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EDITORIAL: Handgun ban will be a test case

Pistols are now harder to come by in Canada, but will that impact crime?
A recent month-long initiative by the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit in the Okanagan led to the seizure of illicit drugs, weapons, firearms, and cash. (Black Press Media files)

Do fewer guns result in fewer shootings?

On one level, the answer is pretty easy to determine. The United States, with its right to bear arms, versus Canada, with its strict regulations, training, and permitting process for firearms possession, are far apart when it comes to gun deaths.

In 2019, Canada had 0.47 deaths from gun violence per 100,000 people. The United States had 3.96, more than eight times as many.

Whether gun control – and the related regulations around gun handling – makes a country safer is not in question. It definitely does.

But with the new Liberal handgun sales freeze coming into force, we’re about to enter a new era. Handguns have long been legal in Canada, albeit under strict conditions.

READ MORE: Government to use regulation to ban handgun imports in two weeks

Of course, the folks who ignore these rules have been killing one another across the Lower Mainland for years.

Gang conflicts in B.C. have claimed dozens of lives every year for well over a decade now, not to mention killing several innocent bystanders.

The question for a long time has been, would stricter gun laws here make a difference?

Where do the guns that get into the hands of gangsters come from?

Some may be legal guns that are stolen in break ins. Others come from “straw purchasers,” folks with clean records and gun permits who sell their handguns to criminals. And finally, of course, there are guns smuggled across the border from the pistol-happy United States.

We’re about to start an experiment in finding out how far gun regulation can go when we live next to one of the most heavily-armed nations in the world.

If the new rules work, maybe in combination with better border controls, we can expect to see the gun supply dry up for gangs. If not, we may have found the limits of effective gun control.

– Black Press Media

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