I wonder how many people recognize the names, Hallie Scruggs, Evelyn Dieckhaus, or William Kinney. Probably not many and that is a crying shame.
These are the three children, eight and nine years of age, slaughtered, in a Nashville Tennessee school a few days ago. Promising young lives snuffed out, along with three innocent adults, by a former student at this Christian School, wielding an AR-15 semi-automatic assault weapon.
It is almost impossible to imagine what all of these surviving families are going through right now. I know many people who have children and grandchildren of that age, and it makes me sick to my stomach.
This is the latest of about 130 mass shootings in the United States since the beginning of 2023, averaging well more than one each and every day! In total, during that same 90-day period 9,870 individuals in the U.S. have been killed by gun violence.
When is this going to stop or at least be seriously reined in? I get it that the Second Amendment to the American Constitution in 1791, when muskets and single-shot rifles were the order of the day, made it legal for its citizens to bear arms. I understand inalienable rights and all of that, but when is the price too high?
Let’s look at this from another perspective. Twenty-six years ago, a gunman entered a primary school in Dunblane, Scotland killing 16 kids and a teacher. The U.K. Government responded by enacting tight gun control legislation. In the almost 9,500 days since then, there have been zero school shootings in the United Kingdom.
Can anyone give me a rational argument about why any person, other than those in the military or in police forces under certain conditions, needs automatic or semi-automatic assault weapons? Can anyone explain to me why banning books, as is happening in some jurisdictions, is more important than keeping assault weapons out of the hands of killers?
And frankly, I don’t give a rat’s ass whether the shooter in Nashville was transgender, as some politicians seem to think important. I don’t care if it was Minnie Mouse. The only fact that matters is that she was a killer with an assault weapon at her disposal, reportedly, legally purchased. There can be no excuse for that.
In my view, it is high time that the powerful gun lobby in the United States took a second seat to the availability of those weapons that were never intended to be in the hands of individuals whose jobs and training do not require them. That does not include all firearms, but it does include assault weapons with high-capacity magazines. Of course, that will never happen while the National Rifle Association and other gun lobbyists are allowed to be significant contributors to politicians’ campaign machines. It all comes down to money and that is the shame of it.
Firearms in Canada are federally regulated and gun control here is stricter than it is in the United States. But don’t think that what happens to our southern neighbour can’t happen here. It can and in fact, it does. One possible distinction here, perhaps because of stricter gun control measures, is that knives as well as guns are prominent in a growing number of murders and violent attacks.
During just the past ten days we have seen at least four violent deaths in Canada.
Edmonton Police Officers Travis Jordan and Brett Ryan were shot by a teenager when they were summoned to a domestic dispute. They had no chance to take out their own weapons. They were mowed down and they died. They were 30 and 35 years of age. The suspect, who took his own life, was “known to police”.
Sergeant Maureen Breau, a twenty-year veteran in Quebec’s Provincial Police Force, was stabbed to death on March 27 while attempting to make an arrest. She was a Mom with two children. She was scheduled to start a new assignment as a police investigator within four days. The suspect was reportedly known to have serious mental health issues. He was shot dead by police.
In Toronto, at the Keele Subway Station, Gabriel Magalhaes was stabbed to death in an unprovoked attack. He was sixteen years old and sitting quietly on a bench. Astoundingly, the attacker was out on probation for numerous offences including sexual assault on a woman.
Also, in Ontario this week there were two shooting incidents in Sudbury, one of which resulted in deaths and there was another violent shooting in London.
To all of this, I say enough already!
In Canada, the challenge as I see it, is not so much gun control, although there are still some issues there. Bill C-21 if passed by Parliament, will ban the sale or procurement of automatic and semi-automatic assault weapons. It will also impose stricter regulations on the ownership of handguns. That’s all it should do. Sporting rifles are still important in Canada.
What concerns me more is the lack of judicial backbone in letting people with criminal records, or with strong evidence of violence, or mental health issues related to violence, back on the street so they can do it again. Too many times we have seen the fatal result of that. Our bail system has more holes in it than Swiss Cheese. In my view, no person should be out on bail where there is sufficient evidence to charge them with a serious act of violence.
Light sentences, easy bail and paroles, too much emphasis on root causes, and not enough attention to the actual crimes and the chaos and grief they cause, shouldn’t cut it anymore.
Canada used to be known as a country that was tough on crime. I am not sure that is still the case in these populist times.
And that bothers me.
Hugh Mackenzie has held elected office as a trustee on the Muskoka Board of Education, a Huntsville councillor, a District councillor, and mayor of Huntsville. He has also served as chairman of the District of Muskoka and as chief of staff to former premier of Ontario, Frank Miller.
Hugh has also served on a number of provincial, federal and local boards, including chair of the Ontario Health Disciplines Board, vice-chair of the Ontario Family Health Network, vice-chair of the Ontario Election Finance Commission, and board member of Roy Thomson Hall, the National Theatre School of Canada, and the Anglican Church of Canada. Locally, he has served as president of the Huntsville Rotary Club, chair of Huntsville District Memorial Hospital, chair of the Huntsville Hospital Foundation, president of Huntsville Festival of the Arts, and board member of Community Living Huntsville.
In business, Hugh Mackenzie has a background in radio and newspaper publishing. He was also a founding partner and CEO of Enterprise Canada, a national public affairs and strategic communications firm established in 1986.
Currently, Hugh is president of C3 Digital Media Inc., the parent company of Doppler Online, and he enjoys writing commentary for Huntsville Doppler.
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