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From Canada: painfully-earned advice on guns

Parker Zhang/YJI

Langley, British Columbia, CANADA – As America reels from the Texas shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers, many are searching for answers and solutions.

With the highest gun ownership rate per capita and one of the highest gun violence rates, America needs to reform immediately.

It is during these difficult times that Americans need to turn away from the “American exceptionalism” mantra, swallow their pride and learn from others.

Across the border, in Canada, gun violence rates are one-sixth of their American counterpart. With universal background checks, psychological evaluations and mandatory gun safety courses, Canada takes easy steps to reduce impulse buys and ensuring that mentally unstable people cannot access lethal weapons.

There is no constitutional right to own a gun in Canada. Instead, there are regulations – a common practice globally.

The discussion in Canada around gun ownership is not about whether one has the right to own a gun, but rather about what type of gun is permissible. This has been sorely left out of American politics. While politicians and political pundits pander to their base, there are no steps taken to de-escalate.

A mass shooting in Nova Scotia rocked Canada in 2020, leaving 23 dead and three injured.

But Canada responded swiftly. Less than two weeks later, the federal government announced a ban on 1,500 military-grade assault rifles.

While the Conservative Party of Canada decried this as another heavy-handed restriction, Canadian Television News reported that about two-thirds of Canadians supported the measure. Civil society did not politicize gun ownership, but instead focused on the type of weapons that led to such deaths.

The institutional and systemic challenges in the United States make it much harder to implement gun control. With Second Amendment protections continually expanded upon by a conservative Supreme Court, restrictions are frequently ruled unconstitutional.

A strong lobbying culture led by the National Rifle Association has paralyzed Congress.

But many initiatives once seemingly far-fetched in the American psyche have come to fruition. It once seemed preposterous that Black people should vote. Or that holy matrimony could be extended to same-sex couples.

Maybe, just maybe, America could learn from others?

Parker Zhang is a Junior Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

More student voices on the Texas school shooting:

Adults vowed ‘never again’ after Sandy Hook. What happened?

We need reforms, not posthumous honors

Bullet wounds in children are not American

Gun violence dims America’s promise


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