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Linking Mitic’s gun love to crime a misfire

On behalf of Edelson Clifford D'Angelo Friedman LLP posted in Criminal Defense on March 16, 2016.

One dark and rainy evening, a police officer came across a drunk man, fumbling on his hands and knees underneath a streetlamp. When the policeman asked him what he was doing, the inebriated fellow responded that he was looking for his keys.

Happy to help, the policeman joined in the search. After a few minutes of unsuccessful searching, the policeman asked the drunk if he was sure that he had lost the keys over here. The drunk shook his head and replied, no, I lost them in the park down the road.

Why then, asked the officer, are you looking under the streetlamp? “Because,” responded the drunk. “The light is better over here.”

When faced with difficult issues of social policy, there is a temptation on the part of both the public and politicians to look for the answers where the looking is good, rather than where the answers are likely to be hiding.

Unfortunately, the otherwise usually on-the-ball Sun columnist Susan Sherring falls into this same trap in her latest column, “Gun tweet bad timing for councillor.” In it, she calls out Ottawa city councillor Jody Mitic for tweeting proudly about his latest purchase, a pair of legally owned and registered handguns, one for him and one for his wife — both licensed firearms owners.

Chief Charles Bordeleau also piled on, while claiming not to be “against legitimate collectors”, he questioned the propriety of Mitic’s tweet. He also stated, rather authoritatively, that, “having firearms in your residence increases the likelihood of your house being targeted.”

Fascinating point of view. Unfortunately, what Chief Bordeleau states so matter of factly, stands in direct contradiction to the government’s own statistical analysis.

According to the Department of Justice’s review of firearms related crime, “There is no evidence that households containing firearms are necessarily targeted for burglaries.” In fact, that same report reviewed 16 analogous jurisdictions in the United Kingdom and Wales that clearly “revealed the unlikelihood of firearm owners being specifically targeted by offenders.”

The conclusion that, in the wake of Ottawa’s five recent shootings, Mitic is somehow not “shar(ing) the load of the city’s fight,” is not only contrary to common sense, but has been rebutted — time and again — by empirical evidence and statistical research.

First, the research. In his peer-reviewed study, published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, Dr. Caillin Langmann found there was no beneficial association between stricter gun legislation and the rate of homicide by firearm between 1974 and 2008.

Common sense tells us the same thing. The fact of the matter is simple — there is no correlation whatsoever between legal gun ownership and the gang-related violence that Ottawa is currently experiencing. After all, laws are only for the law-abiding.

By and large, the firearms — almost exclusively handguns — used in gang shootings are smuggled into the country illegally. They are almost never registered, let alone owned by law-abiding gun owners. Those who possess them are completely outside the system of lawful gun ownership.

Gun owners such as Mitic are subject to the most stringent background checks known to our law — and are automatically reviewed on a daily basis by the RCMP.

The problem of gang violence engages some of the thorniest and most complex issues that our society faces — matters of youth alienation, poverty, drug abuse and trafficking and cultural integration.

While it may be tempting to point the finger and demonize the nearly two million law-abiding gun owners in Canada for the acts of lawless hooligans, we do so at our own peril.

And, we risk being like the drunk, searching for his keys under the lamppost, ignoring the true source of the problem for the sake of the politically lazy and convenient solution.

This article was originally published at

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