In order to deter people from using guns for violent purposes, the underpinnings of criminal behaviour need to be fully identified and understood, Toronto criminal lawyer Laurelly Dale writes in The Lawyer’s Daily.

“Gun laws will not deter criminals from using guns for violent purposes. Legal gun ownership is conflated with gun violence. It is an easy scapegoat; however, the only meaningful answer to ‘how did this happen?’ comes from an understanding of what creates a criminal,” Dale notes.

The recently passed Bill C-71 will expand background checks from five years to an entire lifetime. Dale says a major concern with the bill is the stigma it assigns to those with mental health issues.

“It reinforces the misconception that those with mental health issues are also criminals,” she says. “Through enforcement, an assumption is made that those with mental health issues are predisposed to violence and criminality in general.”

“While I agree that those with existing suicidal/homicidal ideation should not have a gun, how is this to be to effectively regulated? Bill C-71 misses the mark of its intended target. Gun laws do not address the impulse to commit violence,” she writes in the legal publication.

“So, how do we deter criminals? Mandatory minimum sentences do not work. Reactionary gun laws are popular but fruitless. We prevent crime by identifying the biological, sociological and psychological underpinnings of criminal behaviour and then addressing that behaviour,” Dale writes.

“Until we acknowledge this difficult truth, we will continue to bang our collective heads against the wall at each stage of the gun tragedy cycle ineffectually looking solely to the symptoms of violence,” she says.

Originally published in the Advocate Daily September 18th, 2018:

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