Canadian Newspaper Readers Continue to Debate Front-Page Wraparound Ad for Local Gun Store

EIC Paul Berton writes: 'For every argument, there is a counter argument.'

Among the “Door Crasher” specials: a scoped rifle and a Sig Sauer 1911-22 handgun. The front-page wraparound ad for a local gun store ran in the Aug. 10 issue of the TorStar-owned Hamilton Spectator and days later, the blowback is still being shared:

I was saddened to see The Spec advertising handguns on the front insert of Thursday’s paper. Unlike rifles used for hunting, there is only one practical purpose for a handgun and that is to kill people. As a paper that consistently covers the gun and gang violence in our city, it is irresponsible to run such an ad. Please consider adopting a policy that prohibits selling ads for handguns.

Randell Neudorf, Hamilton

Over the weekend, the paper’s editor in chief Paul Berton responded to the outcry. He suggested there would be no such debate if the ad had run in a U.S. newspaper and made some solid comparative arguments:

Stabbings are responsible for more homicides in Canada than anything else. Fatal car accidents and drownings are more common than shooting deaths. Shall we stop accepting ads for knives, cars and swimming pools?

Television today is an appalling spectacle of violence. So-called crime scene investigation programs treat dead human bodies with a casual informality that makes me cringe, but we seem to tolerate, even celebrate these shows.

Berton is so right about those CSI-type shows. And… For TV crime shows set in Canada, there are these notable details: it takes six months to a year to get ownership approval; the process includes two government-sanctioned courses, criminal record checks, reference checks, and more. Across Canada, handguns are registered and tracked by serial number.

Constructively, the Spectator has followed with an online poll, asking its readers for feedback about whether it should accept these types of ads. At press time, 50.7% said Never, 5.3% voted In Some Circumstances and 44% opted for Why Not.

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