A trigger warning for Canada

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Relaxing Canadian gun control laws and increasing access to lethal weaponry is wading into unsafe waters.

On October 1, a mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon ended 10 lives.

The national and international response of outrage regarding the United States’ lack of gun control legislation is a familiar narrative. This year, the United States has been rocked by 294 mass shootings, each with four or more victims injured or killed. 

It’s statistically likely that in the two-day turnaround between the first draft and publication of this article, there will be another. 

In Canada, with mass shooting fatality rates of only 0.01 per 100,000 people, and strict regulations around the ownership of firearms, we often feel invincible from gun violence.

However, Canada is currently playing a dangerous game with our gun regulatory laws. 

On June 18, 2015, the Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act, Bill C-42, officially came into effect. 

The bill includes positive measures for banning firearm sales to individuals with a history of domestic violence.

But, it also loosens regulations on transporting restricted firearms between locations, and gives the Minister of Public 

Safety — appointed by the party in power — the ability to ignore RCMP warnings around the classification of weapons. 

Harper defended the law, saying that access to guns can provide “a certain level of security when you’re a ways from immediate police assistance.”

The comment’s possible interpretation as approval for vigilante justice, despite Harper’s denial, made many Canadians nervous. 

While our laws don’t yet parallel the crisis in the United States, we’re slowly inching closer, and recent events demonstrate a worrisome possibility if this trend continues.

In September, comments on a blogTO post encouraged anti-feminists to enter U of T’s women’s studies and sociology department and “spray bullets all over the classroom”. 

The credibility of these threats was debated, but the similarity to the 1989 massacre of 14 women at Montreal’s École Polytechnique is chilling. 

Canadians can’t ignore the conversation surrounding firearm control. 

Two hours after the Oregon shooting, Harper chose to tweet about a Blue Jays game. Neither NDP leader Thomas Mulcair nor Liberal leader Justin Trudeau offered a comment. 

If our politicians are willing to relinquish control over firearms, they should be ready to address the consequences. 

Don’t let our current gun laws fool you. We’re not bulletproof. 

Victoria is one of The Journal’s Assistant News Editors. She’s a third-year English and drama medial.

 

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