The news from the US this weekend was especially disturbing. First a gunman opened fire in an El Paso, TX Wal Mart crowded with back-to-school shoppers, killing 21 and injuring another 27, Then early Sunday morning another gunman opened fire outside a nightclub in Dayton, OH killing another 9 and wounding another 26. There was also a shooting at a Chicago playground that barely got any notice because there were only 3 killed. Only.
Almost immediately there was a meme that circulated across social media calling attention to how the US has a disproportionate number of mass shootings compared to the rest of the world. So far in 2019 the US has had 250 mass shootings compared to 1 in Canada. Let that sink in for a moment.
Then ask yourself, what is the difference?
Are people in Canada just nicer? (Well, perhaps, but that is another story!)
Is there a lower level of racism in the North? Not if you ask the Indigenous People.
Do people north of the border have a lower level of mental illness? Not at all!
So what about guns?
That is where there is a difference. Not in the number. Contrary to popular opinion, Canada does have a gun culture. Nearly one out of every 15 Canadians own a firearm. Shooting is more popular than hockey, football and skiing! There is a strong hunting community. In some places firearms are needed for protection—not from people but wildlife.
That is not where the difference lies!
Canada has a strong gun culture. The difference is that guns are well regulated. You can’t just go to a Wal Mart or a flea market and buy a gun. There is a process!
So what is it?
First you have to be over 18. You have to be old enough to be responsible.
You have to know what kind of weapon you want to purchase. There are three different labels that distinguish what type firearms you are allowed to buy.
“non-restricted” includes rifles and shotguns
“restricted” includes many handguns and semi-automatic rifles. These are generally the only available to sports shooters.
“prohibited” includes smaller handguns, automatic firearms and semi-automatic rifles.
Then there is the process. Everyone wanting to purchase a gun is required to take a Canadian Firearms Safety Course, where you will learn safety rules, how to operate different types of firearms. This course is intended to make sure you will be a safe and responsible gun owner. At the end of the course you must pass a test. If you do, then you will receive a certificate to submit to the federal police as a part of your license application.
You submit your application along with the fee and a photo. Then you wait for a background check, reference check and approval from your partner or spouse. If you pass all those you receive a license card which gives you permission to purchase a firearm, which you must keep with a trigger lock and/or keep inside a locked case or container.
The process may take 2 months.
Is that so egregious?
Do these regulations take away anyone’s right to “bear arms?”
Are these not worth the lives of those killed this weekend? Those killed every day?
Can we at least give them some consideration?
Or just wait till the next time, and pray it isn’t someone we love?