“I could never live in the States again,” a Canadian friend who once lived in San Francisco told me this week. “Your cities are just too violent.” I’m in northern Ontario, bear country, where most hunters, farmers and loggers own guns. When they look at the United States, they think there’s something wrong with us.

President Donald Trump says we have so many mass shootings because of mental illness, video games and the internet. But Canada has mental illness, the internet and violent video games, too — the same video games, in the same language — and its rate of gun violence is far lower.

What’s the difference? Like every other developed country, Canada has stricter gun regulation and fewer guns per person than we do. The United States is the world’s undisputed champion in firearm ownership, with more guns than people: 121 civilian firearms per 100 inhabitants. Canada has about 35 per 100.

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Doyle McManus

That might be one reason the United States has about seven times as many gun homicides (on a per capita basis) as Canada.

The search for causes of mass shootings isn’t so hard — unless you’re determined to obscure the fact that the United States, alone among advanced countries, allows unhinged people to obtain guns with ease.

White supremacists are part of the problem, but they’re not the whole problem. As the Canadian-born writer David Frum noted in the Atlantic this week, America’s mass shooters include “immigrants and natives; whites and nonwhites; Muslims and Christians; right-wingers, left-wingers and the nonpolitical. ...Despite their diversity, all these killers had one thing in common: their uniquely American access to firearms.”

So it might be useful to look at how another country, similar in culture, diversity and terrain, handles this dilemma.

Canada’s gun regulations aren’t draconian. Canadian federal law requires anyone who wants to own a gun to get a license, which means passing a background check and taking safety training — a process about as onerous as getting a driver’s license.

The application form is four pages long, and asks whether you have ever been convicted of a crime of violence, been the object of a protective order, or suffered from mental illness, depression or “emotional problems.”

It also asks whether you have recently experienced a divorce, separation, romantic breakup, job loss or bankruptcy. There’s a 28-day waiting period; the fee is $60 Canadian (about $45 U.S.).

The basic license covers rifles and shotguns, which are hunting weapons. Canadians can own handguns and semiautomatic weapons, too, but those require an additional license and training, and the guns must be registered.

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Any sane, law-abiding Canadian can own guns if he or she is willing to answer those arguably intrusive questions.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which administers the process — yes, the Mounties — report that only about two of every thousand applications is rejected. My brother-in-law, a hunter who lives in a Toronto suburb, has owned long guns all his adult life. So did my father-in-law before him.

Most Canadians don’t see these regulations as undue infringements on their personal freedom. Instead, they’re debating whether they need more. They worry that their gun-crime rate is growing, partly because Canadian criminals can smuggle firearms in from the United States.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, campaigning for reelection this year, has proposed a ban on assault weapons, and a recent poll found 72% of Canadians in favor. (Trudeau also considered a handgun ban; that was less popular, so he backed off.) The opposition Conservative Party, with many gun owners in its ranks, opposes the proposal, but it hasn’t called for a rollback of existing laws.

Of course, there’s one big difference between the United States and Canada: We have a 2nd Amendment, and they don’t.

“Canadians, unlike Americans, do not have a constitutional right to bear arms,” Canada’s Supreme Court ruled in 1993. “Indeed, most Canadians prefer the peace of mind and sense of security derived from the knowledge that the possession of automatic weapons is prohibited.”

Despite the constitutional distinction, Canada’s gun control debates sound much like ours. Canadian conservatives say gun ownership is a right even if it’s not in the constitution. The arguments are over which weapons to restrict, and how. But the tone is more civil; that’s still Canada’s biggest cultural difference from our fraying civilization.

Like us, they’ve had mass shootings, but far fewer, even on a per capita basis — roughly one a year. There have been none in Canada this year so far. We’ve had at least 255, or more than one a day, according to the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive. It defines a mass shooting as any incident in which at least four people were wounded or killed, excluding the shooter.

And that’s the point: With laws that make it harder to buy semiautomatic weapons but still allow widespread gun ownership, Canada has made itself much safer than the United States.

What’s unique about the U.S. isn’t mental illness, video games or the internet; those exist worldwide. Our problem is too many guns and too little regulation — plus the fact that President Trump and his party refuse to acknowledge that factor, much less fix it.

