Tag Archives: Canada

Gun control is too simple; an even easier solution is needed

30 Dec

Gun control-Obama


If Americans eat an incredible number of hamburgers, is it fair and safe to say that Americans like hamburgers?

Probably so.

If Americans shoot and kill an incredible number of Americans, is it fair and safe to say Americans like to shoot and kill Americans?

Probably not.

So what do we say?

I want to describe the phenomena here but the precise words elude me.

We can say Americans have a propensity to shoot and kill other Americans. Or they have a tendency, or are apt to. Proclivity. Predisposition. Propensity. Penchant. Inclination.

None of these words work. None of them say it.

Only the statistics do.

Take Iceland. According to the New York Times, statistics show that Icelanders do not like, and do not have a tendency or propensity, to shoot and kill other Icelanders. On average, 30 out of every 100 Icelanders have firearms, but figures show that in a recent year no Icelander shot and killed another.

The Norwegians are similar. There are an average of 30 firearms for every 100 resident of Norway, yet there were only two homicides with these weapons in a year’s time.

Other countries with very low rates of firearm homicides are Slovenia, Luxembourg, Hungary and Estonia.  Yes, these are small countries, so the number of deaths naturally is low, but so is the rate of deaths per 100,000. That rate in Norway, for example, is 0.5; in Slovenia it is 0.1.

The New York Times statistics say that in the U.S., where there are an average of 89 firearms per 100 people, the yearly death toll is 9,960. The firearms death rate is 3.2 per 100,000 people.

One country that seems to exceed the U.S. in animosity toward itself is nearby Mexico. While there are only about 15 guns per 100 people in Mexico, Mexicans shoot and kill 11,309 Mexicans in a year. That’s a rate of 10 deaths per 100,000.

I don’t know whether we have influenced our neighbors to the south, but we haven’t done so to our neighbors in the north. Canada has a lot of guns, about 31 per 100 people, but Canadians have kill only 173 people, a rate of 0.5.

So, for me the question is this: Can gun control legislation stop hateful, angry, maladjusted, blood-thirsty people from killing? If it is true we “like” to shoot and kill other Americans, will legislation stop this?

Certainly. But does it get to the heart of the problem, which is the “like?”

Years ago during a period of high inflation, when wage and price controls were being debated, a frustrated economist told me, “When the pot boils over on the stove, you don’t hold down the lid. You lower the burner.”

Gun control legislation tries to hold down the lid. I’d prefer we lower the burner. I guess this amounts to social engineering of some sort, which is always dangerous, risky and inexact. But I’m curious if anyone has studied the cultures of Iceland and Norway and Canada to find out what makes people different there. I’d really like to know.

I tend to think the American system, with its roots in merit and competition, has pressures and stresses and failures that other nations don’t have, and because we are so used to them – like a fish in water – we are not even aware they exist. They do, however, influence how we treat each other.

Merit and competition, I find, are good things. Not so much failure.

Is there a way to prevent abject failure? Is there a way to keep people off the street and in homes; out of prison and productive; with a job that ensures a life of reasonable dignity?

Our tendency to shoot and kill each other tells us things about our society that we like to ignore. I wish we would stop this. I wish we would face ourselves and correct ourselves and better ourselves.

It’s possible we may find out the secret solutions are relatively simple.

A man who taught for several decades in prisons did an informal study of the students who returned to him and those who did not. He found a correlation between recidivism and marriage. Every single ex-con who married when he got out never came back. The results were conclusive and definitive.

That’s pretty simple.

Let’s try something like that. A wife/husband, a job and an apartment.

To some who would shoot you just as soon as he would look at you, that equates to paradise. Paradise, I would guess, is the answer to just about everything.

By Lanny Morgnanesi




Canada – not flashy but likeable, and with an example to follow.

23 Jun

By Lanny Morgnanesi

Gerry always tried to be funny. He’d introduce himself this way: “Hi, I’m Gerry, a Canadian, bland and inoffensive.”

Like his country, Gerry was neither.

It was during the Vietnam War that I first realized Canada was different, hardly bland and willing to offend. Without fear of U.S. retribution, it welcomed Americans dodging the war, coming off like some hippie outlaw country. Later, in another context, I remember people talking disparagingly about “Canadian socialism.” They made Canada sound evil when I think it was just trying to be nice to its people.

More recently, comedian Dave Chappell used a satirical sketch to show at least one difference between Canada and the U.S. In the sketch, he posed as a political candidate with a solution to expensive American health care: Fake Canadian ID.

Canada is the country where people have lots of guns but don’t use them on each other. Canadians seem to be more comfortable with life, more at peace with themselves and each other, and less stressed. Their cordial mantra is the simple: Eh?

Internationally, they have few enemies.

While traveling, Gerry and I once met two young women from Eastern Europe, which then was Communist. President Reagan recently had taken a strong stance against their patron, the Soviet Union, calling it the Evil Empire.

Nothing like that had occurred in Canada.

The two women were strikingly beautiful but cold and dead serious. We tried to start a conversation. It didn’t take long before I noticed they would speak to Gerry but not to me. I asked why and they said they could not understand me because I wasn’t speaking Oxford English. So Gerry, in his inoffensive way, began acted as a translator, taking my English and “translating” it into — English. He did the same for them.

Funny, eh? We had recreated a bit from the film “Bananas,” but the Eastern Europeans didn’t get it.

But back to Canada.

In Montreal this spring, thousands of students took to the streets to protest an 80 percent increase in college tuition.

According to a newspaper report, tuition for higher education in the province of Quebec was to go from $2,611 a year to $4,700. It would be instituted gradually, $254 a year over seven years.

I was sorry to hear this. My sympathies, however, were not with the Canadian students but with American students, who must pay so much more. My concern was not with the Canadian government but with the American government, which clearly doesn’t value education as much as its northern neighbor.

While I haven’t done the math, and don’t want to do the math, I’m guessing one less war a year would provide more than enough funding to make college affordable; or the end of a subsidy to one or two highly profitable industries; or – dare it be said – taxing a bit more, or just cutting a few loopholes or simply being fairer about the whole process.

The goal would be to put money where it pays national dividends, and educating the populace tends to do this.

The U.S., by its own design, finds itself in the precarious and costly position of having to police the world. Meanwhile, nations that benefit from this use their money to build vibrant economies, keeping their infrastructure modern and their industries competitive . And some allow college students to sit in a  classroom for less than it cost to go to the movies.

If this pattern continues, the natural outcome is they will get stronger and we will get weaker. In time, the great American military won’t have much of a country left to protect.

A strong defense is important. What I find of questionable value is a strong offense.

Somehow, by someone, balance will have to be restored. The richest and most powerful country on Earth should be able to educate itself. Only when we have fallen from that top position will it be easier to understand that fending for one self must be the norm.

Then fake Canadian ID will really be important. I hope they don’t put up a fence.

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