06.21.2016 01:08 AM

In this week’s Hill Times: stop letting evil/crazy people get guns, for starters

Could Orlando have happened here?

Well, we’ve got our share of Islamic terrorists here, of course: the attack on Parliament Hill, and several other attacks in the past decade, have made that clear enough.

We’ve had no shortage of hate crimes, too: l’Ecole Polytechnique was indisputably one against women, and minority communities are still regularly subjected to violent hate – for their faith, their skin colour, their sexual orientation.

We almost certainly have the same percentage of untreated mentally ill people, too – and, as the recently-concluded University of Calgary mass-murder trial showed, a minority of them sometimes commit horrific acts of violence.

So, if Orlando was inspired by al-Qaeda or ISIS, we haven’t been immune to any of that.  Same goes for hate crimes, and mental illness that spirals downward into killing.  Canadians have experienced all of those things, too.

But there is one critical difference.  Here, unlike down there, we do not make it easy for Islamic extremists, or haters, or the mentally ill, to get guns.  Here in Canada, unlike in the United States, we have not elevated gun ownership to a state religion.

The statistics grimly bear this out.  One that was pinging around Twitter, in the wake of Orlando, was this: “Canada has had eight mass shooting in 20 years.  America has had seven since last Monday.” I don’t know if that is scrupulously accurate, but it sounds about right.

Orlando’s causality, then, could have been Islamic terror, or hate crime, or mental illness.  But its methodology was the shocking ubiquity – and the easy accessibility – of guns in the United States of America.

Right about now, of course, some gun nut loser is moving their lips, reading what I’ve written, and is readying to deploy the usual barrage of bullshit statistics favoured by that terrorist group, the NRA.  Sitting in their jammies in their mother’s basement – with their small penises, and their big guns – the gun fetishists will argue it’s all about mens rea, not actus reus. They always do.

But they’re wrong, of course.  Just ask my friend Anthony Aleksik. Anthony took to Facebook, this week, to point out – methodically, factually – how the Orlando killer (who I refuse to name) could not have murdered 49 innocents here as easily as he did there.

Here’s an edited summary of what Anthony wrote:

“1. Before applying for a Restricted Possession and Acquisition License (RPAL), [the killer] would have had to have attended a two-day course, at a cost of around $150-$250.

2. [The killer] would have then had to send in an application and $80 to the Canadian Firearms Program, administered by the RCMP in New Brunswick. His ex-wife would have had to have signed off on it – and he would have needed two other signatures of people who have known him for more than two years. Extensive background checks and reference calls by the RCMP would have raised red flags.

3. In the event he did pass the application process, around a month (or two, in some provinces) after applying, he would have gotten his RPAL in the mail.  Twenty-eight days is the legislated minimum waiting period.

4. He could then have walked into a gun store and purchased a Sig Sauer MCX (an AR-15 variant) and a Glock 17 [as the killer did]. First, though, the guns would have to be registered, which can take from between one and 15 days.  A membership with a gun range would be required, too, as target shooting is a legal reason to own a restricted firearm in Canada. Collecting is also a legal reason, but you’d better own a museum, belong to a historical society, have a few published papers, and possess a reputation in the collecting and historical community.

5.  So now he owns the guns – with trigger locks on, and locked in cases in the trunk of his car. If he drives anywhere other than between his home and the range, he’s breaking the law.  And not breaking-the-speed-limit-type of breaking the law, either.  Five-years-in prison-breaking-the-law. Each movement of the guns outside this home-and-range route would require a separate Authorization to Transport (ATT). “

And so on, and so on.  You get the point.

Unlike me, Anthony is a conservative type who opposes stricter gun laws.  But, like me, he’s an Albertan and a gun owner.

As someone who has been through the gun course, and filled out the forms and whatnot, I can also testify to the fact that the Orlando mass-murderer would have been stopped, here, at any number of other steps in the process.  The requirement that his ex-wife – who told the media he was violent and beat her – agreed to the purchase of guns.  The disclosure of mental illness.  The background check that is truly comprehensive. The waiting periods that go on for months.

In Canada, like in the U.S., we have homicidal Islamic extremists.  We have sadistic hate criminals.  We have people who are mentally ill and violent.  We sadly have all that, just like in the States.

But here, unlike there, we don’t make it easy for any of those individuals to get guns.

And that is the main reason why Orlando couldn’t so easily happen here.  And hasn’t.


  1. the salamander horde says:

    .. of course we currently have a Conservative MP backing a petition to change all that & make it easier for ‘hunters’ to purchase AR 15’s .. His timing was certainly flawed, coming a week before the Orlando massacre.. and he’s seemingly kept his lips sealed since.. no comment no comment no comment. The idea that hunting would be enhanced by having a semi auto military style rifle with stunning rate of fire and quick change high capacity magazines seems pretty odd. Options such as red dot laser sight with range finder, or night optics variable zoom scope, or drop in faster trigger kit for almost auto rate of fire don’t sound like the needs of any sportsman or hunter I’ve ever met… and the murderous legacy of the AR 15 could only appeal to the truly vile..

    • Manuel says:

      Hunting is enhanced by the light weight and ergonomics of the rifle. People who hunt with AR-15’s and similar rifles typically mount hunting optics no different than they’d put on any other hunting rifle. Semi-auto reduces felt recoil (most hunt with some type of .30cal AR not .223) and allows for a quick humane follow-up shot if need be. Those who hunt with these types of rifles aren’t walking around in the woods with a big 30 round magazine either. Magazines are available on 10 and 20 round capacity. You can’t get one smaller than 10 as it wouldn’t be physically long enough to fit in the magazine well. Though I doubt any hunter would put more than 4 rounds in whatever magazine they are using anyway.

  2. Doug says:

    Tks Warren for setting the record straight for gun owners in Canada. There are a lot of hoops in Canada for obtaining a firearm especially restricted firearms. I have spoken to lots of people that think purchasing a firearm is the same as in the US and are surprised with the laws regarding pistols (allowed to shooting only on approved ranges, requiring an ATT, transporting only from home to range etc). One last thing I would like to add is that according to the RCMP most of the handguns used illegally in Canada are smuggled in from the US, although I think some police chiefs (Toronto especially) play with that figure. Also semi automatic rifles in Canada are limited to 5 round magazines. High capacity magazines are prohibited here and carry the same penalty as an illegal firearm.

  3. doconnor says:

    Most of the people of commit these gun massacres are losers who lack persistence. By making the process long and tedious, they usually give up before following through on thier plans or use a less dangerous weapon, like a knife or a shotgun.

  4. Manuel says:

    I’m not so sure Orlando killer would have had any issues getting a licensed and firearms in Canada. Not only did he pass the background check at the time he purchased the firearms, but he had a state license to work as an armed security guard. Although ex conjugal partners need to sign off on a firearms license application in Canada, the limit is two years. The killer and his ex divorced 5 years ago so she wouldn’t be involved or even know about his firearms application. As for the disclosure of mental illness, that is disclosure by the individual applying. I’m sure the killer would not have checked the box and said he was ill. I think the difference that separates Canada from the US in terms of this kind of violence is much much more than gun control and has a lot to do with the type of society we are. Though we could do better with mental health care. And in both countries family, friends and coworkers need to speak out and the “system” needs to react to that.

    • Cory says:

      Reminds me of how the head of the Quebec Hell’s Angels, Mom Boucher, was able to legally purchase restricted firearms.

  5. Bluegreenblogger says:

    Well that sums it up nicely. Thank you.

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