Lethbridge, Alberta, is a nice place to visit … and apparently, a nice place to live if a low crime rate is a priority.
According to an article I saw in the Lethbridge Herald during my recent visit there, police reported incidents requiring use of force at less than half a percent of calls in 2016. That’s 30,799 calls for service, and just 115 requiring use of force. And only one of those instances required a subject to be hospitalized.
Those are impressive numbers for a city of about 100,000 people. The conclusion drawn by the crime report was “that sober and rational people are less likely to become involved with a confrontation with police resulting in a use of force by officers.”
Almost all the use-of-force incidents involved people who were perceived as being agitated, emotionally disturbed or intoxicated.
I talked to three Canadians at a local golf resort about the report, and they were not surprised by the findings. They told me that violence, and especially gun violence, is not a way of life for most folks north of the border. Newscasts and newspapers were not filled with stories about mass killings, drive-by shootings or other acts of violence. Sure, there is some gang activity and gun violence in larger cities such as Toronto, but it hardly goes to the level of Chicago or Detroit. In most other places in Canada, according to the golfers, people don’t bother to lock their doors.
As my wife, Vicki, and I were enjoying the sights and splendid weather in the Lethbridge area, former Sen. Larry Craig and wife, Suzanne, were on a cruise ship that included stops in Baltic nations where gun violence also is practically nonexistent. Craig, a board member of the National Rifle Association who has spent much of his public and private life standing up for Second Amendment rights, wouldn’t have much of a role to play in those countries, or Canada – where gun ownership is not a constitutional right.
As Craig sees it, it comes down to cultural differences between those countries and the United States, and it’s not limited to guns. Some European nations provide free health care and education, but tax rates can be as high as 75 percent, with value-added taxes on sales up to 25 percent. But people don’t complain.
“Within Europe and the old monarchies, there is a level of expectation from the citizenship,” Craig observed. “The attitude is that government is good and will take care of you.”
During a stop in Denmark, Craig ran into a man in his 60s who was giving a guided tour of the area, when the man spotted a limousine. The guided tour stopped.
“That looks like the queen’s car. It looks like you are going to see the queen,” the man said.
“My thought was, ‘well … this is nice.’ But this man was practically giddy. Seeing the queen absolutely made his day,” Craig said. “We have a very different culture. We denounced monarchy and bolted from it. We decided to establish ourselves as a free people and that government should play a small part in our lives. Along the way, we decided that if we’re going to be a free people, then we should be able to defend ourselves. The gun is an instrument of our defense.”
When placed in the wrong hands, the gun also can be viewed as a “freedom” curse. Cries ring out for gun control with every mass shooting, but nobody who is currently serving in Congress or ever has served has figured out a way to legislate against crazy.
Canada’s way around “crazy” is to pass strict gun laws and substantially eliminate guns as part of the country’s culture. One travel tip: If you’re visiting Canada, don’t bother trying to carry a gun across the border. And don’t fail to disclose possession of a gun. Jail time has a way of ruining a vacation.
Overall, I’ll take life in the United States over Canada any day. Vicki and I came across a Lethbridge real estate agent who recently moved there from Boise, and she confirmed that Boise was a far better place. We’ll take her word for it.
But a culture that has more emphasis on peace and tranquility over gun violence can’t be all bad.