Violence Paper

This essay has a total of 2498 words and 12 pages.


Issue of Gun Control and Violence
The issue of gun control and violence, both in Canada and the United States, is one that
simply will not go away. If history is tobe any guide, no matter what the resolution to
the gun control debate is, it is probable that the arguments pro and con will be much the
same as they always have been. In 1977, legislation was passed by the Canadian Parliament
regulating long guns for the first time, restructuring the availability of firearms, and
increasing a variety of penalties . Canadian firearms law is primarily federal,
and"therfore national in scope, while the bulk of the firearms regulation in the United
States is at the state level; attempts to introduce stricter legislation at the federal
level are often defeated".The importance of this issue is that not all North Americans are
necessarily supportive of strict gun control as being a feasible alternative to
controlling urban violence. There are concerns with the opponents of gun control, that the
professional criminal who wants a gun can obtain one, and leaves the average law-abiding

helpless in defending themselves against the perils of urban life. Is it our right to bear
arms as north Americans? Or is it privileged? And what are the benefits of having strict
gun control laws? Through the analysis of the writings and reports of academics and
experts of gun control and urban violence, it will be possible to examine the issue sand
theories of the social impact of this issue.

Part II: Review of the Literature


In a paper which looked at gun control and firearms violen seine North America, Robert J.
Mundt, of the University of North Carolina, points out that "Crime in America is popularly
perceived [in Canada] as something to be expected in a society which has less

respect for the rule of law than does Canadian society..." . In 1977, the Canadian
government took the initiative to legislate stricter gun control. Among the provisions
legislated by the Canadian government was a "Firearms Acquisition Certificate" for the
purchase of any firearm, and strengthened the "registration requirements for handguns

and other restricted weapons..." .

The purpose of the 1977 legislation was to reduce the availability of firearms, on the
assumption that there is a "positive relationship between availability and use". In Robert
J. Mundt's study, when compared with the United States, trends in Canada over the

past ten years in various types of violent crime, suicide, and accidental death show no
dramatic results, "and few suggestions of perceptible effects of the 1977 Canadian gun
control legislation". The only positive effect , Mundt, found in the study was the
decrease in the use of firearms in robbery with comparison to trends in the United States
. Informed law enforcement officers in Canada, as in the United States, view the "impact
of restricting the availability of firearms is more likely to impact on those violent
incidents that would not have happened had a weapon been at hand"(152).

In an article by Gary A. Mauser of the Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, he
places special emphasis on the attitudes towards firearms displayed by both Canadians and
Americans. According to Mauser, large majorities of the general public in both

countries "support gun control legislation while simultaneously believing that they have
the right to own firearms" (Mauser 1990:573). Despite the similarities, there are apparent
differences between the general publics in the two countries. As Mauser states that
"Canadians are more deferent to authority and do not support the use of handguns

in self defense to the same extent as Americans". As Mauser points out that "it has been
argued that cultural differences account for why Canada has stricter gun control

legislation than the United States"(575). Surprisingly enough, nationwide surveys in both
Canada and the United States "show remarkable similarity in the public attitude towards
firearms and gun control"(586). Both Canada and the United States were originally

English colonies, and both have historically had similar patterns of immigration.
Moreover, Canadians are exposed to American television (both entertainment and news
programming) and, Canadians and Americans read many of the same books and magazines. As a
result of this, the Canadian public has adopted "much of the American culture" .

In an article by Catherine F. Sproule and Deborah J. Kennett of Trent University, they
looked at the use of firearms in Canadian homicides between the years of 1972-1982. Their
findings firmly support the conclusion that gun control is beneficial. According to

Sproule and Kennett, gun control "may be influencing some suspects to kill by other
methods, but it is less likely for these suspects to kill multiple victims". From the
study conducted by Sproule and Kennett the rate of violent crimes was five times greater
in the U.S than Canada, and "almost double the rate of firearm use in American than
Canadian homicides" (32-33). In short, the use of firearms "in Canadian homicides has
declined since the legislative changes in gun control in 1977".

As mentioned in lectures, Canadian cities have been traditionally safer, and less
vulnerable to 'Crime Waves' than our American neighbours due to our extensive police force
and gun control laws . A factor to be considered, though, is our national heritage

or culture which holds traditions of passiveness and peace unlike the American Frontier
heritage. From our textbook, Why Nothing Works, Marvin Harris points out that the
"American Constitution guarantees citizens the right to bear arms, and this has made it
possible for U.S. criminals to obtain firearms more readily than their counterparts in
countries like Japan...". Marvin Harris indicates that "the high rate of homicide in the
United States undoubtedly reflects, to some extent, the estimated 50 million handguns and
rifles legally and illegally owned by the American people" (122). As demonstrated in the
film: Cops, Guns, and Drugs, the problem with controlling urban violence in the United
States is that it is out of proportion in contrast to the available police force.

In his book, The Saturday Night Special, Robert Sherrill explains the cheap, usually
illegal, easily concealed handgun that plays a part in so many crimes in the United
States. He reviews the role of guns in American life-from the shoot-outs of the Old West

the street violence of today. According to Sherrill, "most murders occur in shabby
neighbour hoods; of the 690 murders in Detroit in 1971, for example, 575 occurred in the
black slums mostly by handguns". As a Detroit sociologist added to this alarming figure:
"Living in a frustrating stress-inducing environment like the United States every

day of your life makes many people walking powder kegs" (38). In agreement with this
statement, Sherrill suggests that the hardest hit of all American urban centres is the
inter-cities of Los Angeles, New York, Detroit, and Washington. These cities largely
consist of visible minorities who are frustrated with the hand dealt to them, and simply

resort to "drugs, guns, and violence" as a way of life . As discussed in lecture, and
viewed in the film: Cops, Guns, and Drugs, many of the youth in the underclass who become
involved in this way of life, "are considered to be old if they live past the age of 20" .

In another paper by Catherine F. Sproule and Deborah J. Kennett, they compared the
incidence of killings by handguns, firearms other than handguns, and non-shooting methods
between the United States and Canada for the years 1977 to 1983. In their study they found
that "in Canada there were 443 handgun killings per 100,000 people compared to 4108 in the
U.S. over the period of 1977-1983" . They also noted

that the "American murder rates for handguns are higher than the total Canadian homicide
rate"(249). According to Sproule and Kennett, "Canada's favorable situation regarding
murder relative to the United States is to a large measure the result of Canadian gun
control, and Canadians must be vigilant against any erosion of our gun control
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