Open Carry

 It’s sometimes astonishing that Canada and the US are in the same continent. The share so much history and culture and stuff, but in some gigantically enormous ways they are completely alien to us. Ya, there’s this whole douche-bagger or trash-bagger or tea-bagger thing; or whatever they call themselves. I can’t even being to understand what’s been polluting their drinking water. But that’s just a few really loud crazies. What always really strikes me is the American attitute toward guns.

This “open carry” thing in particular is mighty strange.  Open carry means you’re allowed to carry a gun, openly, as you go about your daily business. So you wear your Glock as you drop off the kids at daycare, get your groceries, go to the gym and on Sundays, you and hubby tuck your his-and-hers Smith & Wessons into your dressiest holsters and trot off to church.

This sounds so bizarre and foreign to me, but apparantly the majority of states allow “non-prohibited” citizens to openly carry a loaded handgun without any special licenses or permits. Other states allow citizens to carry loaded weapons openly or concealed with a state-issued permit. Only 7 states and the District of Columbia do not allow the open carry of firearms.

All this openess is relatively recent — I guess since terrorists started runnin amok in the USA.  There are a few groups protesting it, but two-thirds of Americans are not only comfortable with this regression to the days of gunslingers but believe their constitution should guarantee them the right to “bear arms”.

The FBI estimates that there are over 200 million privately-owned firearms in the US – that doesn’t include guns owned by police, military and security personnel. Approximately 80 million people in the US own guns and the average gun owner usually owns several firearms including pistols, shotguns, and rifles of all makes and models.

Interestingly, Canada has about the same number of guns per capita as the US.  We do not, however, have the inherent “right to bear arms” and most of our guns are not hand guns.  We need a Possession and Acquisition License (PAL) to own a gun for hunting or target shooting or collecting, but it’s pretty much impossible to get a permit to own a gun for self-defense. Every gun has to be registered as well as licensed, although there are a few issues with our gun registry.

In Canada, only occupation-related circumstances are considered valid reasons to own and/or carry a handgun (i.e.: armoured vehicle personnel).

One of the segments of our physical education classes in high school each year was rifle-shooting, (we were all farmers). We had a small range under one of the stairwells. That’s about the only time I’ve ever handled a gun of any sort. It was fun to blast away at some paper targets, but the idea of wearing a loaded hand gun all day and walking around among a bunch of other people carrying loaded hand guns is freaky.

I don’t understand what these gun-toting people are so afraid of.  I don’t recall any time in my life so far (knock wood) where a gun would have come in handy. I know stuff happens to people sometimes, but what are the odds that even if you’re carrying a gun, that you’ll be able to use it successfully to defend yourself?

There are so many variables:

  • Could you shoot a human being even in self-defense? It’s easy to say yes, but not always easy to do, I understand.
  • If someone bigger and stronger than you or a group of people is attacking you, how likely is it that they’ll overpower you and take your gun?
  • Could you get your gun out and the safety off in time to defend yourself?
  • How likely is it that you’re the one who’s going to end up shot?

The level of gun ownership world-wide is directly related to murder and suicide rates and specifically to the level of death by gunfire. ~ Gun Control Network

Personally, I think we should all be permitted to carry small paintball guns which we can use against anyone who annoys us or pisses us off during the course of a day.

  •  The lady in the 8-items-or-less express line ahead of you has a cart full of groceries? Pop her in the back of her new perm with a purple paintball.
  •  Cashier is igoring you while talking on the phone to her boyfriend? Pop her in the forehead with a blue paintball.
  •  Cell phone dude finds out you still have a year left on your plan so laughs off your request for a phone to replace the one you just bought that broke right away? Pop him in the groin with a yellow paintball.
  •  Cyclist almost knocks you off the sidewalk as he’s speeding by? Pop him in the back with a big, black paintball.
  •  Drunken college gang hooting and hollering outside your door at 3:00 am? Hit them all with a mad volley of multi-coloured paintballs.

 I can’t tell you how many, many times I’ve wished I had something like that – just to emphasize a point when someone is being particularly belligerent or rude. I think it would really help to shape up the service industry and to make us all a little more polite.

What’s your attitude or experience with guns? And for the Americans out there — do you often see people wandering around the streets wearing pistols?

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62 responses to “Open Carry

  1. “The lady in the 8-items-or-less express line ahead of you has a cart full of groceries? Pop her in the back of her new perm with a purple paintball.” oh that made me laugh out loud.

    i find the whole “open carry” thing really scary. and can’t imagine the reason why anyone would want to. except maybe because everyone else is. sort of a shoot or be shot kind of attitude though isn’t it? yet another reason why i am glad to live where i do.

  2. I don’t get the national fascination with guns either. Very, very foreign.

    I’m glad for our gun laws. And for our general lack of interest in firearms.

  3. I have just spent the last 2 1/2 long years in a call centre supporting American cell phone users. I can’t count high enough to tell you the number of times during that period people called to tell me they lost their mobile phones AND I only helped the ones not savvy enough or too lazy to use the self service option to suspend phone service.

    All this is to say, if the average American can’t keep track of a cell phone or use it responsibly how do they keep track of their gun?

    Other silly, or perhaps not so silly, scenarios come to mind from the daily evidence of lack of self control, personal responsibility , and supervision of kids.

    ” I didn’t know there were bullets in it, your company didn’t warn me I could kill someone”

    ” Well I certainly didn’t take that shot. I only use my gun in emergencies ”

    ” You guys are always jacking up my bill to get me to buy more bullets”

    ” Your company didn’t explain that to me when you sold me the gun, I am not responsible you guys are!”

