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RUSSELL WANGERSKY: No one needs a handgun

File photo of a Glock handgun. Last summer the teen, who cannot be identified due to a publication ban, was convicted of two counts of attempted murder and one count of possession of a loaded firearm.
A Glock handgun. — SaltWire Network file photo

I’m up for the argument: tell me, why should handguns even be sold in this country?

More to the point, instead of arguing, I’m more than willing to listen to a side of the debate that, right now, I just can’t seem to figure out.

Anyone up for it?

(And, for ease in contacting me, here’s my email, even though it’s also at the bottom of the column — )

First, though, there’s no real need to start off any communication by calling me a left-leaning liberal hack or any of the other usual slurs that often seem to pass for debate these days. I’m asking for your input here, so you can jump right in to the meat and potatoes of your argument.

I started thinking about it after reading a Wednesday editorial in the Globe and Mail, an editorial spurred by the recent spate of gun violence in Toronto. There were 17 people shot in that city over roughly 72 hours, and, chances are, they weren’t shot by someone hauling a long gun out of their trousers. (The shootings are still under investigation.)

The Globe editorial argued that there is little reason for people to even own easily concealable handguns.

“It’s hard to see any legitimate reason for selling or owning handguns, except for use on gun ranges, and that negligible upside hardly seems worth the downside…”

“Reclassifying handguns as prohibited weapons would mean that those who own them would be grandfathered and could keep them, but handguns could no longer be bought or sold,” the editorial said.

I’d love to punch a hole in their arguments, but try as I may, I can’t. Gun aficionados who already have the weapons would be able to keep them, but the market would be closed off in future.

Why not? It’s hard to see any legitimate reason for selling or owning handguns, except for use on gun ranges, and that negligible upside hardly seems worth the downside — that the weapons can be and are stolen, and end up in the hands of violent criminals. (An argument that’s regularly made is that guns are flowing across the border from the United States, and taking licenced handguns away from Canadians would hardly change that.)

There’s hardly any other use for handguns. I can remember the debate about the federal gun registry, and about the way it would supposedly criminalize working tools used by trappers, farmers and other people working on the land.

I suppose that argument might be made to some degree for handguns, but they are primarily close-quarters tools, and in the great outdoors, it’s hard to see why a rifle or shotgun would not be as effective. You’re rarely close enough to an animal in the wild to effectively and accurately shoot it with a handgun — in fact, handguns can’t be used for hunting.

And since we don’t have an enshrined constitutional right to bear arms, nor a high-powered, big-money political lobby trying to sway elections on the issue, we don’t really have to deal with anything beyond the bare and obvious facts. What’s a handgun for, besides shooting targets and people?

There’s even clear popular support for the move — polling so far this year puts support for a complete handgun ban at around 61 per cent. Two thirds of Canadians surveyed would welcome a government handgun buy-back program.

Even so, the federal government has been wishy-washy on the idea. Handgun regulation has been considered by the federal Liberals, and some have said it may be part of their electoral platform this fall, but they certain don’t seem to be in a rush to talk about it.

So tell me — why do you think that the public should be able to buy a weapon that, let’s face it, is primarily designed for killing people?

I’m all ears.

Russell Wangersky’s column appears in 39 SaltWire newspapers and websites in Atlantic Canada. He can be reached at — Twitter: @wangersky.


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