Monthly Archives: November 2015

Why Do We Let People Keep Handguns in their Homes?

It was not that long ago that I actually thought it was illegal to own a handgun in Canada. I knew all kinds of people with shotguns and rifles, but I had never heard of anyone owning an actual handgun. Then a deranged and jealous man shot his ex-girlfriend and her boyfriend a short drive from my house with a legally purchased handgun. A few days ago someone was convicted of first degree murder for shooting his girlfriend in St. John’s with a legally purchased handgun. I find it surprising that so many Canadians look at Americans as being a bunch of gun nuts but yet it is extremely easy to buy a handgun in Canada.

People have shotguns and hunting rifles for hunting. Hunting, particularly on the island of Newfoundland, is a good thing. Aside from providing healthy food for people, it helps control the moose population, which in turn lowers the risk of dying by crashing into a moose on the highway. The reason that people have handguns is that they really like shooting handguns.

As I understand it, people with handguns are only allowed to use them at shooting ranges. If you apply for a license to own a handgun and state that the reason why you want one is to keep it under your mattress so you can shoot intruders you would no doubt be turned down, but yet people who like shooting at the range are allowed to keep a handgun and ammunition in their home. If you are granted a permit to use a handgun at a shooting range then it would seem reasonable that the handgun should stay at the shooting range. You should have some kind of locker there and not be allowed to remove it or the bullets from the range.

I understand that there are background checks and if you have some kind of conviction for a violent offence you probably cannot own a handgun. The one blind spot in these regulations is that men who abuse women often do not have convictions for violent assaults. They are too cowardly to pick a fight with a man so they tend to seek out vulnerable women who won’t report abuse, and so they never end up with a violent conviction, not until it is too late.  There may be people out there right now who are not leaving an abusive relationship because they know their partner has a loaded handgun in the house and has threatened to use it.

If you are the type of person who really enjoys shooting handguns, I don’t think you are the type of person who should have a handgun in your house. Think about it, if you have a neighbour whose favourite hobby is shooting off handguns, would you feel comfortable with him having a loaded handgun in his house? I suspect you would feel much safer if the person had his gun locked up at the shooting range a 30 minute drive away on the Trans-Canada. Why would a responsible handgun owner have any objection to storing his guns at a licensed shooting range?

Stop Retweeting Angry Twitter Trolls

If you follow any prominent columnist on Twitter, be it in sports or politics, you have no doubt been exposed to the occasional deluge of angry, hateful and sometimes deranged re-tweets. Every time an opinion writer states an opinion, a tiny minority of their followers will send the person a mean-spirited hate-tweet or a half-baked conspiracy theory. Rather than simply ignoring and blocking such people, a growing number of prominent people have chosen to retweet these messages to all of their followers. This needs to stop.

There are two reasons why people retweet their deranged followers, both of which are misguided. The most common reason is simply to say to the rest of their followers “Do you see what I have to put up with?” Well, on behalf of all of your civilized followers, we know what you put up with. We know that there are all kinds of angry people out there who say angry and mean things online. You don’t need to remind us.

The other, less common reason for these retweets is to embarrass these so-called Twitter trolls by broadcasting their terrible comments to the world. Many loyal followers often bombard the troll with tweets chastising him or her for their comment, sometimes with hateful words of their own. This is a waste of time as these type of people typically do not have any shame and all of the responses actually play into the person’s craving for attention. Furthermore, it is unlikely that the problem of too much negativity online will be solved with additional negativity.

Most of the people on earth are good people, or at the very least, not horrible people. In an age when the internet and social media have served to provide a giant megaphone for every negative and depressing thing that ever happens, it is easy to start thinking that that the world is a horrible place filled with horrible people and things are getting worse by the minute. I’m not a sociologist, but that kind of world view cannot be healthy.

One of the biggest problems with retweeting hate-tweets is that it gives angry, isolated people a feeling that they are not alone. If you are sitting in front of your computer, hating the world and everyone in it, and all you see around you are sensible, functional people, you might at some point question whether it is you that has a problem. If, however, you see all kinds of angry and paranoid tweets being retweeted by the prominent people you follow, you may take comfort in thinking that there are many others out there who hate the world just as much as you. You may start following those people and retweeting them. Perhaps society would be a little better off if prominent columnists would just let us all remain in our state of innocence about the nasty side of social media.

Note: This is an updated version of an article published by the same author a year ago on another blog.