by committing a crime, there is no deterrent.  If I am making a living at my job and doing okay, maybe I won’t commit a crime and risk losing all that I have earned.

Being a wage earner needs to be a respectable title again.

How be we give everyone who has the marks the ability to go to college or university?  Free tuition for those who make the grades.

Let’s remove qualifier #1.  If you have the grades, if you can get accepted to the university you should be able to go.

That might help at risk youth to stick to their books. 

We need to be able to better identify and help people with mental health issues.  Maybe this would have helped in Barrie, it might have helped in Colorado.

And we need to have our friends to the south look seriously at their gun laws.  I don’t expect them to register everything or change gun ownership from a right to a privilege.  I’m not dictating to the USA here, I’m just asking for some thought is all. There cannot be a good reason for anyone to be able to have large capacity magazines for their weapons.

If you’ve read my previous items, you’ll know I am pro-registry.  No apologies there.  But if anyone can point out a better method of making sure that legal firearms stay legal I’m open to suggestions.  While I’m at it, maybe someone can explain why you need to have a permit to buy a weapon in Canada, you need to have a permit to purchase ammunition, but you can walk around with live ammunition in your pocket no problem.  Wouldn’t it be sensible to need your permit to carry ammunition?

Look, I don’t have all the answers.  If I did, I’d be King… or at least a Senator... a real one… not one of those Harper 8 year ones…

But it is painfully obvious, if we keep going the direction we’re going it is going to get worse.

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