From here in rural Ontario, 600 miles north of Washington, Canada shows that the choice doesn’t need to be between mass shootings and gun confiscation. There is a sensible path between those extremes that protects both gun ownership and public safety. It’s our fault that we have chosen not to take it.

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Doyle McManus is a Los Angeles Times columnist.


(22) comments


Liberal judges is what’s wrong

A 29-year-old Kentucky man with a history of being declared incompetent to stand trial -- following allegations of sexual assault and other crimes -- is now accused in a brutal attack on an 8-year-old girl, according to reports. (Fox News)


Now I see how there’s more than one idiot liberal publicly hoping for a recession.

But, but, what about all those down trodden , poor, people liberals PRETEND to care about, a recession will hurt them the most! Wow, talk about TRUMP DERANGEMENT SYNDROME,!!! Liberals want to hurt the WHOLE country because they disagree with Trump. Is there a description for cry babies like them?


What liberals may hope for will not cause a recession. If we have a recession it will be caused by Trump's idiotic trade war with China and his fundamental misunderstanding of economics.


Climatehoax Raplin still doesn't know what a liberal is and doesn't understand the difference between weather and climate. Have another martini.


Message for kool-aid guzzling liberal loons, since caped brought up climate change, just trying to do my part to educate the unteachables.. . Time for me to get going and burn some fossil fuel.

Quotation of the day on the political hysteria and fear-mongering that is driving the climate change agenda

…. is from Joe Bastardi’s article “Climate change agenda is being driven by hysteria, not facts.” Bastardi is a pioneer in extreme weather and long-range forecasting and chief meteorologist at Weatherbell.com. He is the author of “The Climate Chronicles: Inconvenient Revelations You Won’t Hear From Al Gore — and Others.”

In this age of political hysteria, we must all educate ourselves on the facts – the actual science. Unfortunately, there seems to be a total lack of awareness about important issues that scientists like myself – who aren’t paid by research grants – are concerned about.

Instead, climate science is being used as a political weapon, and the voices of scientists like me are being ignored or even vilified. I was under the impression that in the United States, all voices and arguments should be heard. Climate science is not settled science. If it was, why would there be a continuous flow of money to research it? For example, is AOC aware that in the fossil fuel era, in spite of a four-fold increase in population, deaths have plummeted?


Perhaps we should pause and consider why none of the global warming models from two decades ago have come to fruition. Perhaps we should slow down and think about the consequences of allowing our adversaries to supply the world with cheap energy, because one thing is for sure – wind farms and solar panels won’t get the job done.

The objective reader should examine all sides of the climate debate and should ask himself: Are the consequences of acting hastily worse than not acting at all? I think many are skeptical of rushing forward. We must rein in the political hysteria and fear-mongering that is driving the climate change agenda.

Climate change


Joe Bastardi has a Bachelor's Degree in meteorology. He is not a climate scientist, He is a proponent of for profit forecasting. Do you go to the dentist for medical care, because meteorology and climate science are as different as dentistry and medicine. There is no debate about the reality of climate change among actual climate scientists. You know guys with a Ph. D. who spend a lifetime studying the issue and collaborating with others who also study it. That is how science works. They look at data and draw conclusions based on that data. If contradictory data is found they change the conclusion. Bastardi shows his idiocy when he states that climate science is not settled science, because money is still being spent on it. Most of the science that we consider important is not settled. As a matter of fact, I would argue no science is ever settled. Then he references Alexandr Ocasio Cortez (the bogywoman of the right) as if she is a scientist. Right there he shows his true colors. He is a partisan ideologue not a scientist.


Thank you again, Physics.


Wanna see red flags? and I mean very ,very bright red flags? Take a look any day, at climatehoax"s crazy,demented, whackjob styled comments and you will see just that.

His lamented obsession paranoia, with (someone) confiscating his massive amount, of firearms. is above and beyond frightening. If the Trib, and Lacrosse"s Sheriffs Dept. or local FBI office, isn"t checking the dude out, something is dreadfully wrong. He ain"t playing with a "full deck", quite obviously and that ain"t the kinda person you, want playing with guns. Remember : "if you see something-say something."