    “If you think I am going to pay for this you are crazy I’m calling my attorney unless you restore that life now! I mean it ”

    ” I don’t like the way this one works, can I upgrade to the new i Gun?”

  4. Like you I’ve never been in a situation where I would have needed a gun, nor do I suppose I ever will be. And honestly, I don’t think people in the US have more to worry about than we do. It just seems so damn bizarre.

  5. Smothermother – I guess the average joe thinks that if the badasses see a gun slung on his hip, they’ll leave him alone. If I was a badass, I think I might mess with that average joe deliberately to show him how he’s labouring under a crazy delusion that a little gun is going to keep him safe.

    Sky – Well, the interest seems to be there if we have the same amount of guns per capita. So, I’m guessing that if the law allowed us to openly carry weapons a lot of people might actually do it.

    Jay – Ha ha. Probably those scenarios are not too far fetched. Like when Homer Simpson joined the NRA, remember? And he was too lazy to turn out the lights, so he just shot them out? And he was too lazy to open his beer, so he just shot a hole in it?

    Jazz – Well, they do have to worry about all the people totin’ guns…

  6. Yup, I don’t get it either. Funny enough, any time I’ve been to the States, I’ve never actually seen an average person with a gun on them. I think that would totally freak me out. I think I’d get the hell away from them if I did.

  7. Yeah – this amazes me too.
    Most like to point to our different systems of health care as the big diff betwen our two countries, but I believe our attitude toward guns are chasms apart.

  8. Last time I was in Arizona I was shocked by the signs in the Ikea parking lot asking customers to leave their guns and alcohol in their vehicles. My friend who lives down there tells we that there’s even a gun check at the local public library.

    I can’t imagine what it must be like to live in constant fear like that. Why would you carry a gun if you weren’t worried that you might have to use it?

  9. I live in Texas and I’ve never seen someone openly with a gun but then I spend a lot of time in bars and firearms are not allowed in bars. As for us personally, we own two tiny kiddie water guns and one air pump Nerf gun, so we only have toy guns. As for self-defense in our home, we have a baseball bat under the bed and I keep a golf club by the front door. We also have a real actual sword, so if someone ever breaks into our house, they will probably wish we had just shot them.

  10. I sometimes wish I could carry a paintball pistol to shoot the windows of dangerous drivers with, when cycling.

    Unsignalled abrupt right hand turn? Pop, pop, pop.

    Dangerously surging past cyclists on very narrow streets? Pop, pop, pop.

  11. Have you seen Bowling For Columbine? The lesson I learned from it is that a big chunk of my fellow countrymen are *terrified* all the time, of everything. A lot of that group thinks carrying a gun somehow makes them brave. Or something. I don’t get it personally.

  12. One time, I took the tour of the US Congress. On my keychain, I had a tiny little multi-tool. The security people took it away and put it in a locker. Then, they gave me a huge yellow plastic card with ‘WEAPON’ written on it, and a picture of a handgun.

    I carried it around for the tour, then traded it back for my multi-tool. I wonder what the other people on the tour thought, given that I was about twelve at the time.

  13. …coming from a country where guns (and drugs) have caused so many sad moments, I will never agree with a policy for open carry guns. While I have been in the US I have never seen a person carrying a gun. I would be jumping away as fast as I can… but when I was living in Baja (Mexico), I have seen people carrying guns and I never agree with the inherited attitude from the “power and safety” that a gun provide. For me it is not only ignorance but a false arrogance. In my country, in South America, there was a time when many people used to carry guns for self-defense against the drug dealers, kidnappers, etc… in the last 8 years, in my country, a huge percentage of safety feeling has been recovered, that means people have no fear to walk on the streets as normal as must be, without the protection of a gun… so, I can conclude that they were not comfortable carrying guns on their bodies, just in case…
    At the end, those “just in case” moments suddenly happened that the victim never had the time to use the gun… or in events like a bomb explosion…the situation was too strong that a gun was completely useless…
    And yes, during those times, go to the University or to the mall implied going through a checking line where some guards will be sure that you were not carrying a gun under your dress… and in the parking lots they checked under your car with a big mirror, and opened the trunk to be sure you were not carrying explosives or guns… crazy, awful and sad, very sad times…. thanks my kids just know those things because we told them, but not because they have to see them as part of their daily rutines…

  14. (Disclaimer: I don’t own any real firearms.)

    I used to play tournament paintball in the ’90’s, so I am well aware of what it feels like to be shot multiple times.

    I assume that everyone who thinks it would be “funny” to shoot someone who pisses them off has not played the game before.

    While it does not really hurt that much, it isn’t the sort of thing you’d want to do to someone who is not wearing proper safety equipment.

    It will destroy an unprotected eyeball.

    It would also likely destroy a man’s testicle, so shooting someone there is not recommended, and is why I always wore a cup when playing.

    So I find it kind of ironic that some of the people commenting think it would be “funny” to shoot someone with a paintball gun, but then go on to come down on a person who owns or carries a “real” gun.

    A paintball gun is simply a tool, just like a regulated firearm.

    It is how you use that tool that makes all the difference.

    A tool is capable of causing harm if it is misused, especially if it is put into the wrong hands.

    If I had my paintball gun and you were unprotected, I could make short work of you – at best, you would be incapacitated, at worst you might actually be dead.

    Believe it.

    The tool itself cannot cause harm, to do that requires either intent or ignorance. I think most times with firearms it is ignorance.

    Now, to the mentality of the people who carry.

