News item: pleasure boats kill more Canadians than handguns
This month, there will undoubtedly be another Toronto-area death related to a handgun. The shooting will occur at night, probably in or around a nightclub or a house party. Generally, it’ll involve people or a neighbourhood (or both) that Metro Police are anxious about.
No one at the scene will likely tell police what happened, and it will be a surprise if the killer is conviected (although, to the credit of our police forces, 478 of 658 Canadian homicides in 2005 were solved).
The Premier of Ontario, Dalton McGuinty, will issue another press release, stating that a total ban on guns is the only answer. Toronto Mayor David Miller will make a similar point. They’ll both blame the Federal Conservative Government for not doing more, and point to the end of the long gun firearm registration legislation that the federal Liberal Party was so proud about, even if it cost $1 billion rather than the $2 million that Alan Rock originally promised. And, despite having many years of long gun registration, the night club shootings carried on, unabated.
The fact that Statistics Canada released figures in 2005 that showed 128 murders were committed with a handgun will used as proof that there’s a problem still to be solved. And if your family was affected by one of these tragic events, you’ll have every right to agree. The fact that 4 out of 5 persons accused of murder with a firearm didn’t have a licence (and 83% of recovered firearms weren’t registered) will not be mentioned by Messers McGuinty and Miller.
Get the guns off the streets, they’ll say. Even if the world’s largest gun fair, the U.S.A., is a 75 minute drive down the Q.E.W.
And then there are the boating deaths.
According to Lifesaving Society statistics in a weekend story, there were 147 boating deaths in Canada in 2000 (the most recent year for which national data are available). More people were killed by pleasure boats than handguns.
It appears that there is currently no particular licencing system for basic boat operation, at least not one that is at all effective. If the rumour mill is true, you can pass a test online, with the answers in front of you. And your pet fish can be the exam’s proctor.
Voila. You get a licence to drive a boat at 60+ miles/hour. At night. Through the rocks.
When I applied for a hunting licence in 1984, I took a multi evening course with a certified instructor. I then had to successfully challenge both a written and practical Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources hunter’s safety course at a Ministry office. And, although I made it through, the government offical conducting the practical portion of the exam made you feel as though he was hoping he could find a way to fail the three students in his section.
If you wanted to get a FAC licence at the time, your name went to the RCMP and you might get a visit from the local police force. Two friends needed to vouch for you, and they called your office to check things out.
When the federal government passed the new firearms act, all hunters needed to get a new FAC. That required a new series of applications, new sponsors, and a new exam. Mine was conducted by a retired military non-com. He has his CD, which meant he had spent more than 12 years in uniform. As a former servant of the Queen, he wasn’t interested in anything other than ensuring that only suitable people passed the exam. And he ran it in his home, while he sat in front of you. There would be no internet cheating if he was to sign the forms.
When you read that pleasure and fishing boat deaths exceed handgun deaths, and you consider the fact that 80% of the people involved with firearm murders have no lawful reason to possess a hunting rifle or a handgun…it gives one pause. It may not matter to politicians that a handgun ban could “only” reduce the number of handgun murders by 26 per annum (if lawful ownership was involved in just 20% of the 128 murders in 2005), you have to wonder how sincere they are in their concern for protecting the public when there are tens of thousands of people charging around in powerboats this holiday weekend…killing far more innocent people than all of the handguns — illegal or otherwise — in Canada.