I’ll report you right away


Johnny check out this headline, it’s the same thing you said about Trump and David Clark, better lay low for a while they’re watching for wackos like you.

Ohio man, 41, is charged after threatening to shoot Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez by writing 'she should be shot' in a Facebook post and then boasting to cops he 'was proud' of the threats

Sound familiar? I wonder if the FBI can go through the Tribs comments and find your ‘bullet in the head comment’.?


David Clark, now there is a real nutbag. It somehow seems fitting that you ClimateDope would bring him up.


I'm one man, I have three guns. I keep them locked up so they don't run off, shooting people.


Here’s what’s wrong with us:

MSNBC guest says he wants 'pitchforks and torches' outside pro-Trump Equinox chairman's house

Where is the violence coming from?? Better take away torches and pitchforks because some loon liberal will hurt someone with them


what is wrong with us is the question. The answer simply put, people like Hoaxer. Hate upon hate. What a way to live, and to look at the world. I hope he doesn't have a dog, he isn't fit to take care of one properly. Hope he doesn't have kids like him. There are too many in the world like him. Way too many.


How much resentment towards brown people do you think is egged on by this field of DemoRat presidential hopefuls? They want the taxpayers, only half the people in the US, to pay for Medicare, education, housing, $1000 a month, reparations, and anything else that can buy a vote. I resent the fact I’ve paid into Medicare for 48 years and some one who enters our country ILLEGALLY may get it without a penny of contribution.


Removing guns is a power thing for the libs. Control, like Hitler.

“Stalin took the guns away and killed 20 million people,” he said. “Mao took the guns away and killed, like, 50 million people. So did Pol Pot, so did Castro.”

The liberal mind set is the same as these dictators, it can be seen daily in something as simple as wearing a hat will bring an assault from the lefties.

We don’t take cars away from people who don’t violate the law even though a few drive drunk, and recklessly and kill more people than guns and driving isn’t a constitutional right.


hoaxer dude, nobody cares about your extremist posts. Same old crapola every time you post something. Your logic is outstandingly stupid and childish. Best to keep it to yourself, lest you make a fool of yourself. OOps to late!


And your leftist drivel I’d sooooooo fresh, right?


Yes. Definitely, Climate. You once again prove to be the North Star of good reasoning for the rest of us trying to puzzle out these modern dilemmas. You have correctly identified liberals as being fascist, like Hitler, for wanting to impose government control on modern weaponry, which is so obviously not any different than the flint lock rifles used by the generation that wrote our Constitution and the second amendment. It would be useful for us to remember how liberal Nazis in the past tried to put government controls on other changing technologies, spuriously calling them too dangerous to let them be used in public without controls. Like the automobile. Remember how they wanted roads to have designated lanes dedicated to vehicles going in one direction or another, often insisting that stripes be painted on roadways to designate those lanes??? What a farce! Then they tried limit the speed at which drivers, who worked hard and paid good money to buy their own danged cars, drove them!! Especially in town and near schools! What wusses!!! And then they started insisting that you had to be a certain age to drive a car, and that you had to take classes learning how to drive, then PASS A TEST proving they were able to!!!! This is a democracy????? Thank God we have had a succession of common sense obstructionists like Mitch McConnell who were able to protect our freedoms and kept the government's hands off of our steering wheels!!!! God Bless America!


"Despite their diversity, all these killers had one thing in common: their uniquely American access to firearms.”........... and they live in a society that promotes antagonism, trash-talking, Us v. Them partisan political hate-fests, finger-pointing, scapegoating. no compromise, WIN at all costs discourse, seeing others as The Enemy, zero tolerance for people who look and live differently, and above all, a news media that profits greatly by televising all these dysfunctions 24/7.


Great column by Mr. Doyle, but he left out one thing that Canada doesn't have to deal with. And that's the NRA and its strangle hold on certain politicians in this country. Canada doesn't have lobbyists bribing their politicians and corrupting the system. Canada doesn't have a Moscow Mitch. Yes there is something wrong with us compared to the rest of the world. We allow this political corruption to continue, and some even embrace it, being too stupid to realize what is happening.


I agree, martian, though I know nothing about internal Canadian politics, or whether or not they have their own version of Moscow Mitch.

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