According to the RCMP website, there are just under two million guns currently registered in Canada, 911,789 of which are either restricted or prohibited weapons (semi-automatic, automatic and various types of handguns).
In a Washington Post article, it stated that in 2012 there were 30.8 guns for every 100 Canadian residents.
Nearly 262,000 of those firearms are in Alberta, or 7,177 for every 100,000 Albertans. There are 19,698 guns for every 100,000 Yukon residents and 14,249 for every 100,000 Newfoundlanders.
In 2014, the RCMP refused 810 firearm applications.
In the U.S., there are an estimated 290 million guns, or 88.8 for every 100 people. Broken down to households, the latest General Social Survey found that 32 per cent of Americans either own a gun or live with someone who owns a gun…in other words, a gun can be found in 32 per cent of households in the U.S.
Following another tragic shooting spree in the U.S. last Thursday in Oregon, the chatter will surely continue from many south of the border and around the world asking why the U.S. doesn’t just simply get rid of guns, or, a more reasonable approach, make it more difficult for people to get a firearm.
One tweet, presumably by an Australian, posed that very question, asking ‘how many massacres it will take in the U.S. for them to do what Australia did’ after its own shooting, the Port Arthur massacre in 1996 that saw 35 people killed and 23 wounded. Australia banned guns and even had a government buy-back program to get guns out of the hands of its residents.
People who say that guns are not to blame for these mass killings are correct in one way and mistaken in another. No, guns don’t kill, people do, but it’s much easier for someone to murder multiple people when they have easy access to deadly weapons. But the argument to get rid of the guns is shortsighted and doesn’t address the reason why more and more people are picking up a weapon and killing people before turning the gun on themselves. What that ‘real reason’ is is the big question that desperately needs to be answered, and likely isn’t a solitary thing people could point to.
Proof that guns don’t kill and that people do can be found in many places in the world…right here in Canada, and in Switzerland.
The Swiss love their guns. According to a Time magazine article, gun ownership in Switzerland is ‘rooted in patriotic duty and ingrained in the national identity,’ and that there is a ‘long held belief that enemies could invade.’
Pro-Tell, a gun lobby group in Switzerland, has said, “We will never change our attitude about the responsible use of weapons by law-abiding citizens.”
It’s common in Switzerland for youngsters around the age of 12 to become a member of a gun club, where they learn to operate and fire a weapon.
There is an estimated four million guns in Switzerland, or nearly one for every two residents.
And yes, semi-automatic weapons are legal in Switzerland.
If you’re thinking all this sounds very American, you’d be correct.
In recent history, the Swiss have seen one mass shooting, which occurred in 2001 and resulted in the death of 14 people.
In Canada, there was the Montreal Ecole Polytechique shooting in 1989, Concordia University in 1992 and Vernon, B.C. in 1996. More recently, there was the 2014 Moncton shooting, where three officers lost their lives. Australia, even after banning guns, has seen gun-related killings – the Monash University shooting (2002); the Hectorville siege (2011); and the Hunt family murder (2014).
Nothing, however, compares to the U.S. when it comes to frequency and scale of gun-related deaths.
So what is causing this?
People in Canada, Switzerland and other countries where firearms are permitted are exposed to the same type of media outlets, video games, music, movies, books, images and other forms of entertainment as Americans are.
It is not simply access to guns that causes people to perform these horrific acts of cowardice – many people around the world have access to firearms – it’s much deeper than that.
Does the U.S. need to make it more difficult for people to acquire firearms? Desperately, and that’s the first of three steps to a safer America.
Despite misconceptions of many around the world, the vast majority of Americans want stiffer gun control – 88 per cent of Democrats and 79 per cent of Republicans, according to a Pew Research Center poll.
Most states don’t even require a permit, licence or registration of a weapon, which is absolutely ridiculous, and if you buy a gun at a private show, you don’t even require a background check, which is even more ridiculous.
The next step is to better address mental illness and not sell weapons to those who suffer from it, which was the case with the recent Oregon shooting.
The same Pew poll shows that 81 per cent of Republicans and 79 per cent of Democrats favour laws that would prevent the mentally ill from getting a gun – what on Earth is going on in the heads of those who would not approve such a law?
The final step is to recognize that gun ownership should no longer to be a ‘right,’ it should be a privilege, much like driving a car is.
When you live by a ‘rights-driven’ mentality, you tend to lose touch with your responsibility, and gun owners need to be responsible…it’s not a toy…it’s not a game…it’s not a joke…and it should not be a ‘right.’
All this taken into account, people need to stop blaming the tool and start blaming the operator of that tool. It is a disservice to the victims to minimize this issue by not holding people accountable for their actions.