THOMPSON: Why Canada feels safer than the US

Gun Rights

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There are lies…and then there are lies. A little white lie…“I’ll be ready in ten minutes”…is of little consequence even if you’re half an hour late. But some lies…“Everyone will be safer if more people have guns!”…are big lies…deadly lies.

One of the many aspects of Canada that I love…is the feeling of safety. On average, Canada loses about 1,300 people to gun deaths each year…homicides, suicides and accidents. Last year, there were 3,996 gun deaths – more than three times as many – in Texas alone. Across the entire U.S., 48,830 men, women and children died from gun shots in 2021…the most recent year of data tracking all gun deaths.

Just to be clear…Canada’s population is 39,566,248…the population of the U.S. is 334,690,308. So, the U.S. has roughly eight times as many people as Canada…which means we might expect about 10,500 gun deaths in the U.S. any given year if it was as safe as Canada. Again, the U.S. had almost 50,000 deaths from guns last year…and is on track to set another record this year.

The cultural difference between Canadians and Americans is dramatic when it comes to guns. In Canada, even one death isn’t acceptable and lawmakers here take actions to limit deaths…prohibiting, for example, more than 1,500 models of assault-style firearms three years ago. The U.S. does little to change its gun laws to protect its citizens…instead offering lots of “thoughts and prayers” when folks get shot.

There are more than 400 million guns in the U.S.…twice as many as just 20 years ago. Twenty years ago, AR-15-style rifles accounted for just two percent of gun sales…today they represent 25 percent of all U.S. gun sales.

Is there a positive correlation between the number of guns in the U.S. and gun deaths? Yes. There’s no equivocation…and unlike politicians the data don’t lie. Americans are less safe with every passing year…because there are more guns with every passing year.

By May 1 this year, 184 mass shootings claimed 248 dead and injured another 744 people. That’s about 1.5 mass shootings every day. A mass shooting is when four or more victims are shot or killed.

As of May 1, 13,959 people in America have died from gun violence…homicides, suicides and accidents. That’s 115 deaths every day. Some 578 deaths so far this year have been children and teenagers.

Who’s to blame? Well, let’s start with those who are most guilty…Republicans. There’s no question….it’s not debatable. Republicans take millions of dollars every year from those whose best interests are served when people buy more guns…the National Rifle Association (N.R.A.) and gun manufacturers like Smith & Wesson, Remington, Daniel Defense, Wilson Combat and Angstadt, among others.

Sen. Mitt Romney, a Republican from Utah, has made $13,647,676 since 2018…just from the N.R.A. Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican from N.C., has cashed in for $6,987,380 during his 18-year political career. Roy Blunt, a Republican Senator from Missouri, has made $4,555,722 from the N.R.A.

Do you think Republicans – who get almost 95 percent of N.R.A. donations – will ever vote for any bill that might curtail gun sales? Again, simply look at their record…the facts. There’s no kind way to say this, but that makes it no less true…Republicans have blood on the hands for making it easier for Americans to kill fellow Americans.

Recently in Texas, a man with an AR-15 rifle – angered by a neighbour who asked if he could not shoot his rifle so their baby could sleep – used that rifle to kill five people, including a nine-year-old child.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott couldn’t hide his venomous Republican nature when he announced “a $50,000 reward for a Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) top 10 fugitive who is in the country illegally and killed five illegal immigrants in a shooting Friday night in Cleveland, Texas.”

Like most Republicans, Gov. Abbott has a sliding scale for empathy, fairness and justice…using the words “illegally” and “illegal” – despite there inaccuracy – to rile his base…and make a human tragedy a mere political prop.

There are actions Americans could have taken decades ago…but resisted because of Republican lies…or to be more charitable…myths.

Americans increasingly – and incorrectly – believe all crime, including gun crime, is increasing. By 2019, some 59 percent of Americans believed that gun murder was higher than it was 25 years ago…despite the fact that the gun homicide rate had roughly halved during that time.

The most widespread myth is that we “need more good guys with guns to counter bad guys with guns.” How do you tell? A guy shooting at a Walmart…is he wearing a white hat? Do you call out….“Are you a good guy with a gun?”

Republicans insist that if we just give teachers guns…children will be safer in schools. There is no evidence – none – that schools are safer with more guns. In fact, it’s counter-intuitive. Besides, the shootings at Parkland, Uvalde and Columbine, among others, there were plenty of guns…and they didn’t help.

However, Republicans – who, again, get paid by the N.R.A. and gun manufacturers – know that arming teachers increases gun sales…there are 115,000 schools in America…do the math.

Americans should do what Canada and other nations who care about it citizens do. Ban weapons of war…semi-automatic rifles with high-capacity magazines. Increase the age to buy guns to 21, and institute a buy-back program.

Australians spent $500 million to buy back almost 600,000 guns in the 1990s. The gun homicide rate dropped 42 percent and the gun suicide rate fell 58 percent.

Background checks need to be better…more uniform from state to state. Only licensed gun dealers have to perform these checks…individuals and many online retailers don’t. About 22 percent of the guns sold in the U.S. pass to owners without a background check. That needs to change.

Federal law doesn’t keep guns out of the hands of those who are not married, do not live with their partner or do not share child custody. About 840 women die each year from domestic abusers who have guns.

More expansive “Red Flag” laws would allow someone to petition for a court order to take guns from a high-risk individual. Concrete data show such laws are effective: California averted 21 potential mass shootings in 2019 with such a law.

Sadly, the great majority of Republicans don’t support any of these measures. That’s why guns – not any disease – are the number one killer of children in the U.S., and why as an adult you’re much more likely to be shot in the U.S. than Canada.

Frankly, I don’t know what it will take to convince American Republican politicians. Clearly, money counts more than the safety of citizens…even children.

— Don Thompson, an American awaiting Canadian citizenship, lives in Vernon and in Florida. In a career that spans more than 40 years, Don has been a working journalist, a speechwriter and the CEO of an advertising and public relations firm. A passionate and compassionate man, he loves the written word as much as fine dinners with great wines.

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News from © iNFOnews, 2023


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