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“A Useful Point Of Comparison”: With This Statistic, Canada Demonstrates What A Difference Gun Control Can Make

No mainstream American politician would ever propose to get rid of all guns. But what might happen if we seriously approached the issues of gun safety, licensing, and registration?

As a country that allows private gun ownership and also has a robust hunting culture, Canada offers a useful point of comparison with the United States. However, the two countries are quite different in terms of their gun control laws, and, as it happens, their gun murder rates: The United States has a whopping 89 firearms per 100 residents, the number-one rank in the world, while Canada’s guns are at 31 firearms per 100 people, putting it in the 13th place globally. The country also has a comprehensive system of gun licensing — with citizens required to take a safety course if they want to own and operate a gun, which is, after all, a dangerous piece of machinery.

Under Canada’s laws, handguns have been registered since 1934. Other changes in gun policy have occurred over the decades, including the creation in the 1970s of the Firearms Acquisition License, now known as a Possession and Acquisition License (PAL), which is a permit needed in order to purchase a gun. And licenses to carry guns in Canada are quite rare.

A centralized system of issuing gun licenses began in the late 1980s and early 1990s, as part of a wave of gun control legislation brought forward by both the Conservative and Liberal parties. When the latter party came into office in 1993, much of the implementation became their task — and the new registration of long guns became a wedge issue in rural areas, particularly in western Canada where the Conservative Party would grow to dominate.

In 2012, under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the Conservative Party repealed the long gun registry and destroyed the records that had been amassed from it — but there are still records on “restricted” and “prohibited” guns, generally various forms of handguns and/or automatic weapons. (As the Royal Canadian Mounted Police makes very clear, the long gun registry repeal “does not change the requirement for all individuals to hold a licensee in order to possess a firearm.”) And not even the Conservatives would propose getting rid of the the handgun registry, safety courses, or gun licenses as they now exist.

So what difference, if any, might be gleaned from Canada’s focus on gun safety and efforts to keep weapons out of the wrong hands?

To start with a baseline, the United States has a population roughly nine times that of Canada, according to the most up-to-date figures from the U.S. Census Bureau and its northern counterpart, Statistics Canada.

In Canada in 2013, the most recent year for which numbers have been posted by Statistics Canada, there were a total of 505 homicides — which would be proportional to about 4,534 homicides in the United States.

But in the United States, according to the FBI, there were 12,253 homicides in 2013 — a factor of 2.9 times the Canadian equivalent.

Now let’s dig in a little further and look at the impact that gun violence might be having on these numbers. In the U.S. figures, 8,454 of these homicides — 69 percent — were committed with firearms, compared to only 26 percent in Canada — 131, or a U.S. equivalent of 1,179, which is less than 1/7th of America’s gun killings.

Of the non-gun killings — with various methods including stabbings, beatings, fire, poisoning, and so on — here the numbers are obviously much closer. The United States had 3,799 in 2013, while Canada had 374 — which would correspond to 3,366 in the United States, giving the U.S. a figure only 13 percent greater than Canada’s.

Or to put it more simply: Nearly the entire difference in the homicide numbers between the United States and Canada comes from guns.

But to quote the late, great American comedian Bill Hicks: “But there’s no connection — and you’d be a fool and a communist to make one — there’s no connection between having a gun and shooting someone with it, and not having a gun and not shooting someone.”

 

By: Eric Kleefeld, The National Memo, October 7, 2015

October 8, 2015 Posted by | Canada, Gun Control, United States | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“That Other Country, Right Or Wrong”: Republicans Are Saying They Are More Solicitous Of Israel’s Interests Than America’s

There’s a new Bloomberg poll out that shows the strange behavior of Republican politicians towards Benjamin Netanyahu and everything having to do with Israel is in fact a pretty good reflection of the GOP rank-and-file’s proclivities.

Yes, the poll shows the depth of the GOP base’s antipathy towards Barack Obama, with Republicans saying they are more sympathetic to Netanyahu than to Obama by a 67/16 margin.

But here’s the most startling question and answer: given the choice of agreeing that “Israel is an ally but we should pursue America’s interests when we disagree with them,” or that “Israel is an important ally, the only democracy in the region, and we should support it even if our interests diverge,” Republicans choose the latter proposition by a 67/30 margin. That’s with no mention of Obama or any particular dispute, mind you.

Now I guess the word “support” in this context is a bit ambiguous. But it sure appears Republicans are saying they are more solicitous of Israel’s interests than America’s.

I find that hard to square with self-defined patriotism, frankly. You can have all sorts of disagreements over what constitutes your country’s interests, of course. But flatly asserting they should be subordinated to another country’s interests is hard to accept from people who have a bad habit of thinking of themselves as the only real Americans.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, April, 15, 2015

April 16, 2015 Posted by | Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel, Republicans, United States | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“At What Cost Victory”: Bibi’s Ugly Win Will Harm Israel

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu won a big election Tuesday, but he won ugly by staking out a new position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that is likely to harm his nation in the months ahead.