    Perhaps some of them do have a real need for it, and the rest of them are “fearful”, and so, want to be prepared for something that will never happen.

    I’ve never needed the seatbelt in my car, or my car insurance, either.

    I probably never will.

    Does that mean that I am “fearful”, or just prepared.

    I don’t know, because the law here requires me to have both insurance and seatbelts.

    But maybe if I didn’t need insurance, I wouldn’t pay for it, because I personally think it is a racket.

    Would I have a firearm for protection if the laws were different here?

    I don’t know, and because of the laws in Canada, I never will.

  15. Mary Lynn – I guess it depends where you go. There’s a map on the “open carry” link I provided that will tell you which states have which laws.

    Trashy – I couldn’t believe it either when my friend in Arizona told me people actually wear their guns to church.

    Allison – Ha – what a coicidence considering what I just told Trashy. Ya, I guess it’s still up to the individual businesses to decide whether they’re open carry or not. I don’t know what they’re afraid of either, unless it’s each other??

    Geewits – Nerf guns are almost as good as paintball guns. I can’t imagine, despite the regulations that most people actually want to tote a gun around, so I’m not surprised that it’s not all that popular.

    Milan – YA! It would probably cause a few accidents though. And the people on your US Congress tour probably thought you were just another regular 12 year old red-blooded American kid who had to check his handgun before the tour.

    Dave – They SAY it’s a deterrent. Just like capital punishment is a deterrent, I guess. Oh ya.

    Nathalia – Ya, I don’t know why the US is modelling itself after 3rd world countries people want to get away from. Seems kind of self-defeating to me.Thanks for sharing your insights — it must have been a very difficult place in which to grow up.
    Brett – You’re such a party-pooper. When I said I wanted a paintball gun, I did mention “small”. I know the normal ones are pretty painful and can cause damage– I was thinking of a modified version, that just sort of pokes people and leaves a bit of a mess. I would never advocate actually hurting someone just because they’re annoying.

  16. I don’t think it is fear that motivates them to carry a weapon, and I don’t think those who do carry, live in fear. Would you like me to ask some of my American friends about it? I know a few who have guns but I don’t know if they carry them, except to the shooting range.

    @ Brett Legree – very interesting points about paintball guns. I have never “played” paintball and did not know all those details. I do remember that woman here in Ottawa who may have lost an eye because some kid shot a paintball gun out of a moving car at her, while she waited at a bus stop. I wonder what ever happened to her?

  17. Not only am I a party-pooper, I also put butter in my maple syrup heh heh… 🙂

    It’s okay, I know what you meant. I just thought I’d “do the right thing” and be a responsible paintball gun owner.

    The standard ones are .68 caliber (0.68 inch projectiles). The smallest generally available is .43 or 11 mm and wouldn’t hurt as much (but still wouldn’t be “eye safe”).

    Now, for your purposes, might I suggest a “spud gun” from Walmart, they’re 97 cents – you sort of jam it in a potato, it breaks off a small piece of spud, then you can pop your dog, your mother, your kid with it since the spud bit only goes about 10 feet!

  18. XUP, I’ve been to Virginia and North Carolina a few times, but no gun sightings. Guess I totally hang out in the wrong places. That’s fine by me.

  19. I do not get it, not at all.

    The only Canadians I’ve ever known who were obsessed with guns are my little boys – who’d chew one out of a piece of toast if lego or gun shaped sticks were not available (I think their “bang you’re dead!” play is along the lines of your paint ball fantasies). A boy from high school who became career military, and my ex…who works now for the RCMP as an analyst in the gun registry type stuff they do.

    My ex’s experience with guns before getting this job was teenaged riflerange firing….and a whole lot of science fiction based roleplaying games and video games, and online research for stories that had lots and lots of guns in them. I’m not joking.

    That is expertise in Canada!

  20. @mudmama,

    In spite of my disclaimer, I am another one of “those” kinds of people – I study the history and operation of all sorts of firearms. I have dozens of books and could identify (and probably operate, and maintain) just about everything on the planet.

    I guess I took an interest in it because I grew up near CFB Petawawa, and studied what I saw (though I am not in the military and never have been).

    Role-playing? Yup. Lots of that in my youth.

    An interesting coincidence – I applied for and interviewed for a position with RCMP as a forensics analyst in the firearms division in 2008, all on the experience gained from my “historical hobby” (I believe I did not land the job as it was in Vancouver, and the successful candidate lived there, whereas I am in Ontario).

    Consider me another expert, perhaps.

    But with four children, the last thing I need is an unintentional “event” in my household, so it goes no further than books here.

    Having broken up a couple of “post-Star Wars” lightsaber/screwdriver battles in the kitchen, I’d prefer to avoid “blaster wars”…

  21. I have a 30.06 Winchester rifle and a 12 gauge pump shotgun. The only time they have been out of the closet in the last 20 years is when we were cleaning the closet.

    The only people not in uniform I have ever seen carrying a hand gun in a holster were plain-clothes police officers, probably detectives, though they were not wearing the stereotypical suits and ties — small towns and rural America, don’t ya know.

    The right to bear arms is in the second amendment to the US Constitution: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

    As most recently used in a 2008 Supreme Court decision, the opening phrase — A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State — is meant as a non-exclusive, example reason for the amendment. In that context, “the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” is the meat of the amendment.

    The constitution will never be amended to remove the right to bear arms. The requirements are too difficult to satisfy, especially given the power of gun owner associations such as the National Rifle Association (NRA).

