Canada: Lies to the North of Us
by Dr. Paul Gallant & Dr. Joanne Eisen
Our dictionary defines "lie" as "a false statement with intent to deceive". A lie may result from the deliberate withholding of crucial information, from distortion of the truth, or from outright fabrication. But in the end, lies are told mostly to covertly manipulate the behavior of others. When someone lies to you, they sacrifice your own well-being for the sake of their self-interest. And, if you act in accordance with that lie, the actions you take may place you in jeopardy. When a law is founded upon lies, the chances are good that the law will benefit only those responsible for passing it. Such was the case on December 5, 1995 when C-68, Canada's national system of universal firearm registration, was enacted by Parliament. C-68 radically changed firearm ownership in Canada, affecting 20 million guns and almost 7 million Canadian gun-owners.
In order to frighten Canadians into wanting this law enacted, the firearm-prohibitionists didn't need to lie about the ability of gun-control laws to reduce violent crime (the perpetual lie told here in the States) - they only needed to show that Canada had a "gun-crime" problem which needed to be addressed.
As is invariably the case when it comes to gun-control laws, the road to C-68 was paved with lies. In this case, the lies were designed to create the "gun" problem the firearm-prohibitionists needed to enact C-68.
Lie #1: A Wounded Economy
Contained in the November 1, 1995 issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal was an article by Dr. Ted Miller entitled "Costs Associated with Gunshot Wounds in Canada in 1991". The issue date of the Journal was - just coincidentally - 3 weeks before the Senate vote on C-68 was to take place.
Miller's intention was to maximize the cost of firearm injuries to Canadians. He claimed that "the total estimated cost associated with gunshot wounds in 1991 was $6.6 billion (in Canadian dollars)". If "gun-violence" was as significant as Miller alleged - amounting to about 1 percent of Canada's Gross Domestic Product, or a per capita cost of $235 to every Canadian - that would indeed constitute a major concern - and be worth a second look by Members of Parliament at legislation which might lessen such a burden on Canadians.
In one example of Miller's chicanery, of the $6.6 billion estimate he arrived at, Miller apportioned $4.7 billion to suicides and attempted suicides. Anytime the firearm-prohibitionists start talking about suicides, reader beware: the objective is always to inflate firearm deaths. And whether they are Canadian, British or American, their tactics are all the same: lie, distort, and add in the suicides.
Miller ran true to form in this regard, neglecting to mention one key fact: even if firearms were absent, other equally deadly suicide implements would be used in their place. "Firearm" suicides might, indeed, decrease, but the total number of suicides would remain the same.
Some suicides, it seems, are more politically acceptable than others. When guns are involved, invariably something can - and must - be done to remedy the situation, which translates into more restrictions on firearms, of course. However, when the subject turns away from firearm-related suicides, even the rabidly anti-gun British Medical Journal will tell the truth. In a May 8, 1999 editorial entitled "Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness", the Journal noted that "systematic reviews have found that no interventions have reliably been shown to prevent suicide...".
U.S. Jury Awards??
In order to inflate costs incurred from those suicides, as well as from homicides and assaults, Miller continued his lies. His analysis included factors such as medical care costs, (victim) mental health care costs, public services costs, productivity losses, and funeral expenses. But the factors which accounted for the lion's share of the costs were "individual and family pain, suffering and lost quality of life".
Miller wasn't very honest in making his assessment of the cost of pain and suffering, either, and found a clever way to inflate these costs. With a straight face, Miller announced that "The value of quality of life for survivors of gunshot wounds was determined on the basis of prior analyses of U.S. jury verdicts" - the same kind of jury verdict which awarded a customer of McDonald's restaurants millions of dollars after spilling a cup of coffee on herself.
But suppose we take Miller's claim and figures at face value. Gunshot wounds account for only 0.5 percent of Canadian hospitalization days for the combined category of injuries, poisonings and violence. And this 0.5 percent figure carries an estimated annual price tag of $6.6 billion. Just where does that take us?
Let's see....that leaves the remaining 99.5 percent hospitalizations for poisonings, non-gunshot injuries, and violence unaccounted for. If we assume that those victims also suffered similar pain and lost quality of life, and if we extrapolate Miller's estimate of $6.6 billion to the remaining 95.5 percent of non-firearm hospitalizations, we come up with a grand total of $1,320 billion!
But according to the 1996 Information Please Almanac, Canada's Gross Domestic Product in 1994 was only $548 billion, about 1/3 of the estimate we arrive at using Miller's absurd assumptions of the costs associated with gunshot wounds. That brings us to a similarly absurd conclusion: the Canadian economy has already been bankrupted by non-firearm-related trauma costs, alone. Talk about a budget crunch!
Excluding Miller's estimate of "individual and family pain, suffering and lost quality of life", the total cost of "gun-violence" comes to $63 million for medical and mental health care, plus $10 million for public services - the cost of police investigation, transportation to the emergency room, and transportation to the coroner's office.
