Guns and shooting used to be a very important and enjoyable part of my life for over 35 years. Guns and target shooting also helped me to develop self-worth, self-confidence and (likely) reduce the impact of and even escape, the severe abuse I experienced during my early teens. However, as cathartic or enjoyable as guns were in my life, I gave them up over a decade ago during a period of depression stemming from a substance problem which led to suicidal ideation. In spite of my long history of safe, responsible and enjoyable gun ownership, I (along with 80% of other Canadians) fully support laws or regulations which reduce the number of guns in circulation as a first-step towards reducing gun-related deaths – intentional or accidental.

Target Shooting - Johnny Stork
Shooting at the PSA (1987)

Although there are many (easily debunked) arguments against gun control taking place in my country following the mass-murder in Nova Scotia, I won’t go through them all – with one exception. You will often hear the claim by gun advocates that “guns don’t kill people, people do“. Unfortunately for gun owners this is a claim easily debunked with a bit of basic logic. First off, it’s not an argument for anything, it lacks a conclusion. But of course since it is usually given in the context of gun regulations we can assume it has something to do with that. We can also assume that the claim has something to do with the mental-state or intentions of the gun owner being the cause of the gun violence/crime, rather than the gun itself. Unfortunately – once again – the facts and statistics do not favour the gun advocate since less than 1% of homicides (in the US) are attributed to mental-illness. But the primary error in logic around this oft-used claim by gun advocates is the logical fallacy known as the “flaw of proximal causation“.

When someone is killed or injured by a gun, the ULTIMATE cause of their death/injury is the gun itself. The person pulling the trigger is a PROXIMAL cause of the death or injury. If a gun is not available or accessible during the commission of a crime, act of violence/domestic assault, moment of suicidal ideation or when a child stumbles into a room, closet or cabinet accidentally, then no gun-related death can occur. The more guns we have in circulation, the more likely a gun can be stolen and used in the commission of a crime or murder; the more likely a gun can be found accidentally (or intentionally) by a child; the more likely a gun can be used in a moment of rage, domestic assault or suicidal state. And in countries or US states where gun laws are the most relaxed, the higher the number of mass shootings. This points to a very simple, logical and self-evident fact – more guns equals more gun deaths.

The opposite is also true. When there are fewer guns in circulation and tougher gun regulations, there are fewer gun-related crimes, fewer gun-related homicides, fewer accidental gun-related deaths and FAR fewer successful suicides. Countries or even US States with the toughest and most restrictive gun laws, have the fewest number of gun-related accidental deaths, homicides or mass-murders. Tougher gun laws also means fewer children killed by guns,

Colt Trooper .357, S&W .357 & High Standard .22

I really do appreciate the joy of gun ownership. I used to own many guns – target rifles, shotgun and handguns. I reloaded my own ammunition and even came VERY close to earning a “shot” at the 1976 Olympics. I appreciate the beauty and precision engineering that goes into a quality handgun or target rifle. I appreciate the joy, the pride and personal satisfaction that comes from shooting a close grouping after practising for weeks and fine-tuning my breathing, positioning and the unique performance characteristics of my Anschutz target rifles. In fact the first time in my life I felt any sense of personal pride and self-confidence during many years of abuse as a teen, was when I won ALL rifle competitions (against grown men, I was 14) in a community shoot at the Pacific Shooters Association (PSA) in Lynn Valley (around 1974).

Anschutz Target Rifle
Anschutz .22 Target Rifle

At the time (1972-1976) I struggled with a crippling lack of self-worth or self-confidence. I felt lonely, isolated and was a frequent target of abuse and ridicule at school since I was unattractive with pimples, wore glasses, was useless at sports and had no redeeming qualities or “style” recognized by teens at the time. On top of the self-worth challenges in my social and school life, I was trying to survive deeply traumatic psychological, emotional, physical (and some sexual) abuse by an alcoholic and violent parent. Once I got into shooting, absorbed myself into the mechanics, ballistics, discipline and precision involved, I excelled quickly and became one of the top small-bore three-position competitive teen shooters in BC. I earned a few medals and was invited to shoot at the 1975 Canada Summer Games. I knew everyone I was going to compete against, and I also knew I would easily beat two of the three other shooters, based on previous competitions. The only competitor I was unsure of was a young teenage girl who had beaten me a few times in the past. But all I had to do was place (1st, 2nd or 3rd) and I would have headed to the 1976 Olympics. However, the stress and trauma of the growing abuse in 1975 forced me to decline the invitation to compete in the Canada Summer Games. When I turned 16, and likely with some of the self-confidence I had earned through shooting, I was able to escape the abusive family environment and take my life into my own hands on the streets of North Vancouver.

Winchester Model 1300
Winchester Defender Model 1300

I do appreciate the joy and satisfaction of responsible gun ownership. I also appreciate and respect the opinions, and frustration, of the many safe and responsible gun owners in Canada who will be impacted by these new gun regulations. But the simple fact is that FEWER guns equals FEWER gun-related deathsPERIOD! The recent gun massacre in Nova Scotia should be seen as a wake-up call to all Canadians that we are not immune to the scale of gun-related deaths and mass murders we see South of the border. Since 2013, gun-related homicides have risen steadily in Canada and in 2018 reached a 25-year all-time high. We need to try and stop this trend.

Canadian Gun Homocides

Fewer guns are significantly and positively related to reduced homicide rates and overall gun deaths. This is not rocket science and you don’t need to be a statistician to understand that FEWER guns means FEWER gun-related deaths. This is the simple and obvious fact often intentionally ignored or denied by (many) gun advocates. Don’t allow the denials, biased reports, flawed arguments (logical fallacies) or distractions to dissuade you from this obvious and inescapable self-evident fact. Sure, the “assault weapons” ban is not perfect, has flaws and is in need of some fine-tuning. But this should not be a reason to deny it’s very real and likely impact – a reduction in gun deaths and lives saved!

For those of you who agree that FEWER guns equals FEWER gun-related deaths, you need to speak up by signing this petition. The gun advocates opposed to this legislation already have their own petition. So let’s show our politicians who’s voice is in the majority, allow our democratic process to work as it is intended and take this first and reasonable step towards slowing down the growth of, and maybe even preventing, gun deaths in Canada. Click on Canadian Assault-Style Weapons Ban, or the image below to sign the petition.

Canadian Assault-Style Weapons Ban
Canadian Assault-Style Weapons Ban