Australia vs the United States vs Quebec
by Nathalie on October 5, 2017 - 12:43pm
Sunday, October 1, 2017 marks the deadliest mass shooting in the history of the United States, killing 58 people and injuring 515 while Jason Aldean was performing at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas. He shot an automatic weapon for 15 minutes straight from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. For the past 20 years, America has had 70 mass shootings. Yet, Quebec, which is only 172.6 km away (about 2 hours and 25 minutes), has had 4 mass shootings in the past 20 years. And even better, Australia has had no mass shootings. And considering that most mass shootings were committed by a semi-automatic weapon, we seem to have a serious problem with weaponry. A semiautomatic weapon is “a self-loading rifle or other firearm.” My question to you is why, as a citizen, would you need a semiautomatic weapon?
The last time Australia had to deal with the repercussions of a mass shooting was in April of 1996 when a man armed with a semiautomatic rifle shot and killed 35 people and injured 18 people in Tasmania. Two months after the horrible incident, Australia set forth strict gun laws concerning the type of guns allowed. According to Daniel Webster, a health researcher at Hopkins University, the effectiveness of the laws are due to a dramatic reduction in semiautomatic weapons in Australia.
Like Australia, Quebec’s firearm laws are very strict and the process of owning a gun is quite complicated. There are 5 steps to owning a gun in Quebec. You must first pass the CCSMAFAR “Cours canadien de sécurité dans le maniement des arms a feu à authorisation restreinte”. The purpose of this course is to provide training on the safe handling, usage, transportation and storage of restricted firearms. The next step is to pass an obligatory aptitude test “Test d’aptitude de la Loi 9” for anyone who wants to own a gun or anyone who wants to renew their membership at a shooting club. Followed by passing the CCSMAF (Cours canadien dans le maniement des armes à feu. Then making a request for a permit of possession and acquisition. And lastly, becoming a member of a shooting club. As well, to own a gun in Quebec you must be a member of the FQT (Federation québécoise de tir), be at least 21 years old, be a member of a shooting club that is recognized by the FQT for more than a year, have passed the aptitude test “Test d’aptitude de la Loi 9” since more than year and have practiced shooting with authorized weapons regularly for at least a year before submitting a demand. However, despite strict gun laws and long procedures to obtain a gun, mass shootings still occur. According to A.J. Somerset, an author on gun issues, in Canada, “semiautomatic guns can legally hold a magazines with up to five rounds [...], but many military-style semi-automatic [weapons] are easily modified to 30 rounds.” “If someone wants [...] to obtain a non-restricted firearm in Canada that is functionally the same as an AK-47, illegally modify it, and they have exactly the rifle we don’t want them to have,” Somerset said.
In the United States, most if not all of the 70 mass shootings in the last 20 years were committed with a semiautomatic weapon. One major problem regarding gun violence in the United States that could account for this large number of mass shootings is the absence of gun laws. Americans have the right to bear arms, any arms. You do not need a license, nor registration, nor a reason to own arms, nor safety training, nor safe storage for your arms. You can buy a semi- automatic weapon from Walmart! Walmart the store that sells toilet paper ad kids’ toys. Families go to Walmart. Children go to Walmart. Children should be nowhere near guns and guns definitely shouldn’t be sold in Walmart. According to Somerset, “the tight restrictions [of gun laws in Canada] have opened up an illegal flow of guns from the United States. So technically speaking, if the United States had stricter gun laws, the illegal trafficking of weaponry into Canada would no longer be, therefore improving gun violence in Canada.
However, Quebec is making progress having passed a bill in 2016 to launch a provincial gun registry in 2018. Hopefully, this progress will continue and Quebec will be inspired by Australia’s strives in public safety. Yet, the United States still have a long way to go to at least decrease the amount of gun violence. The United States could take reference from Australia.
Rosen, Meghan. “Strict Gun Laws Ended Mass Shootings in Australia.” Science News for Students. 12 July 2016. https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/strict-gun-laws-ended-mass-shootings-australia. Accessed 2 Oct. 2017.
Nickel, Rod and Nia Williams. “Quebec City mosque shooting: Despite strict Canadian laws, illegal guns still within reach.” Global News, 30 Jan. 2017. https://globalnews.ca/news/3215653/ quebec-city-mosque-shooting-despite-strict-canadian-laws-illegal-guns-still-within-reach/. Accessed 2 Oct. 2017.
Blackstein, Andrew, Pete Williams, Rachel Elbaum and Elizabeth Chuck. “Las Vegas Shooting: 59 Killed and More than 500 Hurt Near Mandalay Bay.” NBC News, 2 Oct. 2017, https:// www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/las-vegas-police-investigating-shooting-mandalay-bay-n806461/. Accessed 2 Oct. 2017.