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When will enough be enough?

Dan LeRoy | Fulcrum Staff

THIS PAST DECEMBER, the world was stunned by two shocking events on two different continents.  In both cases, a man walked into an elementary school with the intent to kill.  In one of these attacks, 20 children and six adults were murdered; in the other, 20 children and one adult were injured but none died from their wounds.  The first case was in Newtown, CT, and the second was in Chengping, China.

I am unaware of anyone who has not felt disgusted and pained by the massacre in Newtown.  How is it possible for a man to walk into an elementary school with a legally obtained military assault weapon and open fire on innocent children? People around the world expressed their shock and outrage.  Nowhere was this outrage stronger than in Newtown itself, where folks were directing their anguish toward advocating gun control to make it illegal to possess a military-like arsenal in your basement.

However, Wayne LaPierre, the vice president of the National Rifle Association (NRA), an incredibly powerful organization of over 4 million Americans, urged congress to “appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every single school in this nation,” a statement that many in the U.S. believe is valid. In sum, the NRA’s response to children being massacred in the schools: Let’s make guns more accessible, not less.  Problematically, after years of conservative-oriented politicians swearing by the right of everyone to possess guns without even the slightest of hindrance, protecting the Second Amendment—which guarantees the right to bear arms in the American constitution—has become like a sort of holy mission.

Let’s entertain this thought for a minute. The NRA believes that more guns will stop gun violence.  Others have acknowledged the perpetrator of the Newtown shootings would’ve entered a school with the intent to commit murder whether he had access to military style guns or not, similar to what happened in China that same day. Instead of possessing a semi-automatic machine gun, the Chengping attacker had a knife, as firearm possession is strongly controlled by the Chinese government.  He managed to inflict wounds on 20 children, eerily enough the same number of wounded children in American attacks. However, there were no fatalities or even serious injuries, and the man was eventually subdued by authorities.

Controlling access to guns should be a priority for every society.  Any American who has ever stood by the right to bear arms should ask themselves, as one father in Newtown said, “Do you love your guns more than your kids?”  This is a fair question and one that anyone with a family should ask themselves.

Here in Canada, we have still been home to far too many acts of violence.  I had just been accepted at Dawson College in Montreal when that college was hit by the attacks which took the life of one girl and injured many others—all done with legally obtained weapons.  Guns must be restricted more to make the obtention of legal weapons by dangerous people almost totally impossible.  To keep the hunting community intact and unaffected, “one-shot” rifles could be the sole exception, and only for those with a full psychological evaluation.

To bear arms in our society should be a privilege given to those we trust the most to secure our safety. Instead, the abandonment of the Long-Gun Registry Act on April 5, 2012 has made it easier for Canadians to obtain weapons.  Disturbingly, it seems like the candidate leading in the Liberal leadership campaign, Justin Trudeau, now supports less gun control.  On Dec. 1, he controversially declared, “I was raised with an appreciation and an understanding of how important in rural areas and right across the country gun ownership is as a part of the culture of Canada.”

Mr. Harper and Mr. Trudeau, please get your hands on our guns and off right-wing political hubris before something like the Newton shootings happens here on Canadian soil.