Dead is dead, and safe is safe: Liberals' registry is
targeting the least dangerous guns in the country
Sunday 10 February 2002
You'd never know it from reading my stuff, but I was once a member of the
University of Alberta's writing skills committee.
Among our tasks was reviewing freshman essays. One I'll never forget
advocated strict gun control, and contained the memorable non sequitur "Gun
control is needed more in the 20th Century than in previous centuries, because
being killed with a bullet is more fatal than being killed by a sword."
Hey, dead is dead. Medically, one kind of "killed" is no "more fatal" than
the others. But I've often wondered if that freshman graduated and went on to a
stellar career designing Canada's firearms regulations. Certainly the illogical
obsession with the evils of guns was already present some 20 years ago.
Last Sunday I wrote how the Liberals' gun control will be useless at
preventing robberies. Firearms are only the third most common weapon used in
robberies, well back of both fists and knives, and tied with clubs and blunt
instruments. Moreover, nearly 90 per cent of the firearms used in robberies are
already illegal or should have been registered even before the new firearms law.
Handguns, for instance, account for 82 per cent of firearms robberies, even
though handguns have been subject to compulsory registration since the
Depression. Robbers now smuggle them instead.
This week, even more firearms-robbery statistics came available, thanks to
the determined digging of Saskatchewan Alliance MP Garry Breitkreuz and
researchers at the Library of Parliament.
As with last week's figures, this week's lead to pretty much the same
conclusion: Legal guns aren't the biggest problem in crime. Therefore, all the
gun control in the world isn't going to have much impact on crime.
In 2000, 800 victims of robbery suffered major injuries from their attackers.
Only nine per cent of those (about 70 people) suffered major injuries from
firearms, and nearly all of those injuries were inflicted with handguns, which,
as I pointed out before, are already supposed to be registered.
Fists -- technically "physical force" -- accounted for the largest percentage
of major injuries (31 per cent), clubs and blunt instruments 18 per cent and
knives 18 per cent.
And just as dead is dead, a major injury is a major injury. StatsCan makes no
distinction between one caused by a gun and one inflicted by a boot or
So it's no use to counter that a gunshot wound is more serious than a stab
wound; there is an empirical definition of "major," and only wounds that exceed
that threshold count, regardless of which kind of weapon inflicted them.
So fists and feet and clubs and knives all injure more Canadians seriously
each year than guns.
But are guns still more dangerous?
Guns are used in fewer robberies, so while their percentage of
inflicted-injuries is smaller, perhaps in the robberies in which they are used,
they are used more often to wound.
Not so. To begin with, the chance of receiving any injury -- major, minor or
indeterminate --if your assailant robs you with rifle or shotgun is so small
StatsCan doesn't even register it.
Of course, it's rifles and shotguns the Liberals are currently trying madly
to register. Futile, futile, futile.
If a robber uses a sawed-off rifle or shotgun (already an entirely illegal
class of gun), you stand a one-in-four chance of suffering an indeterminate
injury, but again a statistically insignificant chance of a major or minor one.
If a handgun is used, the victim has a one-in-three chance of being injured.
But with a knife, the ratio is one in two. With a club or a fist, the chances
are high --four in five -- you'll end up hurt in some way.
The chance of receiving a major injury in a robbery is just about the same no
matter what weapon (except one) is used.
A knife gives a one-in-11 chance, a handgun a one-in-12 chance and physical
force about one in 15.
The exception is a club, bat or other blunt instrument. If you are attacked
by a club-wielding robber, you're more likely to get hurt than not. You run a
one-in-four chance of suffering a major injury, too.
Put another way, if you're robbed by a guy with a club, there's a 25-per-cent
chance he's going to hurt you badly. If he has a knife there's a nine-per-cent
chance; a handgun, an eight-per-cent chance and his fist, a five-per-cent
If he has a hunting gun there is virtually no chance you'll be hurt badly, or
But instead of cleaning our streets of baseball bats, hidden knives and
smuggled handguns (or better yet, of the criminals who use them), the Liberals
are pouring $12 million a month, or more, into their registry of the least
dangerous guns in the country. And you won't be one jot safer for it.
Columnist, The Edmonton Journal
Editorial Board Member, The National Post
Tele: (780) 916-0719
Fax: (780) 481-4735
Back to That
Posted 2000 09 21
2002 02 26 (added comments and graphs for US heart disease death
rates and for relative death rates for men, and links to Oprah Winfrey's website)
2002 05 05 (added link to life-saver)