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Friday, May 25, 2007

A Comment on a Comment

I was just after reading a story on the BBC News website concerning a school shooting in Toronto. the thing that really got to me, after the horror of reading of another school shooting, was the quote of a comment used to promote others to comment. It went thus:

"Canada has very strict gun laws, but the laws don't work."

It was attributed to someone from the Good Ol' US of A, and it made me shudder. The reader who made this comment shows no ability to reason critically. I say this because of facts stated in the article itself.

For example, this killing was the 26th in Toronto this year and the 13th with a handgun. I'd like to point out that Virginia Tech has a higher murder rate on one day and that all of them were by handgun. Atlanta, the city I currently live in, had 90 murders in 2005, which was its best year in 36 years. In 2004, there had been 151. This was in a city with a population of about 480,000.

Meanwhile, in Toronto, there are only 26 murders in six months in a city with a population of 2,500,000. Can anybody see the difference there? Is it possible that Canada's stringent gun laws had anything to do with this discrepancy? I could be wrong, but I make that as murder rates of 9.6/100,000 (reducing the total number of murders by half to make the numbers comparable) in Atlanta to a murder rate of 1.4/100,000 in Toronto.

By all rights, because of its huge population, Toronto should be much more dangerous than Atlanta, but it isn't. Trying to claim that their gun laws don't work based on the occurrence of one shooting is fallacious reasoning. Blaming our high rates of murder--particularly via handguns--on our lack of laws may or may not be right, but it has more basis in fact than the other.