Ridge Meadows RCMP were on scene of a shooting an McDougal Street in Maple Ridge earlier this month. (Neil Corbett/The News)

Ridge Meadows RCMP were on scene of a shooting an McDougal Street in Maple Ridge earlier this month. (Neil Corbett/The News)

Gun control not a one-off issue

Dealing with our gun violence problem is a thorny isssue with no one simple solution

The shooting Wednesday morning in Maple Ridge isn’t likely to stick in most people’s minds for that long.

There have just been too many similar shootings in the Lower Mainland.

In a week, the only people still thinking about the shooting will be the shaken neighbours, the investigators, and the victim and his family.

One of the quiet horrors of gun violence is how quickly it becomes normal. In the Lower Mainland, that mostly means gang shootings. It’s easy to write them off as bad guys killing bad guys – or it would be, if they didn’t sometimes kill or injure innocent bystanders.

In the U.S., we’ve just seen one of the most horrific school shootings in years, with, as of this writing, the deaths of 19 children, two teachers, and another 17 people injured.

And yet the response, no matter how horrified, is muted because we’ve been through this before.

There is no real comparison between Canadian and American gun violence. Although we have seen mass shootings, from 2017’s terrorist attack on worshippers at a Quebec City mosque, to the 1989 Ecole Polytechnique massacre, these remain relatively rare.

In Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, gun laws have almost always been tightened following major mass shooting events. Only in the United States is the political will lacking to implement major reforms.

But that is not to pat ourselves on the back here in Canada.

We still have a gun problem. In fact, we have several overlapping gun problems, most of them related to organized crime.

There are guns smuggled in from the United States over the longest undefended border in the world. There are guns sold legally in Canada to “straw purchasers” with clean records, who can pass them along to criminal associates. There are guns that are modified to be more lethal, firing more rounds, their magazines holding more bullets.

These are the tricky problems of gun control, when you share a border with the United States.

Gun control in Canada isn’t just a matter of making new laws, nor of enforcing them – although those are part of the solution.

It has to be a multi-tiered approach. We have to tackle the root causes of gang violence, including targeting their sources of revenue. We have to reinforce border security. We need much, much better intelligence about trans-national criminal organizations, including regional gangs and outlaw bikers.

We also need to work with the United States, and exert what influence we have to help change their gun culture. Because the U.S. is part of our gun problem, too.


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B.C. gang problemEditorialsgun controlOpinion