Canada Took Two Weeks to Ban Assault Weapons, So Why Can’t We? (Video)

Two weeks.

That’s all it took for Canada to ban assault-style firearms two weeks after the country suffered its worst mass shooting in history.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pronounced:

“These weapons were designed for one purpose and one purpose only: to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time. There is no use and no place for such weapons in Canada. Effective immediately, it is no longer permitted to buy, sell, transport, import or use military-grade assault weapons in this country.”

We can imagine hearing this from an American president.

We can only imagine.

Trudeau also said something we also only imagine:

“Canadians need more than thoughts and prayers.”

Here we are, nearly halfway through 2020, and the United States of America has experienced 99 mass shootings as of this writing.

Image credit: gunviolencearchive.org

There have been, to date, 13,564 gun deaths of all causes.

Image credit: gunviolencearchive.org

As the nation contends with the mess it is making of handling the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, we remain one of the most violent nations on the planet.

Knowing our neighbor to the north acted swiftly even while dealing with the same global pandemic with which every other country is dealing, might there be a chance we too will, again, ban assault weapons?

In her book This Changes Everything, author and activist Naomi Klein argues the reason the United States fails to adequately address climate change is because of the obscene amounts of money fossil fuel companies pump into lawmakers’ (mostly Republican) campaigns.

It’s no different when it comes to guns.

Unless we effectively cut off the revenue pouring out of the gun lobby into Washington, we should expect gun violence to continue being a regular staple of American culture.

Similar to how we failed numerous times to abolish slavery until we ripped ourselves apart in civil war, similar to how we failed to grant African Americans the right to vote and civil rights until the Civil Rights Movement forced President Lyndon Johnson to codify them into law, we will continue kicking the proverbial can down the road until…

When?

20 elementary school children and six adults were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.

50 night club patrons were killed in Orlando, Fla. in 2016.

59 country music fans were murdered from a hotel window in Las Vegas in 2017.

17 students and staff were slaughtered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. in 2018.

Virginia Beach.

Virginia Tech.

Sutherland Springs.

Aurora.

Pittsburgh.

Since the Sandy Hook shooting, there have been at least 2,440 mass shootings that have killed 2,752 and wounded 10,159.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 39,000 people died of gun-related injuries in 2016.

2018 saw the highest gun-related deaths in nearly four decades–40,000.

By the beginning of last June–153 days into the year–there had been 156 mass shootings.

Although statistically mass shootings constitute a fraction of America’s more than 32,000 firearm deaths every year, the U.S. outpaces other developed countries in gun deaths.

Awash in guns with the weakest gun laws on the planet, the United States–with 4.29% of the world’s population–outpaces every other country in gun-related deaths.

In America, guns kill more than six people per 100,000 citizens.

Canada also has those who trot out the defeatist gun lobby-fueled fallacy that “Taking firearms away from law-abiding citizens does nothing to stop dangerous criminals who obtain their guns illegally.”

Yet we have the facts to disprove that.

Pedal that lie to Australia after it suffered its worst mass shooting back in 1996.

After the Port Arthur Massacre, Australia passed legislation to require licenses to own virtually any type of gun and regulate semiautomatic pistols and rifles as automatic ones.

To quote author and progressive talk show host Thom Hartmann in his book The Hidden History of Gun and the Second Amendment:

“They also put into place a series of national amnesty and gun-buyback programs, which pulled hundreds of thousands of now-illegal guns out of circulation in that country, while appropriately compensating former gun owners.

“Since the implementation of these laws in 1996, Australia has had only one mass shooting incident, and that was relatively small. In the first years after the laws took place, firearm-related deaths in Australia fell by well over 40 percent, with suicides dropping by 77 percent.

“Every other developed or developing country in the world has more stringent gun-control laws than the United States.”  

Pedal the lie to New Zealand after it banned most semiautomatic weapons and assault rifles after just one mass shooting last April.

We can say we’re exceptional in this.

Canada has universal healthcare and now an assault weapons ban.

We’ve got neither.

We should have both.

Image credit: us.anygator.com

Ted Millar is writer and teacher. His work has been in featured in myriad literary journals, including Better Than Starbucks, The Broke Bohemian, Straight Forward Poetry, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices Project. He is also a contributor to Op-Ed News, Liberal Nation Rising, and Zoedune.