-5.1 C
Thursday, January 23, 2020
Connecting Our Communities

We’re not immune to gun violence, but have saner debates


News Briefs

Woolwich nixes traffic islands Displeased with the troublesome pedestrian islands installed during the Region of Waterloo’s reconstruction of Church Street...

EDSS student wins U.S. baseball scholarship

It’s January and nowhere near Florida, but St. Jacobs’ Blake Jacklin is in a baseball frame of mind....

Woolwich proposes 5% tax hike for 2020

Budget talks underway this week, Woolwich council is looking at five per cent hike in property taxes, a...

Woolwich looks to add green projects as part of climate action plan

Planting trees remains Woolwich’s priority in rolling out a 0.5 per cent greening levy on property taxes again...


clear sky
-5.1 ° C
-1.7 °
-8.9 °
73 %
1 %
1 °
3 °
2 °
2 °
-1 °

Not unexpectedly, amid all the anguish that followed the latest in a seemingly endless string of mass shootings in the U.S. – this time 22 dead in El Paso, Texas and nine in Dayton, Ohio – there’s yet another round in the seemingly endless gun-control debate.

There’s a renewed call for tougher controls, as is always the case, but advocates will have difficulty making headway on something as simple as background checks, let alone something along the lines of banning assault rifles.

Gun-control advocates on this side of the border will have an easier time adding restrictions to what are much, much tighter regulations in this country following a long weekend orgy of gun violence in Toronto that saw 17 people shot during 14 different incidents. Shootings in the city are up two-and-half times since 2014.

Canada has tighter controls, part of the reason the number of firearms in the country is 34.7 per 100 residents, which seems high but pales in comparison where the corresponding figure is 120.5 weapons.

There are some 390 million guns owned by civilians in the U.S., and about 40 per cent of Americans own a gun or live in a household with one. Not coincidentally, the U.S. has the highest rate of murder or manslaughter by firearm in the developed world – that translated to 11,000 deaths in 2017 alone.

The latest mass murders come with racial overtones and links to inflammatory racist remarks by President Donald Trump, making the latest round of debates even more political. In that light, those in favour of gun control, including Democratic politicians, are making a big push for changes. Opponents, including apologists for Trump, are playing up the “too soon for debate” and “don’t politicize tragedy” arguments to shoot down calls for changes, stalling tactics that get rolled out each and every time, the better to avoid increasing public safety. That’s true even when the mass killings involved school kids, as in Parkland or Sandy Hook, for instance.

Guns-are-good 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 spree.

We operate under a different mindset than do those in the States, where politicians must be pro-gun, or at least not come out in favour of gun control. That kind of thinking would not fly here: even the gun registry debate was more about waste and graft than about the guns themselves.

Health care, on the other hand, is tightly woven into our national identity. Politicians of all stripes here vie to be health-care saviours, each pledging to do more than the other.

It’s a different story in the U.S., where the health-care-for-all mentality we treasure here is eyed with suspicion by many. Opponents – typically those with much to gain from the status quo – have succeeded in painting universal health care as a tax-and-spend fantasy of the liberals (a word with a much different meaning than we use here). They have successfully linked any such program to the dreaded socialist boogeyman, threatening increased costs and a lack of choice.

It’s far easier to get a gun than it is for many to get medical care. The irony that criminal use of guns leads to extra demand for treatment is not lost on critics here. And that, more than anything else, illustrates the divide between our countries – no matter how much we support our American cousins, most of us want to keep those differences in place, believing they make us a better place to live.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to The Observer's online community. Pseudonyms are not permitted. By submitting a comment, you accept that The Observer has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner The Observer chooses. Please note that The Observer does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our submission guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.


The new face of health promotion

There’s a new face around the Woolwich Community Health Centre. Gebre Berlihun has taken on the role of public health promoter after the retirement of 25-year employee Joy Finney in October.

In Print. Online. In Pictures. In Depth.

You obviously love community journalism. Thanks for visiting today. If you have a great local story, let us know.

EDCL donates $1,000 as thank-you to Floradale firefighters

Thanking the Woolwich Fire Department, Elmira District Community Living this week donated $1,000 to the Floradale station. Firefighters from Floradale...

New app a one-stop shop for region’s waste program

Not sure when your garbage will be picked up? What’s currently allowed in the recycling bin? There’s an app for that.

Applejacks extend winning streak to three

The new year continues to be good to the Wellesley Applejacks, who picked up a pair of wins over the weekend to make...

Kings win two more to keep streak alive

The Elmira Sugar Kings extended their 2020 winning streak and their hold on the conference standings with a pair of wins over the weekend.

Choir to bring the sounds of Africa to Elmira

Updated Jan 21, 2020: Due to unforeseen circumstances the Watoto Children’s Choir travel has been delayed, so sadly we will have to...
- Advertisement -