Too many guns out there

I heard about the (latest) Texas (school) shooting on a Kelowna rock radio station. The DJ made a passionate plea for gun control in the U.S.

When I got home I started refreshing my mind with regard to the 1994 U.S. ban on assault weapons and just how that legislation was overturned. Under (former U.S. president Bill) Clinton, it prohibited the manufacture or sale for civilian use of certain semi-automatic weapons.

The act also banned magazines that could accommodate 10 rounds or more. Commonly known as the “Assault Weapons Ban,” the legislation was enacted in part as a reaction to a schoolyard shooting in Stockton, California where five small children were killed and 28 others wounded. Soon thereafter, another mass shooting took place at a law firm in San Fransisco.

Certain concessions were made to appease the Republican men and women in congress in order to push the act through. Sponsors accepted a "sunset” provision, by which the 1994 ban would automatically expire after 10 years unless renewed by a vote of Congress.

Thanks to the fact that the Republicans controlled both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives at the time, the bill was shot down in 2004.

Ironically one reason for this was that after 9/11 the U.S. electorate had more extreme protectionist priorities it is said.

So yes, I am saying there is a good chance yesterday's tragedy, amongst others, are a result of direct action taken by the GOP and the National Rifle Association (NRA) to overturn th e assault weapons ban.

So how did this play out in Canada? After Canada's Liberal government took the bold, but correct, stance not to partake in the "War for Oil ' in Iraq, the country elected the uber-right, evangelically minded (Conservative) Stephen Harper, who was, as the leader of the Opposition, almost fanatically in favour of Canada's involvement in the war.

Firearms flooded into Canada after Harper’s Conservative government dismantled the federal long gun registry in 2012—nearly two million rifles, shotguns and handguns were imported for retail sale across the country over just five years, federal records show.

The surge of firearms, with a total import value of $751 million, rose 79% in Canada during that time period. That included numerous semi-automatic models between 2014 and 2018, until the Liberals were re-elected (to government) and started a campaign to stop those imports.

Since then, there have been multiple demonstrations across Canada by pro-gun organizations citing freedom (concerns).

Currently there are a reported 300 million to 400 million firearms owned by private citizens in the U.S. (between 30million and 40 million being of the assault variety).

In Canada, there are currently more than 100,000 restricted firearms among the models that are now prohibited. This number does not include other newly-prohibited models that were not subject to registration requirements, according to the Canada government’s website.

Ian Skinner

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