In short, just like Rumpelstiltskin was able to spin straw into gold, Miller was able to parlay $73 million into a grand inflated total of almost 100 times that amount: $6.6 billion!
In a scathing critique of Miller's junk-science "research", and the Journal's complicity in publishing it, Dr. Edgar Suter pointed out to the editor of the Canadian Medical Association Journal that, nowhere to be found in Miller's analysis was any mention of the protective benefits derived from defensive firearm ownership: the injuries avoided, rapes prevented, medical costs saved, and the property protected - translated into dollars and cents.
Said Suter: "Miller supports gun control and skewed his method and discussion to exaggerate his estimate of costs....[His] grossly inflated estimate of the costs of Canadian gunshot wounds arrive[d] just in time to be misused in parliamentary debates over Canada's [then] pending draconian gun prohibitions (i.e. C-68)".
Lie #2: Corpses Missing In Action
In June of 1994, the Canadian Department of Justice asked the RCMP (the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada's national police force) a simple question: how many firearm-related crimes did the RCMP investigate in Canada each year? The answer was highly relevant to the ongoing debate about C-68. According to the report delivered to Parliament by the Justice Department, the RCMP said that firearms were involved in 623 violent crimes in 1993.
But the Justice Department had lied in its report to Parliament. In fact, the figure it gave to Parliament was inflated by a factor of almost ten-fold: only 73 firearms-related crimes were documented by the RCMP in all of Canada during 1993!
In a column published in the Edmonton Journal on March 15, 1998, Canadian journalist Lorne Gunter noted: "...many fence-sitting [Members of Parliament] were persuaded. Maybe there really was a gun-crime problem. Maybe the registration of all firearms would make the country safer. C-68 became law."
It took two years for the Justice Department's lie to come to light. In a July 21, 1997 letter to George Thompson, Canada's Deputy Minister of Justice and Deputy Attorney General, RCMP Commissioner J.P.R. Murray stated that "The RCMP [only] became aware that there was a problem with the representation of the 1993 RCMP statistics on firearms involved in crimes in February of 1997, as a result of...[a request for] an affidavit as to the accuracy of the data..."
According to Murray, the RCMP investigated 88,162 violent crimes in 1993, but only 73 - or 0.08 percent of them - involved the use of firearms. Not 623 as the Justice Department had claimed and reported to Parliament!
Charging the Justice Department with "misrepresenting RCMP statistics by overstating the number of firearms involved in violent crimes", Commissioner Murray pointed out in his letter, "the incorrect reporting of the RCMP statistics could cause the wrong public policy or laws to be developed and cause researchers to draw erroneous conclusions...something must be done to remove it from circulation".
But the damage had already been done - C-68 had been enacted almost two years earlier.
Soon after the Justice Department lie was made public, RCMP Commissioner Murray began to backpedal. In testimony given on April 27, 1998 before the House of Commons Justice Committee, Murray called on Deputy Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli to explain the discrepancy between the RCMP's figure of 73 firearm-related crimes, and the 623 figure the Justice Department supplied to Parliament. When questioned on the matter, he said, "There is no disagreement between the RCMP and the Department of Justice...When we say 73...that refers specifically to the use of a firearm in the commission of the actual offense".
Zaccardelli added that the higher Justice Department figure was based on "a more liberal interpretation of the raw data".
Lorne Gunter, in a later column, elaborated on the Justice Department's unique "liberal interpretation": "When Mounties are investigating a crime, if they see a gun in the home or business they are searching, even a firearm safely stored and uninvolved in the crime, the Department of Justice's...bureaucrats count that as a 'firearm involved in a crime...' "
Gunter, calling the Justice Department's actions "disingenuous at best, and more likely deliberately dishonest", further pointed out: "...Canadians supported stricter gun controls because they feared becoming victims of gun crimes, and not because they feared police officers might catch a glimpse of a locked, unloaded duck gun in the performance of their day-to-day duties."
All this brings us to two lingering questions: Why have so many lies been told? And why has so much pressure been applied to sustain the lies? The answer to both: unless the majority of Canadians can be lulled into passive acceptance of the unprecedented governmental power grab, the resistance certain to follow might spread beyond Ottawa's ability to contain and defuse it.
In a New York Times article entitled "Western Canada is Up in Arms over Gun Control" Anthony DePalma writes, "The remarkable aspect is that thousands of normally dispassionate Canadians are proclaiming their intention to break the law...There's a terrific resentment here against registration, and the biggest reason for that is that people don't trust the government."
Just as the road to C-68 was paved with lies, so was the passage of NICS - with lies tailored to an American audience, instead. And, while complete gun registration will (probably) not be in effect here in the U.S. by the time C-68 is fully implemented on January 1, 2003, the intent behind NICS is exactly the same. It's just the time-frame that's different.
Dr. Paul Gallant practices Optometry in Wesley Hills, New York. Dr. Joanne Eisen practices dentistry in Old Bethpage, New York. Both are research associates with the Independence Institute, a civil liberties think tank in Golden Colorado, http://i2i.org.
Reprinted with permission from Guns & Ammo Magazine, April 2000.