The latest mass shooting in the United States has shown perhaps Canada is doing something right when it comes to how it handles its firearms.
The latest tragedy involving the United States’ gun culture had a shooter at Umpqua Community College in Oregon leave 13 dead and injure at least 20 more.
Whatever your politics are in North America on gun control, having our neighbours to the south have a mass shooting (four or more gunshot victims, not including the shooter) being averaged at nearly one a day for 2015 (264 in 274 days, Rolling Stone), it speaks in loud volumes there is a problem that is simply not going away.
While Canada had done away with its gun registry, its gun laws are way more strict as compared to its American counterparts. A Council on Foreign Affairs publication from June 2015 showcased the United States’ gun legislation and safeguards compared not only to Canada, but to Australia, Israel, the United Kingdom, Norway and Japan. Again, it paints a picture of America’s obsession with guns. Almost three times more ownership of firearms per 100 people than the next nearest country and seven times the number of firearm homicides per 100,000 people than the next closest country.
As of 2015, there were no federal laws banning semiautomatic assault weapons, military-style .50 caliber rifles, handguns, or large-capacity ammunition magazines, which can increase the potential lethality of a given firearm. There was a federal prohibition on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines between 1994 and 2004, but Congress allowed these restrictions to expire.
As gun enthusiasts and the NRA continue to scream from the rooftops after yet another mass shooting, that it is the human being and not the gun that is the problem, their logic tends it be flawed. If having everyone armed would have helped prevent or lessen the aftermath of mass or singular homicides by gunfire, would you not have fewer homicides per capita of any developed nation if your gun ownership is already three times the rate of your closest developed country?
The United States seems to have a dangerous mix that hopefully never make its way into Canada. One is an obsession with its nation’s history, which in itself is to be applauded, but mix it with fear and paranoia and disaster can ensue.
Anytime there is any talk of restricting gun access in any form, the drum continues to get beat of the Second Amendment under the Constitution in the United States, with the right to bare arms. Holding onto that notion tight, it shows the difference between Canada and the U.S. when it comes to guns. To own a gun in Canada, residents must take a safety course and pass both a written and a practical exam. Residents have to register restricted firearms, such as handguns and automatic weapons, with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s Canadian Firearms Program. In the U.S., licence and registration laws vary from states to state, often with no such requirements. There is no mandatory course or exam.
Canada requires a background check that focuses on mental health and addiction. Agents are required to inform an applicant’s spouse or family before granting a license. The U.S. requires a federal background check for all those buying guns from licensed dealers but does not require one in private transactions such as at gun shows, a huge loophole effectively allowing anyone, including convicted felons, to purchase firearms without a background check.
But many people who lean on their Second Amendment rights in the United States also have a heightened sense of fear that bad things lurk around the corner if they do not arm themselves. A tyrannical government that will enslave its people, terrorists from ISIS bent on blowing up the world, or that sketchy fellow that is itching to break into your home and steal your hard-earned possessions or ravish your daughter.
Bad things happen in the world, no doubt about it, but not at the rate main stream fear mongers would lead you to believe, at least in the U.S. From 2004 to 2013, 316,545 people died by firearms on U.S. soil. According to the U.S. State Department, the number of U.S. citizens killed overseas and domestically on home soil as a result of incidents of terrorism from 2004 to 2013 was 313. Owning a gun has been linked to higher risks of homicide, suicide and accidental death by gun. For every time a gun is used in self-defense in the home, there are seven assaults or murders, 11 suicide attempts and four accidents involving guns in or around a home (motherjones.com). Many who defend their Second Amendment rights in the U.S., cast the other amendments aside that are assured under the same Constitution in the name of ‘national security’, picking and choosing which constitutional rights are to be upheld.
The United States seems to have an overriding mentality that is lagging behind not only Canada, but the rest of the developed world when it comes to guns.
People should have rights to one, but with its destructive power, comes a responsibility attached to it, a responsibility that needs difference-making checks and balances attached to them.