Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Tough on Crime, Easy on Guns

In response to the worst mass shooting in American history, at Virginia Tech, the Governor of Virginia has made it clear he will not let this tragedy to be used to bring in gun control. This fine and peaceful school campus was the last place anyone would expect this to happen. But that school is in Virginia where guns come next to God. In Virginia they do have gun control allowing an individual to purchase only one gun per month which amounts to twelve guns a year. Obviously they do not look at the mental state of the purchaser first and it is simply big profitable business to sell firearms in Virginia. In this horrible deadly incident the shooter only had two guns which was certainly enough to kill 32 innocent people and injure many more. Just last year, the then Republican controlled US Congress, allowed a major restriction on possession of long guns and other powerful weapons to expire, obviously in response to pressure from the National Rifle Association and other advocates of the constitutional "right to bear arms".
Here in Canada, over Easter, the Federal Government, through an administrative enactment, delayed by a year the need to register certain firearms with the gun registry. This too played into the hands of gun owners and others sharing the views of the NRA and the Governor of Virginia. Meanwhile the same government that is keeping gun ownership and possession easy and making it harder for the police to trace guns used in crimes is pressing legislation that is supposed to be tough on crime. They are putting forward mandatory minimum sentences and general reduction of the civil rights of people of people accused of crimes. They obviously think the deterrent effect of long sentences is the best form of prevention. It would be better for them to put their energy into preventing mentally ill and dangerous individuals from getting weapons. Those mad enough to go on killing sprees are not concerned with how long they may go to jail or even whether they live or die. Real criminals are not deterred by the threat of longer sentences as they do not plan to get caught. Now that we see again how much harm can be caused by guns I hope that this will be a lesson learned which encourages control and stricter regulation of firearms.

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