Re Look out! long hair gun loon!

Wayne Hayes (
Sun, 21 Dec 1997 12:49:39 -0500

This article contains replies to Dana Kissick, Michael Lorrey, Geoff Smith,
and Damien Sullivan.

Dana Kissick <> writes:
>Please explain to me how you come up with the figures of 80-95% of
>homicides thru the use of firearms when the year with the highest figure
>(1974) was only 71.3%.

Hmm, you're right. I was looking at the "other" column, which fluctuates
between about 7% an 15%, and subtracting that from 100. The problem
is that the percentages quoted don't seem to add up to 100. Something
is not being counted, and I don't know what it is. But you're right
that if you add up the columns "handguns" and "firearms", the numbers
are closer to 50-70% of murders being committed using guns.

>[stuff about defending himself and his family from criminals]

As I've said, those may be valid reasons for wanting to own a gun. And,
if I lived in certain parts of the US, I might be more prone to own a gun,
too. This leads nicely to... (Damien R. Sullivan) writes:
>[Americans] kill each other more often period, regardless of weapon.

True. I wonder why. (I'm not being sarcastic.)

>There are other differences between the US and the other
>industrialized nations. Size, long term racial problems, possibly how
>we've treated our cities.

Possibly. Another possibility:

Michael Lorrey <> writes:
>Another big factor I can't identify in words, but it is definitely
>related to the Canadian psyche and is possibly the same reason why
>during the American Revolution, the Canadians did not join in the

True. As a friend of mine puts it, "Canada *exists* primarily for
the purpose of not being the United States." Before the American
Revolution, Canada was just as much a French colony as a British
one. Then the "United Empire Loyalists" fled north to Canada during
and after the American Revolution, and from that point on, they (we?)
were the majority, and have loved to define Canada as "not American"
ever since. One of Canada's most proud differences from the US is
our lower rate of violence. Many people think this is *because* we
don't have easy access to guns. I don't think it's that simple, but
it's probably a factor. I think a larger factor is simply our culture,
which *tries* to be less violent than the US simply because it's one
of the most obvious ways we can differentiate ourselves from the US.
Which leads me to...

Geoff Smith <> writes:
>I think the best explanation for the violence of the
>US compared to Canada is culture. Americans began their country by
>fighting, Canadians just waited it out until we were *given* independence.
>Which was the better strategy? Who cares, but the point is that this is a
>reflection of cultural differences (which I think are slowly blurring)
>One important motivator for Canadians to avoid violence is that many
>Canadians pride themselves on being as un-American as they can, and most
>Canadians see Americans as violent (just look at all the movies that come
>out of Hollywood!) Hopefully, the Canadian tendency towards nonviolent
>solutions will rub off on the US, and the US tendency to prize individual
>liberty will rub off on Canada

It would be nice, but unforunately the exact opposite is happening.
Canada is becoming more violent, while the US is becoming less free.
In Toronto, for example, overall crime rates have dropped slightly
in the past few years, but *violent* crime has gone up. I'm not
sure why. Perhaps the violent culture of our Big Brother to the
south is finally rubbing off on us.

Geoff also writes:
>On Sat, 20 Dec 1997, Michael Lorrey wrote:
>> the main reason Canada is so peaceful is [...] because it is
>> so ethnically homogenous.

>I think your concept of an ethnically homogenous Canada either comes from
>only seeing certain parts of Canada, or from the lack of African-Canadians.

I agree wholeheartedly. Parts of Canada are indeed very homogeneous;
other parts are extremely multicultural. Like Vancouver, Toronto has
a huge asian population. Also plenty of Indians (not the North-American
type), Italians, Portugese, Greeks... the list goes on. One of the
best benefits of this is the diversity of food. :-) I love the fact
that, within walking distance of my office, there is genuinely good
food from all over the world. And like Vancouver, many departments
on the U of Toronto campus have huge numbers of asians; in my own
department (computer science), I believe asians number at least as
many as people of European descent.

Michael Lorrey <> writes:
>It is interesting that you said absolutely nothing about the Washington
>DC Murder rates.

"Never ascribe to malice what can adequately explained by ignorance."
I didn't mention them because I didn't have them handy, and I'm not
familiar with them in any case. I don't claim to be an expert on
gun use in any part of the world.

>Studies of gun crime in the US show that gun crime rates are highest in
>areas that have the most restrictive gun control laws.

Another interesting data point indicating that the US is generally
more violent than other first-world nations, since most other countries
have more restrictive gun control laws than *anywhere* in the US, yet
gun crime rates are *not* higher than in the US. I'm not flinging
mud here, I'm just emphasizing again that the extra freedoms that
you have come at a cost of a more violent culture.

>Now, on the overall murder rates being higher, I won't debate, its
>obvious that a free society like ours will tend to grant its citizens
>the liberty to be able to commit the sort of crimes involved, while
>societies like those in europe, descended from fuedal systems in which
>only the aristocracy had a right to bear arms, are obviously not free,

Huh? Why are they obviously not free? And to what extend freedom? We
are free to travel as we please, within and between countries; we vote
for our leaders, just as you do; we have (as a practical matter)
freedom of speech, religion, association, and the press, just as the US
is supposed to have. (Of course there are problems, but legally and
in practice we have similar rights.) I don't know about the European
countries, but Canada has a Charter of Rights and Freedoms as part of
our Constitution (contrary to what somebody said a few days back).
Certainly there are minor differences of degree and kind in the details,
but I would hardly call Canada or any of the western European countries
"obviously not free".

>[obviously not free,]
>in that the government protects the citizens from themselves.

It seems that your definition of "free" lies solely in the right to
bear arms. I believe this is an extremely narrow view. Are the
other freedoms I mention above worth nothing?

Don't get me wrong. I don't believe, a priori, that gun ownership is
bad. As I've said, I've been on a rifle team where strict safety
procedures were taught. People on this list (including yourself)
have complained how gun owners are often portrayed as madmen. Would
you complain if, for example, the *only* law that stood between you
and a gun was a requirement to take a safety course? Would that
be an opprossive law leading to a state that is "obviously not free"?

[I'm trying to figure out if we're talking at cross-pursposes here,
or if we really do have a fundamental disagreement about what constitutes