A reckoning is coming—faster than expected—for Netanyahu, his Likud Party and maybe even for the State of Israel itself.

Complete returns showed that Netanyahu’s Likud Party won 29 seats in the Knesset to 24 seats for the Zionist Union (formerly Labor) Party headed by Isaac Herzog, who ran a more spirited campaign than expected but almost certainly fell short of the support necessary to form a government.

Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin, whose job consists mostly of presiding over elections, said not long after the polls closed that he wants a coalition government and has given Netanyahu, Herzog and the other party leaders a couple of days to engage in a frenzy of (largely unconsummated) deal-making. But Herzog’s parliamentary math problem got worse as the evening wore on, and it’s hard to see where he finds the “mandates” (seats) to prevail.

One big surprise was the performance of the Joint List, a coalition of usually fractious Arab parties that won 13 seats and finished third, far better than Arab Israelis ever have in the past. But their influence will be limited because Arab parties traditionally refuse to join the government so as to avoid being complicit in official Israeli policy that they loathe.

As the returns came in, the center-left and other critics of Netanyahu held out hope that Moshe Kahlon—whose center-right Kulanu Party won 10 seats—would nurse his anger at Netanyahu (in whose government he once served) and side with Zionist Union. But even that would be unlikely to yield enough seats to oust Netanyahu. The small religious parties that often hold the balance of power faded amid Bibi’s last-minute panicky bid for right-wing votes.

That panic had a purpose. Netanyahu came back from the dead by doing something politicians almost never do—predicting his own defeat. He told base voters that he would lose if they didn’t abandon far-right-winger Naftali Bennett’s Habayit Hayeudi Party and flock back to Likud. Instead of trying to hide his desperation, he flaunted (or contrived) it, to great political effect, winning by several seats more than expected.

Like George W. Bush in his 2004 reelection campaign against John Kerry in the aftermath of 9/11, Netanyahu wielded security issues as a polarizing political weapon, overcoming personal unpopularity and a mediocre economic record with a campaign based largely on fear. It worked.

But at what cost? In the days before the election, Netanyahu accused the opposition of being manipulated by Americans, insulted Arabs for simply voting, doubled down on support for settlements in East Jerusalem and—most significantly—said there would be no Palestinian state on his watch, thereby confirming a view that critics always suspected he harbored.

Cynical about their politicians, some Israeli pundits predicted that Netanyahu would slip away from his new line, just as he this week repudiated his famous 2009 speech at Bar Ilan University in which he proclaimed, “Let us make peace,” and endorsed a two-state solution.

Bibi can try, but Monday’s comment set his feet in cement. “I think that anyone who moves to establish a Palestinian state and evacuate territory gives territory away to radical Islamist attacks against Israel,” Netanyahu told a website owned by his most generous supporter, American casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson. Should he go back on this pledge, his right-wing supporters would desert him and he would be forced to call another election next year that he would likely lose.

Netanyahu knows that intransigence on the Palestinians is harmful to his purported security priority—confronting a nuclear Iran. He knows that Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey, and other countries can’t ally with Israel against Iran until he makes peace with the Palestinians. But he was willing to do what it takes to win.

Now the rest of the world will do what it takes to punish his government. That means that the “BDS” movement (Boycotts, Divestment, Sanctions) will likely move from the (sometimes anti-Semitic) fringe closer to the center of the debate on college campuses and in international forums. As the Palestinians pursue their case globally with more finesse than they once had, the Israeli policy—shorn of efforts to achieve peace—will look increasingly illegitimate.

And Bibi and Likud might be in for a rude shock at the United Nations. On Tuesday, moderate Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told CNN that it was “hard to imagine” there would be no consequences from Netanyahu’s new one-state views.

Bibi has placed all his chips on the Republican Congress, which has no say over how the U.S. votes in the U.N. Schiff—who often reflects the view of the White House—hinted that the Obama administration might consider selectively lifting the American veto in the Security Council that has protected Israel for more than six decades.

While the U.S. will no doubt continue to veto the most obnoxious U.N. resolutions, others (like those based on comments of U.S. officials about the need for a two-state solution) are now more likely to pass with the tacit support of the U.S., opening a new chapter in international pressure on Israel.

Beset by European boycotts, rebuked by international tribunals, estranged from the president of the United States—it’s not a pretty picture of the fate of America’s closest ally in the region.

But that might be the fallout from the most bruising and consequential Israeli election in many years.

 

By: Jonathan Alter, The Daily Beast, March 18, 2015

March 19, 2015 Posted by | Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel, United States | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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