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It’s time to take aim at the political inaction on gun control

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Every time there’s a mass shooting in the United States, Canadians quickly jump on their high horses to crow about how much better we are than our dysfunctional American cousins.

This past weekend was no exception. On Aug. 3, a purported white supremacist, echoing much of the same rhetoric as has been idly spewed by the sitting U.S. president, drove hours from his home to kill 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. Barely half a day later, another gunman tore through nine lives in Dayton, Ohio.

These heinous acts deservedly took up a lot of oxygen and airtime, as reaction and lack of action from political leaders left many rightly baffled. U.S. President Donald Trump denounced white supremacy and proclaimed that his country has a problem with mental illness, conveniently ignoring his own role in emboldening hate.

“Horrible news from El Paso today. Canadians are grieving with our American neighbours and friends for the lives that were senselessly taken, and wishing all those injured a speedy recovery,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in an Aug. 3 tweet.

But oddly, there was no mention from the prime minister of the 14 different shootings that took place on home soil over the August long weekend, leaving about 17 people injured in Toronto.

According to The Toronto Star, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders told reporters on Aug. 5 that “this is not Toronto,” which is about as believable as the people who say “this is not America” after yet-another race-based hate crime.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said Aug. 6 that the Liberals are preparing a new gun-control policy that will be ready in time to be rolled out as part of the party’s election platform.

At a press conference in Ottawa, he pointed to the recently passed Bill C-71 as one of the ways the government was moving to make society safer from gun violence, as well as money allotted to the provinces and territories for a guns and gangs strategy, and funds for the Canada Border Services Agency to stop smuggled weapons from coming into the country.

Mr. Goodale also referenced Organized Crime Reduction Minister Bill Blair’s consultations on banning certain types of firearms. “The contents of that report and other facts and information including ongoing events are shaping the policy proposals that we will be making to Canadians in the weeks immediately ahead and Canadians will have the opportunity to listen to the competing views from all the political parties,” he said.

Continuing to kick the can down the road isn’t going to do anyone any good. People are continuing to be killed and injured. Whether it’s mental illness, racism, gang activity, or a combination of all three, substantive gun control measures that keep dangerous weapons out the hands of those who seek to do harm is long overdue. Waiting for the next mass shooting—or spate of disparate shootings that hurt just as many people—or for the election is cowardly.

An electoral race shouldn’t be the only motivation to determine who becomes the next innocent bystander.

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