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Archive for October, 2012

I shot a handgun for the first time in my life earlier this month.

I was visiting some friends in America for one of their birthdays, and as one of the weekend’s activities we headed over to the Washington State Shooting Range just south of Bellingham.

I’m going to pause now to reflect upon the fact that the State of Washington (motto: We are a State, not a District of Columbia) has a public shooting range. Alright.

I do not hesitate to say that I had a blast. Propelling small chunks of metal across the room with only the squeeze of a finger was exhilarating, and incredibly easy. The experience was made all the more exciting for me because the book I was reading was about to reveal to me the chemical reasons why the gunpowder explosion inside the gun was able to propel bullets target-ward at life-ending speeds.

For all the fun I had, my pre-existing support of strict gun control was hardened by this experience. Sure, firing a Glock into a paper target was fun, and I don’t deny that I’m going to make it happen again at some point in the future, but the sheer ease of use of the weapon (a weapon the helpful and cheerful staff at the gun range described as ‘a small cannon’) confirms my belief that these should not be made available for common distribution.

I am not against people having long guns for sport. I believe that regulating the ownership and use of these weapons is important, and I am disappointed to see the long gun registry meet an untimely end, especially with statistics like “88% of women killed by guns in Canada are killed by long guns”. That battle, however, appears to be lost for the moment.

Handguns are a different story. They are small, relatively easy to hide, and easy to use. Easy enough to fire, in fact, that my concern is not so much that a murderer will use it to kill someone (people who are intent on murdering someone will probably find a way to either get a handgun or invent some other way), but that some person, using it in self defence or some equally noble purpose, will squeeze the trigger a tad too soon, too late, or with insufficient aim, and hit and kill a bystander. It is not an irrational fear – every day in the United States, five children are injured or killed by accidental fire. It seems to me that the more handguns we have in Canada, the more accidents we invite.

I bring this up for a number of reasons. Barack Obama was asked about gun control in last night’s debate, and he gave a rather pathetic answer that was along the lines of “we need to enforce the laws we already have”, leaving aside the plethora of laws that have weakened gun control during his first term.

The other impetus for posting was a group of images I saw on the Sociological Images blog I read regularly. These images use pro-woman, pro-gay and anti-racist rhetoric to promote gun ownership among women, gays, and minorities. I don’t really know what to think of these ads, aside from the fact that I found them very strange. I’ve never felt physically threatened by someone who was harassing me because I am gay, so I can’t say how I would react, or whether I would appreciate having a gun. My inclination is that I wouldn’t, but, as I say, I haven’t been there.

What do you think of these images? Would you appreciate having a gun to defend yourself? Do you think Canada’s gun laws are too strict, or not strict enough?

Afterthoughts:

  • The motto of the State of Washington is actually Alki, a Chinook Wawa word for ‘eventually’. Splendor sine occasu it ain’t.
  • I know I haven’t been posting nearly as often as I should. It’s been nearly half a year. For that I apologize. I’m not going to promise anything, but I’m going to try and get something up more often.
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