Radio broadcaster and Toronto Sun columnist Jerry Agar says that instead of banning bullets in Toronto, we need to tackle the real root cause of crime and violence: fatherlessness. Poverty, Agar points out, is connected to missing fathers (and husbands): “money and employment are symptoms of a disease; lack of fathers.” Agar doesn’t state what he means by “advocate against teen motherhood and the irresponsible fathering (but not raising) of children” as a solution to the interconnected problems of violence, poverty, and fatherlessness. But at the very least, policy-makers and opinion-leaders (including journalists) need to stop ignoring the connection and lay down some moral blame. Moral suasion rather than laws will go some way to fixing the problem. We need our Dan Quayle was right  moment, as the United States is (once again — the first was the belated admission in the mid-1990s that the former vice president had a point that Murphy Brown was misleading). Recent studies (summarized and linked to here) note that children fare best on a range of indicators, including criminality, when raised in a stable household with a mother and father.

Banning bullets is a phony solution that wins headlines but not the cultural battle. It won’t stop violence, but it might get opportunistic politicians media coverage and votes. Citizens deserve real answers and that begins with speaking truthfully about the problem: guns don’t kill people, criminals kill people, and criminals are more likely to come from fatherless homes. That isn’t being judgemental — although we need to be more judgemental about these things — it is simply being observant about the root causes of crime. Eschewing judgementalism when it comes to creating anti-social and violent teens and young adults seems a recipe for disaster.