In moving to protect its citizens, Canada has again taken steps at which the United States has repeatedly blanched. By proposing a ban on "Saturday night special" handguns and requiring the registration of all firearms, the Canadian Parliament has made a firm commitment to fighting crime.
For the last two decades, the United States has been obsessed with hardening punishments as the prime method for deterring crime. States have moved to institute the death penalty, and the federal government has sought "three-strikes-you're-out" legislation for convicted criminals. But only gun control has had the proven effect of increasing security-and life expectancy.
Legislators in the United States should not balk at the registration of all firearms. The mere ownership of a deadly weapon brings with it huge responsibilities; registration constitutes an acknowledgment of that responsibility. The police will never need to trace a registration unless the weapon is involved in a crime. Why deny the police a valuable way of identifying criminals?
Banning the small, inexpensive and readily available handguns known as "Saturday night specials" could lead to a dramatic decrease in street and household crime. These weapons are responsible for a large portion of deaths from street crime. For household crime, death and injury rates are several times higher for individuals who use firearms for self-defense. The overall effect of owning these handguns is the opposite of what gun-buyers expect.
Even those who believe in a constitutional right to bear arms should favor this measure. If you bear arms, it is no infringement on your liberty to have to register them as you would an automobile or cable television service. The kind of arms you bear cannot logically be free from restrictions; the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" precludes entrusting citizens with the ownership of especially dangerous weapons.
Taking guns away from citizens won't take all the guns away from hardened criminals, but domestic crime doesn't usually involve those particular culprits. Canada's new laws have the security of its citizens most at heart. At a time when Congressional representatives are considering a repeal of parts of the Brady Bill, firm resolve on gun control is crucial. The U.S. should have the courage to follow our northern neighbors' wise example.