    I, personally, would be in favor of an amendment that excluded pistols and automatic weapons from the “right to bear arms.”

  22. @Mike,

    That’s been my experience in the US (I have traveled extensively, and have only ever seen police officers or military personnel with openly displayed firearms).

    For anyone in the Ottawa area, take a drive over to Vermont some time.

    While enjoying that beautiful state, keep in mind that Vermont has some of the least restrictive firearms laws in the country (concealed or open carry is permissible, and no permit or license is required for purchase or carry).

    Vermont was ranked second for safety in the US in 2009. It seems to work for them – as I said, it depends on the users, not the tools.

    It would be an interesting exercise to compare the violent crime rates in Vermont with those in Ontario.

    So, here we go:

    For 2007, Vermont’s violent crime rate was 124 per 100000 .

    http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2007/data/table_04.html

    In 2006, Ontario’s violent crime rate was 756 per 100000.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_Canada

    Interesting, eh?

  23. I left you an interesting comment, but it contains two links and so has been moderated – I think it will add significantly to this great discussion.

    -Brett

  24. I’ve never seen anyone except police carry a gun. I’ve known a few people who owned them but kept them locked at home. I do want a paintball gun now, though. Or maybe one of the those toy guns that shoot darts with suction cups instead of points, get ’em in the forehead when they annoy me!!

  25. Julia – Ya, ask them. So far no one has ever seen an American carrying a gun except my friend in Arizona.

    Brett – Potatoes aren’t nearly as messy as a splotch of paint. It’s the paint part that makes it fun. So if a cashier is covered in paint by the end of her shift she should get a good talking to by her manager.

    Mary Lynn – Maybe they’re not as popular as the vocal minority of gunslingers makes them out to be. I haven’t been to the US in a good 10 years or more.

    Mudmama – What is it about little boys and guns? Same thing happened to XUP Jr’s babyhood friend. For 3 years they played nicely together, then at about age 3 everything the boy picked up was a “gun” and all his games involved shooting things. Meanwhile XUP Jr had discovered Barbie (much to my chagrin – she found one at a yard sale and turned into a quivering mess). That was pretty much the end of their friendship.

    Brett – Ya, what fun when the kids get into the gun cabinet, eh?

    Mike – Ya, there’s really no need for automatic weapons – even for self-defense.

    Brett – But Vermont, eh – look at the place. It’s all trees and hills and the Von Trapp family. The biggest city is Burlington which is like a rural village. Ontario has some bad-assed big cities.

    Connie – Welcome to the blog! I think suction cup guns are transition weapons. Today suction cups, tomorrow uzis. Ha ha. I think we should petition our governments for the right to bear paintball guns – with very soft pellets that don’t shoot with very much force because we don’t really want to hurt anyone.

  26. @XUP,

    True about Ontario.

    Okay then… let us compare Nova Scotia with Vermont.

    Nova Scotia – 900000 people roughly, 45 people per square mile, 1135 violent crimes per 100000 people in 2006

    Vermont – 620000 people roughly, 66 people per square mile, 124 violent crimes per 100000 people in 2007

    Firearms laws in Nova Scotia – very restrictive.

    Firearms laws in Vermont – virtually non-existent.

    So what else is different? The climate is sort of the same, it’s in roughly the same part of the world, population and population density is the same order of magnitude.

    It’s the people who live there (attitudes, standard of living, and so on).

    Maybe Nova Scotians know that they’re unlikely to run into Dirty Harry, and so they’re more apt to try and lay the boots to their neighbours when they get into an argument over who drank the last pint of Keith’s?

    (“Did he fire six shots or only five?” Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?”)

  27. Dave – when I rented Bowling for Columbine, after watching it, I rewound (oh back in the day!) and tried watching it again. I fast-forwarded through the bits that disturbed me, and discovered that I was fast-forwarding through the entire thing because it’s all so crazy!

    Brett – I’ve never handled a firearm in my life, but I have also spent a good amount of time reading the Box O’ Truth website (theboxotruth.com). Maybe more because I like sciencey research than the gun aspect.

    Brett – are the violent crimes reported the same way for NS vs VT (e.g. police reported vs. surveys)? Do they include the same types of crimes in the statistics (and on the books)? (These are honest questions, not rhetorical rebuttals)

    I am disturbed when I see a police officer wearing a firearm (as I would if I saw a non-police-officer wearing one, but that doesn’t happen in Ottawa). Plus they’ve got Tasers now and all sorts of other things. I like the way the UK did it, where until recently the only police with firearms were special squads.

    Did you know that knife-related crime is on the increase? It’s true, I heard it somewhere.

    Canadian border agents have only recently been given firearms, but their job isn’t to hunt down people who blow through the crossings; they call in the RCMP for that.

    – RG>

  28. Halifax is an international seaport so the comparison is once again weighted towards the desired conclusion.

  29. @Brett

    I’m not sure why you chose Nova Scotia as your comparison. Halifax is the violent crime capital of Canada and it is tied to several factors that do not have any bearing in a state like Vermont. Its a very active port city and that attracts organized crime activity. It is a tourist location and that impacts on violent crime too (notably prostitution). When you have that much drug activity in a city and high end theft (stolen cars being shipped overseas) youth are severely affected. Most of that violent crime is tied to young offenders, and a full half of the population of Halifax is youth and young adults. That also increases crime rates.

    It would be better to compare Halifax to a city of the same size and makeup in the US – say New Orleans.

  30. @RealGrouchy,

    Exactly – appreciation of the science. I also like to study high-performance road cars (e.g. street legal cars with 500+ hp). Of course those are only built for one thing… to break the law 🙂 but one can appreciate the machine’s technology.

