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We're not immune to U.S. gun culture or the fallout

Last week’s tragedy in Moncton still fresh, the other coast was the scene Wednesday of another shooting, with police exchanging gunfire with a man before arresting him. The debate over gun control already fuelled by the deaths of three RCMP officers gets just that much hotter.

Toronto, no stranger to gun violence, saw a spate of shootings as May rolled over into June. Seven people were wounded.

Such occurrences give us pause to think, rightly.

Routinely, we wonder how such things can happen here. And, naturally, we look to the situation in the U.S., both as some oddly satisfying assurance that we’re not as bad and to get some idea of the gulf between gun control advocates and the pro-gun lobby.

Some perspective: In the past week alone, there have been five significant shootings in the U.S., where gun-related homicides are a daily occurrence.

At Seattle Pacific University on June 5, a man killed one person and wounded three others before being subdued. The following day in Forsyth County, Georgia a man alleged to be a right-wing group launched  an assault on the county courthouse armed with an AR-15 and two handguns. One deputy was wounded before he was killed by as many as eight responding officers. Over the course of last weekend, Chicago was witness to a string of gun violence that left four dead and more than 30 wounded. In Las Vegas last Sunday, a married couple shot and killed two police officers and one other civilian and then killed themselves in what authorities suspect to be an act of far-right violence. And, at a high school outside Portland, Oregon on Tuesday, a student and a shooter were killed, while a teacher was wounded.

As indicated by this small sample, school shootings figure prominently in gun violence, despite the assertions things should and would change following the slaughter of young children at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut in December 2012. Since that time, just a year and half ago, there have been 74 more school shooting in the U.S. That’s about one a week since then. Nothing has changed.

Every day in the U.S., about 30 people are murdered with guns.

Despite the outpouring of emotion that followed Sandy Hook, and despite polls and surveys showing the overwhelming majority of Americans supporting tighter restrictions on gun ownership, nothing has been done.

With every incident, some people call for further restrictions on gun ownership. That’s the case following the latest school shooting south of the border, just as we’re hearing now following the events in Moncton.

On the other side of the argument, gun advocates make excuses (the NRA in the States, the National Firearms Association here) and argue for greater access to guns, saying armed civilians could have gunned down such criminals before their killing sprees continued.

The latter arguments are commonplace in the U.S., where second amendment – the right to keep and bear arms – issues abound. In Canada, the notion seems ridiculous: having more guns at hand increases the risk. It would be far more likely for someone to see red, snap and use a readily available gun than it would be for someone to be faced with a murderer on a shooting rampage.

Here, we’re not, of course, immune from such tragedies, as events of the last week show.

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