Making it easy to kill a lot of people
By Cazzy Lewchuk, Opinions Editor
Tragedy struck Quebec City on January 29 when a shooter murdered six people at the Islamic Cultural Centre. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called it a terrorist attack, and the suspect was allegedly motivated by extreme white supremacist values. This attack was specifically carried out to suit an anti-Muslim agenda.
There’s no easy answer for how to prevent these situations. Every mass killing is slightly different, and can be carried out through many methods—but the majority of them, particularly in the US and Canada, have been done with guns. The Quebec City shooter used a pistol and rifle in the attack, both of which are legal to own in Canada. Our gun laws are stricter than in the US, and a lot fewer people own guns, but it’s still incredibly easy to obtain as many firearms as you want in Canada. All that’s required is that the owner take a one-day course on gun safety, then register each weapon. Many types of guns are illegal but can still be found on the black market, and the legal kinds are still very much fatal.
Some shootings (particularly within law enforcement) involve legitimate defence of one’s own body or of a victim, but many needless and illegal deaths and injuries occur. Over 500 people die via bullets in Canada annually. Many of these are suicides, but 170 of those deaths are at the hands (and from the guns) of others.
Of course, guns and gun culture are enjoyed responsibly and legally by millions of Canadians, most of whom wish to use them for recreational target practice, hunting, and defence. Canada has about 30 guns for every 100 citizens (much less than our neighbours, who have 112 firearms for every 100 citizens). In fact, businessman and Conservative leader hopeful Kevin O’Leary posted a video on his Twitter of him shooting semi-automatic weapons at a range. He happened to post it the same day as the funeral held for victims of the Quebec shooting. While he removed it and apologized for the poor timing, it’s clear he’s a fan of firearms.
I firmly believe most gun owners are non-dangerous, law-abiding citizens, and while there’s nothing in our constitution to prevent it, I don’t support a blanket ban on all guns. However, something needs to be done. If the Quebec City killer was denied access to a gun, his six victims may be alive today. He would’ve still had dangerous ideas that would require intervention, and he may have still gone on a killing spree with some other weapon, such as a crossbow or a knife. Still, this massacre was carried out partially because the perpetrator was easily able to buy a machine designed for killing people. And it’s not just murders; studies from other countries demonstrate fewer suicides occur when gun access is limited. Almost anyone can buy one of these machines in Canada, and we should remember that when another innocent Canadian dies from the pulling of a trigger. Maybe it’s time to re-examine our standards, and take a cue from other countries.