    I agree with you about the British style of policing – I always thought the general officers should have nothing but a radio. They should also be walking around, not driving – interacting with the community. Solving problems.

    I’m not sure about the reporting methods – which is a useful point of illustration.

    Look at the fun we can have with statistics, wrap them up in a sensational story to support a particular agenda, and swing public opinion – that’s how this works, that’s how this has always worked.

    Both sides in this debate, in any debate, always do this (as per my reply to Jay below). Both sides are right, and neither side is right.

    @Jay,

    But of course – you are right, and have proven my point. Any side in a discussion will do the same thing with statistics.

    The anti-gun lobby will choose the very worst case scenarios to make their arguments, just as I chose to use specific cases and leave out key pieces of information.

    Obviously I meant no disrespect to Nova Scotia (I quite like the province and the people there) – this is yet another case of “lies, damned lies and statistics”.

    There can be no objectivity when human beings are involved.

  31. @mudmama,

    Once again, you understand. I chose to use two points of reference to illustrate a desired outcome without giving the entire story.

    This is exactly what each side does – the anti and the pro are both guilty of this type of thing.

    It also shows how emotional attachment can come into play – I expected a few people to “run to Halifax’s defense” and say, “yes, but…”

    I have nothing against the place, of course!

    But I knew if I picked it for an example, someone would say, “yeah, but… the youth… the economy…” etc.

    No one can be objective in this discussion.

    One might choose to compare Halifax to New Orleans, then say, “see how much worse Halifax could be if they had firearms everywhere!”

    But you can’t prove it, because there might be some other key factor that would swing things (maybe drinking Sazerac makes you really violent, and Alexander Keith’s makes you friendly, who knows?)

    There are simply too many factors involved to be able to say, if we do X, then Y will happen.

    But the anti- and the pro- do it all the time.

  32. Brett – Still, Burlington Vermont has 40,000 people while Halifax has 300,000. The Halifax-Dartmouth area is the biggest city on the east coast of Canada and it has big city problems – especially Dartmouth. And I’d venture to say that 80% of the violent crimes in Nova Scotia happen in the city, with the other 20% happening in Cape Breton where you have poverty and high tempers as those people watched their livelihoods shut down one after another. Still, you know what? Of all the places I’ve ever lived or visited for any length of time, I’ve never hated any place like I hated Vermont. It’s a bigoted, racist, unfriendly, redneck state. Not even criminals want to live there.

    Grouchy – Thanks. Now why can’t you respond to comments on your own blog like this?

    Jay – Thank you. I forgot to mention that part.

    Mudmama – Maybe a better comparison would be Vermont to PEI? They seem very similar to me in attitudes, too. I’m sure the islanders would be next in line after Alberta to be allowed to carry guns.

    Brett – Nice recovery. However, statistics aside, common sense would dictate that if you have a bunch of people running around with loaded weapons they’re going to get used sooner or later. The taser is example is a good one.

  33. Knife related crime is on the increase in Winnipeg.
    I’m guessing if carrying guns was legal in Canada there would be fewer knives being carried and less crime involving knives.

    Carrying a knife is really common in Manitoba. If you were trying to open a box with tape on it and asked if anyone had a knife half the guys in a room would pull one out of their pocket.

    Not sure if something similar would happen in the U.S.A.
    Or if a gun would be good for box opening..

  34. I once saw a comment on someone’s Facebook status that said, “An armed society is a polite society.” And I thought, isn’t that the biggest pile of bullshit squeezed into seven words that I’ve ever seen. If you treat your neighbours with courtesy and kindness because you know that they could plug you with their 9 mm if you’re rude, that’s not politeness, that’s fear. Globally, Canadians and Brits are reputed to be the politest people, and we have strict gun laws.

    And I’ve seen people carrying guns in Michigan. It was a long time ago, in a mall, and the store clerk at the Payless Shoes store had a holstered gun on his belt in plain view.

  35. XUP – because I don’t get as many comments. I wait to get enough to respond to them in bulk, then they never come.

    Alternate answer: because I’m too busy responding to the comments on your blog posts.

    Alternate answer: I do reply like this on my blog. You’ll note that I don’t respond to every comment on yours.

    😉

    – RG>

  36. @XUP,

    Perhaps. I don’t know for sure. About half of the people where I live and work carry pocket knives.

    We don’t get a lot of stabbings.

    Many of these same guys have hunting rifles. Can’t remember the last time there was a murder.

    It’s the people.

    So I tend to agree with Glen.

    Can’t get a gun? Use a knife.

    Or a hammer.

    Or a frying pan.

    @Glen,

    Agreed.

    @alison,

    We do live in an armed society. It is legal for anyone to carry a knife as long as the blade is below a certain length.

    As per above, a lot of people where I live “carry” (knives).

    Being polite is the key, I think.

    But being polite and having strict gun laws are two separate issues.

    My personal opinion is that we have those strict laws, and we continue to face more and more legal restrictions as Canadians in other areas (e.g. copyright law), not because we’re polite, but because we’re a bunch of pussies, if you’ll pardon the expression.

    Canadians by and large don’t seem willing to speak up in public.

    We complain in private, we kick the dog, but when push comes to shove, we roll over.

    Lawmakers know that, and special interest groups are able to get things done because we are passive.

    Maybe that’s why our crime rates are higher than they might otherwise be – criminals know we’re soft?

