January 4, 2013
It’s much less time than most people will take to read this.
Twenty-seven people dead, including the shooter.
It is math that disturbed everyone from the moment they heard it.
It is math that has broken the hearts of way, way, too many parents, grandparents, sons, daughters, husbands and others since the dark, dark episode of Sandy Hook Public School gripped our hearts with the icy reality of what evil can be capable of.
Most of us can’t make a coffee in that time.
But there strewn in the classrooms, hallways, headlines and annals of history are some the most wasteful losses of life witnessed in the modern western world.
Newtown, Connecticut taught the world a horrible, hopefully valuable lesson about what firearms are now capable of.
Which leads to the obvious discussion of gun control.
It is a topic that has carried a lot of baggage in the United States of America where powerful lobby groups seek out and track down any candidates for public office with the audacity to propose any reforms that might hinder the acquisition or retention of weapons that do huge amounts of damage every year.
Almost predictably, the most visible of these lobbyists, the National Rifle Association, believe the cure to mass shootings such as the one in the Grade 1 classroom is more guns. This despite an emergency room doctor reporting in the New York Times this week that, “I know that in 2009, the most recent year for which data is available, nearly 400 American children (age 14 and under) were killed with a firearm and nearly 1,000 were injured. That means that this week we can expect 26 more children to be injured or killed with a firearm.”
More firearms indeed.
Fortunately, Canada’s culture has not been nearly as saturated with the every-person-for-themselves mentality that turns guns from useful tools in mostly rural settings to a way of life where personal security means everyone is armed and dangerous.
That is not to say that guns have not been the subject of much debate and controversy here in Canada.
It has been less than a year since the national long gun registry was abolished after years of wedge politics from both sides of the issue.
The registry was a bureaucratic disaster. Gun control, though, makes sense.
Above all else we value a system that keeps in check the proper respect, use, and storage of firearms in this country and believe government, law enforcement and other agencies play an important role in keeping guns as important tools and not icons to a culture that would make them part of our everyday life.
So when something like Sandy Hook happens we believe this country, our government, has an obligation to inquire and react to the availability of firearms that give regular citizens such nightmarish capabilities.
What makes sense here at home is a review of what is considered a restricted and/or prohibited weapon in Canada and making sure that prohibitions and penalties are appropriate and reasonable. It is the only mature reaction our government can have to the heartbreak just south of us and, unlike in the U.S., one we believe all Canadians appreciate can happen here without the forces of lobbyists trying to shut down mature debate about public safety.
Time will tell whether that capability has been lost forever south of the 49th parallel, but we know action for the sake of the greater good can still prevail here. Let’s make sure it happens now, and not two minutes too late.
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