We aren’t like the United States with its Second Amendment, nor do we have the level of gun violence per capita that they experience, but with a recent mass shooting in Canada, our government is making moves to try to show that they are doing more than paying lip service to the issue, but their choices are being heavily criticized. The problem is, I don’t see better solutions being put forward.
Note: I want to preface this by saying that I am not an expert in law, gun law, guns, or anything else pertaining to this subject. I am a concerned citizen hoping that cooler heads can prevail, that logic and data can win out, and that partisan politics can be put on the back burner as we deal with weapons affecting our society.
My Quick History with Guns
I grew up going hunting with my dad. I have enjoyed hunted venison meat my whole life. I was in Cadets and was able to shoot guns during my time there. I have some experience with guns, but all of it happening before adulthood. I still have an interest in shooting, especially on a range, but haven’t pursued it.
Everything I’ve seen online seems to be complaints. They don’t like what the Liberal government is doing and blame Trudeau directly. They talk about starting a civil war, dividing the country, fighting back with armed protests. The whole thing is ridiculous to me and the radicalization talk will do nothing but convince the media to create stories to prove that even more restrictions are needed. It also makes me feel a little sick to my stomach to see so many people willing to throw away their connection to Canada over gun control.
One of the biggest issues I see is the conflating of different issues. Bringing alcohol, vehicles, tobacco, cancer and other random things into the issue doesn’t do anything to move things forward. It confuses the issue and gives power to those that are more focused. Gun issues should be addressed through gun related data. It isn’t a competition where society/government can only deal with a single issue that tops the list of most deaths.
Also, giving up on anything changing for the better, no matter which side of the issue you are on, is also not beneficial. Our society leans towards being democratic and so through proper use of your voice, your efforts, you can help bring people towards a better understanding that may help swing things in one direction or another. We all also have to understand that as a democratic leaning country, we need to accept that we won’t always get the things we want as the majority rules.
Complaints about the direction our country takes are fine, but once you are done complaining, how about trying to learn more about what the other side is thinking, dissect it and then visualize a different path, and promote that? There are so many options going forward and it doesn’t have to be partisan, and it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
Banning Scary Weapons
Trudeau and his team are making a political move to ban certain guns. I understand the reasoning behind this action. Movies, television, and more have shown these guns to be more dangerous than other weaponry, and they can’t be seen as doing nothing when one of the mandates they campaigned and were elected on was more strict gun control.
Some people I know have called it “banning scary weapons” and that’s exactly what it is. It isn’t a solution as much as something to calm the fears of a certain group of people, and maybe that’s one part of this story that isn’t getting enough attention. Why are we scared of guns?
Maybe one issue that needs more support is reducing that fear through marketing, educating, and training? If our only source of gun information wasn’t in violent video games, action movies, and horror stories in the news, maybe there would be less fear and that would allow for more rational dialog on this topic?
My nephew-in-law was very proactive in this sense. He often invited people to the range to build up their confidence and understanding regarding guns. He even, using a toy, helped my wife learn a bit more about how guns work, safety procedures required, and more. He created a positive interaction in order to reduce fear.
Spending money towards these kinds of opportunities and making an understanding of guns similar in terms of numbers as understanding how to drive a car, could be beneficial if done right.
Central Gun Storage
One of the ideas proposed has been central gun storage. I thought this was a great idea. We could spend resources as a country protecting guns at ranges and at facilities across the country so that no guns need be stored at a private residence and anyone walking around carrying a gun that isn’t wearing a badge can easily be stopped and questioned because they are likely doing it illegally.
It could be treated like a safety deposit box, or a self-serve system, with your government ID being used to access the weapon that either has to remain on site using some geo-fencing tags, and/or allow for short period check-outs for specific purposes. We could record the person that checked out the weapon and have more insight into what’s happening with handguns and other weapons.
Then I read some criticisms of central gun storage and started to understand why that wouldn’t help the issues we are experiencing and only create a huge tax burden on the federal government while inconveniencing legal gun owners.
But maybe the idea isn’t all bad. Is there some version of this that could work and be beneficial? What is the goal of this kind of change? These are the kinds of discussions we should be having.
Increase CBSA Resources
The more research that I do regarding gun violence, the more I see that most of this is happening from guns illegally brought to Canada from the USA and elsewhere. Sure, there are some legal or registered guns being used but that is in a very small minority.
So if the data says that most gun violence is due to guns coming from other countries, then how can we address that specific issue? We might not be able to ever completely stop smuggling, but how can we make it more rare, more difficult, and more costly to those that are caught?
We have a federal department that deals with border transit called the Canadian Border Services Agency. With increased funding and a stronger mandate to reduce gun smuggling, maybe we could see a reduction in gun violence in Canada?
Limiting the supply of non-registered weapons in Canada might have directly affected the recent violence in Nova Scotia.
As a country, we should go where the data leads us. We need to be fair, even, and wise when enacting new restrictions. There will always be people on both sides of an issue that are unhappy with any change or any lack of change, but the constant is that the world changes and so the rules have to change with it. If cities are seeing increasing gun violence, we need to track down the sources of those guns, we need to track down the reasons for that violence, and we need to take measured approaches that solve the core of the issue. If poverty is creating an increase in gun violence, maybe we need more social supports. If passion/relationships are causing gun violence, then maybe we need better mental health supports.
I will also say that, as a citizen of Canada, I would like to see a further reduction in the number of guns owned by private citizens as, at least for me, it creates an increase in a feeling of safety and that feeling of safety improves my mental health and outlook. But I think education and data supported changes should be the goal over blanket laws that have already been shown to not fix the issues we, as a society, want to see dealt with.