Listen Up! The time has come, in fact is well overdue, to get serious about gun control

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Hugh Mackenzie
Huntsville Doppler

The Stockholm Syndrome

I was thinking of Patty Hearst this past week. Many will not remember her, but I do. Patty Hearst is the grand daughter of William Randolph Hearst, a wealthy 19th Century media mogul and philanthropist. In 1974, at the age of 19, she was kidnapped by a left-wing terrorist group known as the Symbionese Liberation Army. A few months later, she was part of the gang, taking part with them in robbery and extortion and who knows what else. There is a famous picture of her holding a rifle during a bank robbery.

Hearst was captured and jailed for 35 years but served less than two and was eventually pardoned, because it was believed that she suffered from a condition known as the Stockholm Syndrome. Loosely speaking, this results in trust or affection being transferred to perpetrators, by a victim who has been captured or harmed. They become immune to their captors, sometimes joining them and sometimes just not caring about the harm they are doing.

So, why am I thinking of Patty Hearst now? It is because I am beginning to wonder if, in this day and age, many, if not most of us, are suffering from some form of the Stockholm Syndrome, when is comes to gun violence in the United States and yes, in Canada as well.

In this past week alone, 32 people were massacred in Dayton Ohio and El Paso Texas. Scores more were injured in both places. It took only 32 seconds to kill the nine people in Dayton. In Toronto, over the August long-weekend, there were 14 separate shooting incidents in which 17 people were injured. In the recent past, in Canada, we have lived through a number of mass shootings, in Atlantic Canada, on Parliament Hill and just last year on the Danforth in Toronto.

Yet, we just don’t seem to get it. Have we become immune to all of this? Are we effectively participants in what is going on beneath our noses, because we refuse to do anything about it? Do we simply not care any more? Surely the time has come, in fact is well overdue, to get serious about gun control.

In the United States, it’s all about the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms. It doesn’t seem to matter that when it was enacted, there were no weapons more serious than a musket ball and the actual purpose of the legislation was to protect the States against an aggressive Federal Government. There was no intent to have people walking the streets armed like cowboys, especially with weapons of mass destruction.

But the gun lobby in the United States, controlled by the National Rifle Association (NRA) is far too powerful. They oppose almost all legislation related to gun control.  They intimidate politicians and lawmakers through threats and huge financial support. They have a stranglehold on Congress and the White House where, in spite of the obvious crisis, politicians are too cowardly and too pistol-whipped, to stand up to them.

In Canada, the situation is somewhat different, but still dangerous. It is more difficult to obtain  firearms for illegal purposes, but it is still possible. Handguns are still legal here, but with very few exceptions, they should be banned or at least, much more strictly controlled than they currently are. One need only look at Toronto in the last ten days, to figure that out.

To be clear, I am not advocating a total ban on firearms, especially hunting rifles. At this point, as my friend Sally would say, I should come clean, and declare that I once owned part of a gun company that manufactured 22 calibre rifles. Most hunters are very cautious with their firearms. They are usually well trained in safety measures and they know how, when and where to use their weapons Most of them are also conservationists. Legitimate hunters are not the problem.

However, there is simply no excuse for weapons of mass destruction such as assault rifles, to be in the hands of anyone other than trained military and security personnel. There is no reason why everyone who purchases a weapon should not have it registered. I have to register my car. Why shouldn’t I have to register my rifle? As well, anyone, who wants a weapon, should be required to undergo a background check, to be sure there in no known reason that they should not be allowed anywhere near a gun. Finally, anyone who shares their weapon with another, should be jailed.

Those who advocate for little or no gun control, are quick to point out that guns don’t kill. People kill, they say. Technically they are right of course, because someone has to pull the trigger. What one needs to remember however, is that we are increasingly in a world of division and hate and we know that hate speech both in the United States and in Canada, invokes violence. When guns are readily available, it is much easier to kill.

I am reminded of a speech made a few weeks ago on Canada Day, by our Federal Minister of Immigration Ahmed Hussen, who suggested that Liberal opponents are racist Islamophobes who dance with White Supremacists. Surely, anyone on all sides of the political spectrum, can view that as nothing less than hate-speech. What an example for a Minister of the Crown to set!

This, however, appears to be the world we live in, and as long as we do, we can only expect the extraordinary events of violence and atrocities we see today, to increase. It is all the more reason why we have to wake up, stop getting used to it, shrug off our indifference and yell “STOP!”  Otherwise, it must be the Stockholm Syndrome because surely, this is not who we are.

One way to start that ball rolling, is to insist on tough and enforceable gun-control laws. As long as we tolerate a culture of hate, violence and intolerance, there will be more and more people, who will feel enabled and will want to kill. Even under these circumstances, fewer people will die, if most weapons and especially hand guns and assault weapons, are taken off the street.

