There is a renewed cry for gun control in the United States following recent domestic terrorism in El Paso Texas and Dayton Ohio, resulting in the death of 22 and 9 people respectively. These shootings are being considered hate crimes. Despite this, Mitch McConnel has refused to put forward to the Senate a bill that was passed by the house for background checks for gun purchases.
While Trump and McConnell are now making noises that they may consider legislation for background checks, Trump is focusing on mental illness as the cause for these mass shooting. The prevalence of violence for those having a mental illness, in general, is no greater than that of the general population. They are more likely to be the victim of violence. The criteria for background checks should be the propensity for violence and hate, not mental illness alone.
While a step forward, it is a very small step. The prevalence for mental illness in the US is no greater than that in Canada, yet the firearm related deaths in the US is 12.21 per 100,000 in the US per population while in comparison it is 2.00 in Canada. Ranking Firearm Related Deaths in Wikipedia
PBS reported on a study that six countries were responsible for half the world’s gun related deaths, the United States ranking second after Brazil, having the highest. PBS Report on Global Gun Deaths
If the pleading of students following the mass shooting at Parkwood School and the creation of the “Never Again” movement did not strike the chord of decency and concern to address the situation, I have no confidence that Trump and the GOP will be responsive. The NRA is already saying that back ground checks will not be well received by Trump’s base.
It is true that gun control alone will not solve the problem. Mental health services to address mental illness, social isolation and depression that results in suicide is part of the solution as well. However, domestic terrorism in the US is a far greater threat to Americans than ISIS. As long as the powers that be refuse to acknowledge white supremacists as a serious threat and hate crime, allowing those groups to operate legally in the US, it will proliferate.
Lack of gun control is also a major contributor. How else does one explain the difference in prevalence of firearm deaths in the US and Canada when the prevalence of mental illness is the same.
Why do I care about lack of gun control in United States when I am a Canadian. Because many of the guns used illegally in Canada are smuggled from the US where they are more accessible and cheaper. Most of them via the border between Detroit and Windsor, the latter being my home. CBC Article on Gun Trafficking
Even though Canada has a significantly lower rate of deaths by gunshot, recent shooting in Canada, particularly Toronto, have two-thirds of Canadians wanting more gun control. The recent rash of shootings are being attributed to gangs. While gun control may be a factor, addressing the root cause and reason for the gangs and violence would have longer term positive outcomes.
For the rural people in Canada and the United States who fear losing their way of life and hunting, we don’t care about hunting rifles, we care about handguns and automatic weapons.
Children should not be afraid to go to school and have armed guards, as well as drill in the event of a mass shooting. People should not be so frightened that the sound of a motorcycle backfiring has them rushing for their lives.
Prayers are not going to assuage those who have been victims, only definitive action to address the issue, including gun control will give them some measure of satisfaction but it will not take away the nightmares of those having witnessed or been injured, or .the profound sense grief for those having lost a loved one.