  37. “Personally, I think we should all be permitted to carry small paintball guns which we can use against anyone who annoys us or pisses us off during the course of a day.”

    LOL! That would be nice, but in all seriousness, there was a girl who might be blind in one eye, because some asshole shot at her with a paintball gun for “fun” while he was driving by:
    http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/news/city/story.html?id=6f0caf25-05b1-48ae-b160-43e5874c6122

    So my stance is-Civilians should not be able to carry guns and paintball ones should be kept at paintball game venues.

  38. @Pauline,

    There was a similar incident in my own town – it happened to the daughter of one of my co-workers.

    Of course – *of course* – there were outcries to “ban paintball guns” in the area.

    I have a better idea, how about we prosecute the criminal to the full extent of the laws that already exist, instead of being a bunch of nicey-nice candy-asses and feeling sorry for an adult who should have known better because it was his “first offence”, and going easy on him?

    (Hence my comment about Canadians being pussies. We can’t even punish our criminals effectively, and they know it.)

  39. @XUP,

    Missed out on this part of your comment “Still, you know what? Of all the places I’ve ever lived or visited for any length of time, I’ve never hated any place like I hated Vermont. It’s a bigoted, racist, unfriendly, redneck state. Not even criminals want to live there” so thought I’d respond with a personal Nova Scotia story, since we seem to be giving Nova Scotia an A+ rating.

    My parents are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet – I know, because they’re my parents!

    They moved to Nova Scotia in 1992 and returned to Ontario in 1999 – why?

    Because after 6 years, they were still “the people from Ontario”.

    They just couldn’t “get in” with the locals.

    I spent a couple of summers there in my off time during university.

    I found the same thing – the people were friendly on the exterior, but just were not interested in getting to know you if you weren’t from there.

    So there – you paint with your brush, I paint with mine.

    And there is *still* more crime in Nova Scotia than there is in Vermont, so I WIN muahahahahaha 🙂

  40. Slow-moving pedestrians who spin around and leap into my lane when I ding them, their eyes wide with amazement at the sight of a bike on the bike path? Paint-ball ’em!

  41. I don’t own a gun for a variety of reasons, but I grew up with them in our home and I can shoot very well.

    If I did own a gun and woke up to someone standing at the foot of my bed, as two young lesbians did last year in Seattle, I would not hesitate to pull the gun out the holster attached to the bed and shoot him. I still keep thinking if they would have had a gun they would both be alive today, instead one was stabbed to death after an 90 minutes of rape and torture. Sometimes guns come in handy.

  42. I remember going to one of those massive amusement parks in Tennessee and getting the shivers at the sign that said “please check your firearms”.

  43. Glen – A gun would be a messy box-opener, but the box would get opened. I think it’s harder to kill someone with a knife. You have to get really close to them and then the knife has to be pretty sharp and pretty long. And then you actually have to plunge the knife into them really hard. And if you hit muscle or a bone then you’re kind of screwed. It would still hurt, but no one would die. Also, unless you’re really lucky, you probably have to stab a whole bunch of times before hitting a good killing spot. A gun on the other hand you can shoot from far away and if you hit the person, you’ve got a pretty good chance of doing serious damage.

    Alison – FINALLY, someone has actually seen someone with a gun out in public. I guess that little homily is the same as saying if you beat your kids whenever they misbehave and threaten them with a more severe beating if they do it again, you’ll end up with nice well behaved kids who respect their parents’ wishes.

    Grouchy – Yes, I see. I like it when people respond to other people on my blog. I also like it when they respond to me on my blog or on their own blog. I like it when the topic turns into a conversation (except when Brett’s involved of course – cqtm)

    Brett – Oh hi, Brett…didn’t see you there. Don’t look at my comment to Grouchy. Also, our crime rates are pretty low and getting lower every year, despite what Mr. Harper might have us believe at the moment. As I said to Glen, it’s really easy to hurt someone with a gun. It’s not as easy to hurt them with a frying pan or even a knife. It’s also not as easy for kids to go on a mad frying pan rampage in their schools. But your point about the special interest groups getting their own way is a very good one. Most people just can’t be bothered getting really involved. I don’t know why. Is it because we’re polite or lazy or too laid back or are we just happy? Maybe nothing really aggravating enough or threatening enough has happened yet that would get people off their kiesters. I’m not sure what it would take though. And about Nova Scotia – I lived there for 9 years and I absolutely agree with your assessment. I was always the Upper Canadian. Everyone is real friendly when you’re new or if you’re a tourist, but you can never ever get into their clan. Ever. It was lonely. And one of the reasons I left. I wasn’t suggesting Nova Scotia was perfect, if it was I’d still be there. It’s not as evil as Vermont though.

    Pauline – As I said previously, I was not advocating for the same type of paintball guns used in paintball places. I was thinking of a kinder, gentler paintball gun that just sort of pokes people with little splashes of paint – nothing that could actually hurt anyone.

    Robin – Huzzah! That bike path is messed up anyway. I don’t know why pedestrians and bikes are both going the same way. On the street they go in opposite directions. That makes sense. New people to Ottawa don’t even understand where they’re supposed to be walking.

    Cedar – If you had the gun under your pillow or close at hand and it was loaded and you had the presence of mind to grab it and shoot before the crazy man was on you and grabbed it from you and shot you or something. So many things can go wrong. But then again, in cases like the one you mention you really have nothing to lose by giving it your best shot, so to speak.

    Meanie – I should think that would have been reassuring. At least you know no one is one the Coaster of Death waving a revolver around yelling YA-Hooooooo!

