Paul Martin has introduced a new gun control initiative. I can't say I'm terribly impressed with the proposal, really.
While I don't have any belief that anyone in urban Canada has a need for guns, be they handguns or other forms of firearms, I just don't see this initiative itself having the desired effect. The existing gun registry strikes me as more than adequate to the task of tracking and being aware of the legitimately held weapons in Canada. The majority of guns used in crime are acquired through illegal channels in the first place - whether that is theft, smuggling or whatever. An outright ban on handguns seems rather pointless.
In a similar vein, I would support stronger penalties for those that use guns in the commission of any crime - but I am not fool enough to believe that such changes to the criminal code will do anything to address the problems that have been so visible in Toronto this past year. The penalties of law are seldom good deterrents for those who have nothing else to lose.
If our politicians want to address these problems, they must do so on multiple fronts concurrently:
1. Do what we can to stem the flow of illegal firearms into the country at the border.
2. Enforce the laws against gang violence already in place more aggressively.
3. Address the social and economic betrayals of the poor that make the economics of gang life work.
Sadly, Martin has fallen into the trap of the simplest, easiest to sell solution - ban handguns - a mere bandaid over a festering wound of social ills. Honest government knows that it cannot stamp out crime entirely, but it can do a great deal to address the causes.
Meanwhile, SES Research's night-by-night polling (crack for politics junkies) shows the liberals opening a pre-christmas lead in the polls. Support for the Conservative party is remaining flat at 28%.