The United States stands alone when it comes to gun violence. No other country comes close.
That’s not to say Canada is perfect.
In the U.S., we’ve just seen one of the most horrific school shootings in years, with the deaths of 19 children and two teachers, and another 17 people injured at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
It was at least the 30th shooting at an American K-12 school in the first five months of 2022.
There is no real comparison between Canadian and American gun violence. Although we have seen mass shootings, from 2017’s terrorist attack on worshippers at a Quebec City mosque, to the 1989 École Polytechnique massacre, these remain relatively rare.
In Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, gun laws have almost always been tightened following major mass shooting events. Only in the United States is the political will lacking to implement major reforms.
But that is no reason to pat ourselves on the back here in Canada.
We still have a gun problem. In fact, we have several overlapping gun problems, most of them related to organized crime.
There are guns smuggled in from the U.S. over the longest undefended border in the world. There are guns sold legally in Canada to “straw purchasers” with clean records, who can pass them along to criminal associates. There are guns that are modified to be more lethal, firing more rounds, their magazines holding more bullets.
These are the tricky problems of gun control, when you share a border with the United States. (That proximity may be responsible for another concern: Canadians who believe they have a constitutional right to bear arms.)
Gun control in Canada isn’t just a matter of making new laws, nor of enforcing them – although those are part of the solution.
It has to be a multi-tiered approach. We have to tackle the root causes of gang violence, including targeting their sources of revenue.
We also need to work with the United States and exert what influence we have to help change their gun culture. Because the U.S. is part of our gun problem, too.