  44. I don’t own a gun, have never shot a gun and don’t even plan on doing either. Unless you’re coming to rob or brutalize me in some way in which case I’d like you to know that I have a very big gun and I know how to use it really, very well.

  45. @XUP,

    Yeah, I’ve been hanging out here a lot today, eh?

    (Hey, it’s been fun!)

    I can’t resist adding my two cents – gotta spend them before the HST comes in, ya know…

    Is it easier to kill someone with a firearm than with a knife or a frying pan?

    Depends on the killer, and the “killee”, and the weapon of choice.

    A highly-trained or experienced knife fighter with a decent blade will do you faster, than someone who has never shot anything using a .22 pocket pistol, unless it’s a very lucky shot (as in, through the eye socket).

    As I said, I’m a bit of a historian on the side with this stuff. I remember a stat from a study done by Evan Marshall (he was a police officer) on “combat effectiveness” of various projectiles.

    Your readers will have to trust me on this (unless they want to go and find and read a really strange book…) – but basically in a nutshell, around 85 percent of all handgun caliber gunshots are NOT FATAL.

    On the other hand, greater than 95 percent of all rifle caliber shootings Marshall studied were fatal.

    There’s a big difference between someone shooting you with a handgun, versus a military caliber rifle (or a hunting rifle).

    I’m not saying you want to get shot, ever – but one thing to bear in mind is that with all of the shootings that have happened, we’ve been pretty fortunate that:

    a) most of them have involved pistol caliber weapons, and
    b) most of the shooters have not been terribly experienced.

    If a trained professional ever did this with a serious rifle, it would make what we’ve seen look pretty tame.

    Trust me.

    Anyway… I agree with you about what happens if a firearm gets into the wrong hands e.g. a disturbed youth.

    The trick is to prevent that from happening.

    So, once all of the legal firearms in Canada have been sent to the smelter, how do we keep the illicit weapons out of the country?

    Answer – we can’t. We have the longest undefended border in the world, and everyone knows that the Canadian border resembles Swiss cheese.

    Just ask the guys who run the “BC Bud” across the 49th on their snowmobiles 🙂

  46. Not only am I from the States, I’m from Texas but I still don’t think guns should be allowed. Too many wackos out there.

  47. It sometimes amazes me how much my attitude towards guns has been shaped by my Canadian-ness. The very idea of them freaks me out, and it was only last year, at 31 years old, that I even SAW one. My friend had me hold hers (she has it for work) while it was unloaded and I almost came undone.

    The idea that in the states they’re sold at WalMart blows me away. But it is heartening to know that very few commenters in the states have actually seen anyone doing the open carry thing.

  48. Snort! I love the paintball gun idea! 🙂

    I so couldn’t use a gun. I went to a shooting range with an ex boyfriend once. I didn’t even want to go in the first place and then totally refused to shoot a gun. He thought I was insane and being a baby but I wouldn’t even touch the gun. Not sure why I had such an enormous reaction to it, but I have no intention of ever shooting a gun. And I don’t understand people feeling the need for a gun in their nightstand to feel safe.

  49. Linsey – That’s good to know….either way.

    Brett – I do find all these statistics confusing. One side can prove that guns make the country safer; the other side can prove that they make the country more dangerous. Just like that whole international nuclear weapon thingy.

    Linda – Do people in France have guns? At all?

    Lara – They do feel really dangerous – just to be around them, nevermind touching them or firing them. I agree with you.

  50. @XUP,

    That’s my point.

    There is no simple answer when you involve human beings, and you can’t just say, “if we do ‘X’, then ‘Y’ will happen”.

    Just remember that each side on any dispute has an agenda. I mean, I have an agenda here, just trying to suggest that people think a bit about this sort of thing before assuming that the good old US of A is a shooting gallery.

    If we think that by banning legally owned firearms completely nothing bad will happen anymore, then we are mistaken.

    The horse is out of the barn, and there are millions of unregistered firearms around the world – there will be millions more manufactured, faster than our law enforcement can confiscate and destroy them.

    I’m not saying we shouldn’t try, but…

    Last time I checked, they were not selling heroin at Le Baron and there isn’t a “heroin industry” so people with a legitimate sporting purpose can buy it.

    Yet… it is available, and always will be.

    So we must live with it, and try to stay out of the way.

  51. >>Could you shoot a human being even in self-defense? It’s easy to say yes, but not always easy to do, I understand.

    I think so. I’m a former soldier, so give or take, I’ve been trained to shoot people. I’m likely one of the only people you’ve met who has drawn a firearm on a person… but the person backed down and I didn’t have to shoot him. That was one of the most tense moments of my life, and I’d like to not have to repeat it.

    >>If someone bigger and stronger than you or a group of people is attacking you, how likely is it that they’ll overpower you and take your gun?

    The research shows that it is very likely. A gun in a purse, for example, is much more likely to be taken and used to compel the woman than it is to defend the woman. It’s even more likely to not be used at all.

    >> Could you get your gun out and the safety off in time to defend yourself?

    Very few people could. Research has shown (and you can demonstrate this for yourself) that even a trained person with a holstered firearm is unlikely to be able to draw it and get off an accurate shot in the time it takes an attacker with a knife out to cross 20 feet and stab the person.

    Try it for yourself. Get someone with a plastic spoon in hand to stand 20 feet away from you. Put an heavyish object in your pocket in in your belt – a cordless drill is a good call.

    When the spoon guy is ready, his mission is to poke you with the spoon. Your mission is to draw your drill or whatever and say “bang” before you get touched.

    It’s harder than it seems.

