Whenever there’s a tragedy like the ones in Dayton and El Paso, you can expect calls for action. Some claim that we could reduce or even eliminate mass shootings if we just enacted “common sense gun control” like that found in places likes Canada. Well, here’s the problem with that argument: when you look at the last half decade and adjust for population, Canada actually had more.
The federal government defines “mass killings” to mean “three or more killings in a single incident,” and Mother Jones maintains a list of all shootings that meet this definition. From the beginning of 2014 until now, the U.S. has seen forty-seven of them. In the same period, Canada had six.
Those killings happened at a school, a mosque, and several were in residential neighborhoods. They included a man murdering eight people in Edmonton, another killing three police officers in New Brunswick, and a third that went on a rampage in British Columbia. A fourth mass shooting also took place in New Brunswick that claimed the lives of two police officers as well as two civilians.
Given that Canada’s population is roughly one ninth that of the U.S., those six shootings represented a higher number of incidents per capita. What’s more, they weren’t the only mass killings to occur: in the same time frame, there was also a mass stabbing that claimed the lives of five people, van attack in which ten died, and a crossbow attack that killed three.
Canada requires a license to own a firearm, demands that handguns be registered, and restricts the sale of AR-15 rifles. However, none of these measures prevented the mass shootings noted above. However, there is a policy that might have helped.
Across America, legally armed citizens have stopped mass shootings. They did so earlier this year at a Walmart in Washington, and you can find plenty of similar examples.
But while people who carry guns legally can stop crimes, they rarely commit them. In 2018 over 1.3 million Texans were licensed to carry a firearm. One was convicted of murder and another three were convicted of manslaughter, giving them a per capita murder rate of 0.29 per 100 thousand. By comparison, Canada’s rate was 1.76.
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Unfortunately, some don’t want self-defense to be an option. States like New Jersey and Maryland make it almost impossible to carry a weapon, as do large employers like Walmart. Changing that should be a priority. Adopting Canadian-style gun control?
Not so much.
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