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 to be 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 leglislation 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 citizen helpless in defending themselves against the perils of urban life . Is it our right to bear arms as North Americans ? Or is it privilege? 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 issues and theories of the social impact of this issue.
Part II: Review of the Literature A) Summary
In a paper which looked at gun control and firearms violence in 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 leglislation 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 comparion 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 defence 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...