    >> * How likely is it that you’re the one who’s going to end up shot?

    Again, the research shows it is very likely.

  52. Here’s what my American friend said:

    “While I support the right to carry openly, I cannot carry openly in Florida which disallows open carry except on your own property or your employer’s property if authorized by your employer. i.e. you can only get a license to carry concealed, not openly.

    I personally would likely not carry openly in an urban environment. Here are some reasons:

    1. unless you are highly skilled in weapon retention, AND are wearing a retention type holster, the gun can be taken away from you by a bad guy. Most of the open carry folks do not seem to have a retention holster (one that requires a very specific series of moves to unholster the handgun. Most of the uniformed police holsters have this feature.

    2. it eliminates the surprise factor of a concealed firearm if you are confronted by bad guys.

    Having said that, I do think it is a handy way to carry a firearm on your own property if it is outside an urban area, and if there are predators such as snakes, alligators, bears, etc.

    Why do people carry openly? It is part of the “use it or lose it” attitude toward the right of law abiding citizens to carry a firearm. It makes us more visible, especially to politicians.”

  53. Brett – I never said the USA was a shooting gallery – although they do have a lot more shootings than other countries. Also, I don’t think anyone has said that nothing bad will ever happen if we ban guns – just that less people will get killed and injured by shooting. And yes, there are millions of guns around and we’re not going to be able to destroy them all, however, that doesn’t mean the average joe on the street has to own one and/or carry one around with him. Right now in Canada, most of us assume that hardly anyone owns a gun. If that changed and we heard that a lot of our neighbours owned guns a lot of other people would think they’d better get a gun, too Who wants to be the only unarmed person on the block, right? This is what the whole arms race is/was about. Then everyone keeps getting bigger and more deadlier weapons.

    Squid – Thanks for validating what I was thinking. It’s actually common sense. The bad guys have badness on their side, too, which makes them a lot more dangerous than a regular person who has no badness, only fear and maybe a gun or a few judo lessons. Our best bet is to try and eradicate the underlying factors leading to crime not trying to turn everyone else into criminals.

    Julia – Interesting. In light of what Squid has said above, I wonder how long it would take to get your gun out of a retention holder, aim it and fire it if a bad guy grabs you on the street one night?

  54. Oh, I know you personally were not saying that. It was just the “royal we” and “royal you”… 🙂

    Life is one big “arms race” for many people, anyway.

    I am less concerned about handguns than I am about, say, 300+ hp European sport sedans with 16-year old new drivers behind the wheel.

    In my opinion, these things are more dangerous (and more common in the cities, due to the affluent Boomers buying their kids Bimmers) than handguns ever will be…

  55. As my self defence instructor said to us, your best defence is not to be grabbed in the first place. Someone else told me that “distance was the best defence” – i.e. get the hell out of there.

    I’m with Brett there, and am more afraid of other, unintentional weapons like cars, than I am of muggers. That said, I still think I saw the bike path killer (remember Ardeth Wood?) before he was caught but it was broad daylight and I whipped by him at about 35 kph on my bike, prepared mentally to deal with an attack should it transpire (it never did). It’s when one is unprepared that shit happens. Well, okay, shit happens all the time, but you know what I mean.

  56. Julia – Well sure we’re more afraid of cars and other unintentional weapons because there are a lot of those around. That doesn’t mean we might as well arm everyone with guns, as Brett is sort of suggesting, since it won’t add to the danger. No, I don’t remember Ardeth Wood. I’ll have to look that one up.

  57. No, I didn’t suggest we arm everyone.

    In fact, quite the opposite.

    I do not believe that there are many people who are capable of responsible firearms ownership.

    I also do not believe that there are many people who are capable of driving responsibly, either.

    In fact, I believe that probably 50 percent of the drivers who are currently licensed should have their privileges revoked.

    On a typical long weekend in Ontario, more people are killed on the 401 than are killed each year in Ontario by handguns, or something like that.

  58. Brett- Ha ha. More people are killed in their own bathrooms than they are by having deadly nightshade slipped into their before-bed milk, too. I confess to being one of those people who should have their license revoked. I don’t know what they were thinking ever giving me one. Fortunately the only time I drive is on Saturdays when I drive slow on the driveway.

  59. i think we should be able to have paint ball guns too 🙂

    i’m not a fan of real guns that can not only kill people, but accidentally can kill people. not worth the risk for me.

  60. I was enjoying reading and wasn’t going to replay, until I read a comment that said “They do feel really dangerous…”

    I’m an Ontarian, in the field of Occupational Health and Safety, and there are a lot of things we do every day that *should* feel dangerous to us but we continue to do them.

    A responsible person with an interest in guns can learn to be extremely safe with them, and they can be a lot of fun! (Never met anybody that didn’t have a great time their first time Trap shooting)

    Now to the open carry question. I own a few shotguns, a few rifles, and a handgun. I’m excited to take my handgun to the states so that I can “open carry” but I honestly think I’ll do it just to say that I did… I doubt it would go over very well if it were ever allowed in Canada. I could see people getting histarical about seeing a gun! *GASP*!!!

    It just kills me that people don’t think twice about cutting through my construction site at 120 km/h+, potentially plowing into an unsuspecting worker, just to save 30 seconds of their precious time… But the site of a gun makes people scared.

    Stupid people make me scared! 🙂

  61. Just think about this:
    The people who will use guns to hurt people already have guns because they do not care for the law. Now if you have a loaded weapon visible and accessible that person will think twice, for there is no doubt whether or not you have a means of defense.