If you try to quit smoking, it would be silly to pretend that cigarettes do not exist.
In the words of one reformed smoker, "you need to have a cigarette in your hand and simply not want to smoke it."
It is from this vantage that Canadians look to our southerly neighbor, the us, and its ongoing battle to contain its increasingly violent society.
In a recent speech at the University of Michigan, Attorney General Janet Reno defended strengthening relatively lax gun control laws.
Chicago, explained Reno, is a city comparative in size to Toronto. Both receive generally the same media sources, but Chicago experienced 300 times more gun-related deaths than Toronto over the same three year period. Reno's reason: availability of guns.
Not to be glib, but Reno cannot see the forest for the trees. If Reno researched a little further, she would have discovered that Toronto is a city full of Canadians.
Why are there fewer guns in Toronto? True, it is harder to legally obtain a gun in Canada, but most guns used in crimes are not legally purchased. Considering the world's longest unprotected border resides to our south, you'd think it wouldn't be too hard to arm the populace.
In Canada, however, there is neither the promotion nor the widespread acceptance of guns you find south of our border.
This is not to say that all Americans are gun-toting lunatics. Of course they're not. It is the small, but strong money-toting gun lobby that is geometrically opposed to gun control. They obtain an enormous amount of government and media attention.
The us is a country with a solid foundation of paranoia. The gun lobby perpetuates the myths of rising violent crime, which has been falling according to the FBI (and almost every other law enforcement agency in the us). This paranoia, over property and person, against thieves and strangers, acts as a dictator in government policy making. A recent anti-carjacking law in Louisiana all but suggests you shoot people who approach your car after dark.
How could a government go to its citizens with a gun control law after sending such contradictory messages?
Effort upon Effort is made is us law and policy which only coats the rotten core with gloss; digging to the root of the problem is something else. Real gun control will only be effective when American decision-makers realize that even when "good guys" kill "bad guys," the best case scenario has not occurred.
Shortly after the Columbine shootings, the gun lobby suggested teachers carry guns to prevent a wayward student from racking up a high body-count. The idea of using teachers in this capacity is repugnant.
The acquittal of media in violent crimes is heartening, but Reno fails to see that the real problem with guns in the us is that people are far too willing to use them.
Does gun control lead to a greater respect for human life or does this respect for life lead to gun control? Does it matter?
Either is a lofty goal.