Gun control: The answer to curb mass shootings?

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Allyson Beauregard
Rédacteur / Managing Editor


Allyson Beauregard
Rédacteur / Managing Editor

An online threat made from a Twitter account on May 21 rattled students and staff of Carleton University in Ottawa and prompted a continuing police investigation after the unknown poster wrote, “Tomorrow morning I will be taking many lives at Carleton University. Take this as a warning, if you go to campus you will be among the casualties.”
After an initial investigation, police determined the threat wasn’t credible, there was no risk to public safety and the campus opened as usual Tuesday morning. Police believe the threat came from within the U.S.
The incident occurred only three days after yet another school shooting in the U.S., this time in Santa Fe, Texas where ten people were killed. According to a CNN report, so far this year, there have been 22 school shootings in the US where at least one person was shot – about one a week!
Sadly, school shootings seem to be a reality in the US. According to a CNN analysis, between 2009 and May 21, 2018, the U.S. had 57 times (288) more school shootings than the other six G7 countries combined. Canada and France had two, and Germany had one, while the others had none. Even when considering population differences – the U.S. has about ten times more people than Canada—the difference is still massive.
The reality is similar for mass shootings in general. According to the 2016 study “Public Mass Shooters and Firearms: A Cross-National Study of 171 Countries”, there have been more public mass shootings in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world (90 between 1966 and 2012, whereas Canada has had under 25 in the last 50 years). While the U.S. has 5% of the world’s population, it represents 31% of all public mass shootings. Why?
According to the study, the biggest determinant is the availability of firearms. The U.S. has more guns than any other country in the world: nearly one for every American. Many Americans can legally own a gun before they can drink!
There is evidence that restricting firearms reduces mass shootings. In Australia between 1987 and 1996, there were four mass shootings and numerous domestic mass murders. After an attack in Port Arthur in 1996 where 35 people were killed, the nation passed gun control laws and a major buy-back program. As of 2016, there has yet to be another.
Yet Americans in general tend to favour more gun ownership after incidents. To paint a picture: when a child at a playground hits others with a stick, do we arm the other children with sticks as a response? No, we take the stick away and make sure all others are removed from the area!
Clearly, Canada’s much more extensive gun control laws can be credited as part of the reason we experience significantly less gun violence than our southern neighbours.
In a future issue:  is Québec’s newly-introduced gun registry an essential tool or an unnecessary expense?