It only happened about 3 hours ago, but with how quickly news travels today, you’ve no doubt heard about the school shooting in Connecticut. As I heard some of the coverage (and watched some of the reaction on Twitter — most notably from a fictional Twitter handle: President Bartlet), I couldn’t help but think of something that I shared on Facebook recently.
It was a post about Bob Costas and his mention of gun control on national television — the same weekend where a professional football player took his own life (along with his girlfriend). There were some reactions to my sharing this on Facebook, which precipitated my going and finding an article about what it was like to own a gun in Canada (vs. owning a gun in the US). I’m very aware that there’s a second amendment to the United States Constitution and that it’s probably there for a very good reason, but it’s painful — painful — when there’s a tragedy that may have been prevented if there were better rules/regulations in place.
People who want stronger regulations to own guns are not infringing on citizens’ second amendment rights. Let me say that again: people who want stronger gun control regulations are not trying to take people’s guns away.
There are a few important points from the article detailing the differences between getting a gun in Canada and getting one in the US:
The first step in legally obtaining a gun in Canada is taking the Canadian Firearms Safety Course and Test. The course is required to obtain a possession and acquisition licence.
Obtaining an PAL does not allow its owner unfettered access to firearms, but instead allows its bearer to obtain a “non-restricted” firearm. Non-restricted firearms are generally considered to be sporting rifles, shotguns or airguns.
The PAL allows Canadians to own and operate “non-restricted” firearms. A “restricted” firearm generally refers to handguns, and requires a separate certification training course, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police website.
The people in this class will have to wait several weeks to find out if they pass, but even if they do, there are several more steps before they can actually get a gun.
They still have to apply for a firearms license, which like a driver’s license requires a photo.
There’s a 28-day waiting period for that and the government runs background checks and calls personal references to talk to them to see if they think the applicant can handle a gun.
But that still doesn’t allow the person to buy a handgun and bring it home. There’s a separate license required to take the handgun out of the store. The Authorization to Transport (ATT) is even required for person to a gun from one location to another in Canada – even to move a gun from a home to a firing range.
The whole process takes months, but for the most part the students in this class don’t mind the restrictions. In fact, they appreciate them. [Emphasis added]
“I don’t really consider it going through hoops. It’s a weekend, a couple hundred dollars,” said one student Paula. “For the responsibility of carrying around a firearm? I think that’s more than worth it. I would like to know that anyone around me who has the ability to use a firearm knows what the hell they’re doing and knows how to do it safely, and knows how to think of me and my family and not just themselves and I want to do this so I’m gonna do it,” she said. [Emphasis added]
These are not unreasonable expectations. A common argument you hear from supporters of gun control: you need a license to drive a car, why wouldn’t you need a license to own a gun? I hear that argument, but I think it incorrectly equates cars with guns (somewhat ironically — both lead to a number of deaths in the Western world).
A far more important argument — in my eyes — is the question of what we value as a society. What does our society value more — money or life? Because that’s what it costs. “Unfettered” freedom with regard to gun control — costs lives. Today’s event wasn’t the first school shooting and if there continues to be such lax gun regulations in the US, it probably won’t be the last.
Yes — regulations cost money. But what’s more important, money or life?