Maverick Lynes, Staff Writer
The tragic event that took place Feb. 14, 2018 in Parkland, FL has yet again sprung the gun control debate among American citizens. The school shooting was carried out with an AR-15 assault rifle and left 17 dead and 15 injured.
The shooting left America in a familiar debate regarding gun control. Many different calls to actions have been made. Nonetheless, something has to be done to prevent these tragic events from occurring as often as they do.
As a Canadian, I reverted to the laws in my home country in search for possible answers why these events happen more often in America. In reality, all the guns that America’s mass shootings occurred with were carried out by firearms that are also available for purchase in Canada. However, they are all considered to be “restricted firearms” under Canadian law.
With that being said, Canada does have a strict process to purchase a weapon. To buy a firearm in Canada you first have to take a firearm safety course. Then you apply for a possession license in which you are screened by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) who search for possible red flags, such as a criminal record or mental health issues.
In Canada, the purchase of a firearm is not as closely related to self-defence as it is in America. With that being said, a good portion of Americans purchase guns strictly for sport, which is also legal in Canada.
Even with the different gun control laws in Canada, I do not know what they could have done to prevent America’s worst mass shootings. If you were to put Canadian gun laws with American population and society, would that limit mass shootings? Probably. However, I cannot confidently say that they would be abolished.
One reality is that guns can be obtained illegally in which no laws could help. On the other hand, there are many instances in which the shooter purchased their weapons legally, where if they were to attempt to obtain in Canada they would have been declined.
For example, the Virginia Polytechnic Institute massacre on Apr. 16, 2007 which left 32 dead, was carried out by Seung-Hui Cho. Cho showed an explicit history of mental health issues and showed signs of violence. For those reasons, Cho would have been denied a possession license in Canada. Thus would have prevented him from purchasing the two restricted firearms he used in the shooting. According to the National Post, in 2016 there were 402,138 possession licenses granted to Canadians, the program declined 336 for reasons that were a match to the same mental health issues Cho had.
However, in contrast to America’s deadliest mass shooting in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, 2017, which left 58 dead, Canadian laws would not have prevented it. The perpetrator, Stephen Paddock had no criminal history and he also had no apparent signs of mental health issues. This means that Canadian gun laws would have been a bump in the road, but it would not have had the power to prevent it.
Everyone can agree that something needs to change, we just do not agree on what specifically needs to change. While some people are calling for gun control, others are looking for more support for mental health. Then there is also the opinion of more guns for people to protect themselves. There is not one solution that will solve the problem that is currently plaguing the United States; it comes down to an abundance of factors.
There is something about the tragic events in Florida this month that gives the feeling that change is coming. High school students from all over the country are standing up for their right to protection, and their persistence may be what sparks change.