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What Canada Can Teach Us About Gun Control?

Updated: Mar 15

In America, gun violence, fear and stigma against firearms are sickeningly high. The problem's not as bad in Canada. What can we learn?


Gun control is one of the most controversial issues in the United States — and frankly, validity can be found on both sides. In my view, Canada does a superb job reconciling pro- and anti-gun interests in an effective series of gun control policies. Rather than inflaming polarized antagonisms, it synthesizes ideological interests into a promotion of public health. Sound too good to be true, or at least too good to be realistic for America? I don't think it is. 


American society would benefit greatly from a more structured sort of gun control. Of course, the major material benefit would be a reduction in gun violence and a corresponding diminishment in its psychic toll on the American people. But one major, oft-overlooked benefit would be a reduction in the negative stigma against firearms. Guns have a bad reputation in the US. With high rates of gun violence, Americans are prone to emotional extremes on firearms, either cursing them as Nixon did drugs or vehemently defending them from the periodic swells of public opinion.


Canada seems to take necessary precautions to avoid these issues. To own guns, Canadians have to go through an extensive, multi-month class. After the class comes to an end, a certified individual determines whether the aspiring gun owner is worthy. Over 40 percent of Canadians own guns, and they seem to do so without invoking the rampant stigma that plagues America.


Canada adopts a robust, standardized system of gun control that maintains gun ownership while reducing crime. In U.S., as of August 2023, for every 100,000 people, 10.89 die due to firearms. In Canada, the number is currently 2.26. Another study found that, in 2018, 251 Canadians died in shootings. In the U.S., the number was 39,740. The latter statistics might be less telling than the former due to population differences. Still, it's evident that Canada has far fewer problems with gun violence and controversy than the U.S., and this gives us ample reason to seriously consider adopting Canadian policies. 


The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author.


Sources


Allen, Mary. “Trends in Firearm-Related Violent Crime in Canada, 2009 to 2020.” Government of Canada, Statistics Canada, 27 May 2022, www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/85-002-x/2022001/article/00009-eng.htm.


Dazio, Stefanie, and Larry Fenn. “Mass Shootings in U.S. on a Record Pace in 2023 so Far.” PBS, 21 Apr. 2023, www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/mass-shootings-in-u-s-on-a-record-pace-in-2023-so-far.


Follman, Mark, et al. “US Mass Shootings, 1982–2021: Data from Mother Jones' Investigation.” Mother Jones, 28 Dec. 2012, www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/12/mass-shootings-mother-jones-full-data/. Accessed 8 Aug. 2023.


"Gun Deaths by Country 2023." World Population Review. https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/gun-deaths-by-countryAccessed 8 August 2023. 


Rose, Veronica. "Gun Control Legislation in Canada." Office of Legislative Research, 29 Sep. 1994, www.cga.ct.gov/PS94/rpt/olr/htm/94-R-0838.htm. Accessed 12 July 2023. 

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