Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Why not cover the whole story?

Recently I watched an episode of CTV’s W5 which followed the history of a firearm with a highly questionable entry into public ownership and a disgustingly deadly end to its history. It demonstrated some great research and editing, had a good story line and was presented in a logical, linear manner.
My problem with the show is what was the point? I think I know the point they were trying to make, but if my guess is right, their point was not very well defined. I also don’t think they were heading toward the proper, educational point they should have been trying to achieve.
Let me first re-cap the story.
A young man in Georgia is selling illegal drugs and decides he should have a hand gun for his protection. He goes to an infamous dealer (in Atlanta, I believe) and purchases a well engineered, and well built semi-automatic pistol chambered for .45 ACP. This particular weapon is designed for concealed carry and the calibre for serious stopping power.
(.45 Automatic Colt Pistol – this is only the cartridge designation; the weapon was not made by Colt)
A friend of this young man convinces him that he should NOT carry the gun; not because he doesn’t know what he’s doing but because of the legal implications of being caught with illegal drugs and a firearm for which he doesn’t have permit to carry.
The young man’s drug centre is hit by another drug distributor and he is shot and killed. His firearm, which was at his home at the time of his death, is sold by his mother for a few hundred dollars. It is transported to the North East and sold by another gun dealer (with a questionable background). It eventually winds up in Montreal where it winds up in the night stand of a man who has a 4 year old son. The son and his playmate remove the weapon from the night stand; the playmate pulls the trigger and shoots the boy.
With this particular calibre cartridge it would not have mattered where a small boy is hit, the result would have been the same. In this case the boy was hit in the face.
So what was the point of this documentary? Too many firearms which are too easily accessible? Gun dealers without a sense of responsibility?
If one or all of these was their intention they didn’t bring any of these points home. Yes, firearms are easily accessible even under the most draconian firearms control legislation. This should be obvious since there are many jurisdictions with such laws (Canada for example) under which there are often more illegally owned firearms than legally owned.
Yes there are a few gun dealers who fail their responsibilities to society. As it happens the two dealers in this documentary were conforming (just) to the laws within their particular states. Any state where anyone can walk in to a store and walk out with a firearm while still knowing nothing about how to handle it needs to upgrade their legislation. Any state where a drug dealer can buy a ‘legal’ weapon in any length of time needs to upgrade its legislation.
As it happens, both dealers are no longer in business under their original business names.
The pertinent points that W5 missed?
1. Anyone who owns a firearm should not be able to take possession until they have been properly trained. (Twenty hours at a police academy does not, by itself, constitute proper training.)
2. Those that have been convicted of a capital offence or have no known source of income should not be allowed access to firearms except under extraordinary circumstances.
3. Firearms are stored in a secure location which does not include a bed-side table.
4. Firearms that are loaded are for use, not storage.
5. Firearms that are stored are not only double-checked to be empty but are left with the safety engaged. In the instance listed above, the firearm should also have had a trigger lock installed.

And, in addition, the forgoing (including the list) does not constitute any part of a firearms training program.

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