It’s as simple as that.

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11 Comments

  1. Kathleen Gilchrist on

    Excellent article Hugh. I agree with you 100%. This article should be shared with the politicians in Canada, let alone the United States. It will not stop all illegal guns, but it is an excellent start. There is so much mental illness today and the government is not doing its job in providing proper health care, let alone making it accessible for those who need help.

  2. Hugh,
    I know your intentions are sincere and honourable.
    However the fact is that hand guns and other categories of weaponry are already stringently restricted in Canada.
    The killings we hear about are not done with legally owned, restricted weapons with almost 0 exceptions.
    If we banned hand guns etc it would make no difference.
    The problem is societal. Boys raised with no father in the home. Gangs and all that goes with them. Drugs. All the evils of young men with no prospects. Also IMO the several generations of young people who have grown up with the horrific violence in entertainment. It has imbued a normalcy in violence and indifference in every day society. What do we expect when this crap is the normal fare in entertainment?
    The situation is close to hopeless sorry to say.
    Ban hand guns by all means. And other futile measures. It falls into the “we have to try something” category.
    Once hand guns and assault weapons are banned what next? There are more weapons in the USA than there are people. Criminals don’t use legal weapons.
    I guess we should ban knives with blades over 6″ long too. A knife attack in a crowded place by a determined assailant is also a fearful event. Also noiseless.
    So many horrible things to contemplate.
    I don’t own guns so my thoughts are not motivated by fear of my personal situation.
    But I don’t subscribe to feel good attempts to solve intractable problems.

    • Jim Logagianes on

      10 year mandatory sentences for carrying a concealed weapon or committing a crime with a weapon. If you can not stop the flow of illegal guns coming into the country, gun control is not the answer is it. Everyone promoting gun control thinking that we will be safer are all sadly mistaken.

  3. It is much easier for a government to go after legal law abiding gun owners than the illegal gun toting gang members, so go after the legal owners. Going after legal owners does nothing but make a talking point.For about 80 years hand guns have been strictly controlled by law, and they must be registered/
    Talk to the OPP or RCMP and you will find the number of register gang guns to be almost zero.
    A few years ago a Toronto Sun reporter did a story about going to bars, wanting a gun and was easily able to buy one, when he turned the gun in to police he got arrested, yet gang members caught with illegal guns are bailed out and back on the street in a day or two even with a long record.

  4. Good article Hugh.
    Jim and Jerry do seem to have a better understanding of the real
    problem more so than you do!

  5. Susan Godfrey on

    Hugh, being a well known Conservative, I noticed you didn’t make any reference to Stephen Harper who made sure that the rules for gun ownership were loosened, shall we say.

  6. Perhaps, you could have extended a tip of the hat to Prime Minister Trudeau, who will be discussing gun violence and protection today with Mayor Tory. It is patently unfair of you to consistently praise Tories, and to denigrate Liberals (e.g. Minister Hussen); while failing to acknowledge anything positive attempted by a Liberal.
    .
    I will credit you with occasionally praising Justin’s dad, and with having lukewarm feelings toward Premier Ford; but those opinions are both too intellectually valid to reject.
    .
    A “He says”-“She says” format, with you and, say, Erin Jones, would be far more educational and balanced.

    • Hugh Mackenzie on

      Mr. Millman, pleae show me in this article or any where else for that matter, where I “consistently promote. Tories” Yes, I am Conservative, but when I think they are wrong, the record will show I have no hesitation in calling them out. Unlike you as a self-confessed Liberal however, who brushes over clear hate speech, uttered by a senior member of your Party, by implying we are denigrating HIM! Shame!

  7. One might wonder if the citizens of the USA viewing their fractured society might tend toward feeling the need for personal weaponry for personal and family protection from the crazies populating their communities.
    Canadians have these feelings to a lesser degree but many may harbour similar views.
    An earlier poster felt it necessary to politicize the discussion. Too bad. It should be a serious and collaborative attempt to solve our problem.
    Keep politics out of it.

  8. Well Trudeau and Tory had their meeting and just like most of us
    expected it was a waste of time. They agreed not to disagree on gun violence .
    Hold additional meetings. No backbone to do what really needs to be done!
    Besides, who cares? It’s not the upper class that is dying. If we leave the criminals alone
    maybe it will all go away. Lol.

  9. Frances Botham on

    Do criminals register their weapons and have concern for owning legal weapons?
    That assumption is ridiculous. How will banning weapons change the mindset of some deranged person from going on a shooting rampage? The only thing that banning will do is give the politicians empty rhetorric and opportunity to pat themselves on the back for accomplishing nothing substantive.
    Stopping the threat to lives perhaps should focus on other things such as banning pesticides, herbicides, deadly food additives, chem trail pollution, sewage disposal and the list could extend on and on.
    The world is spinning out of control and logic.

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