Recently, the headlines were again dominated by news of yet another mass shooting in the United States, this one the most deadly in modern American history, the subject of gun control is the inevitable follow up.
It’s often a time when Canadians tend to look down their noses at their boorish American neighbors and question why they can’t just be more like us when it comes to gun control. But perhaps it’s time for Canadians to take a harder look at the yardstick by which we measure our moral superiority.
It’s a commonly known fact that far more people are killed by firearms in the United States per capita than in Canada.
As a stark reminder, the mass shooting in Las Vegas killed 59 people and left more than 500 injured. The largest mass shooting in Canada’s recent history was the 1989 Montreal Massacre at Ecole Polytechnique, which killed 14 women.
The United States has six times as many homicides by firearms as Canada. In fact, more Americans die after being shot with a firearm than Canadians do as a result of car accidents.
It’s commendable that our numbers fall so far below our southern cousins, but if we take the United States out of the equation our moral high ground quickly becomes much less stable.
According to the Human Development Index, the United States averages 29.7 gun deaths per 1 million people and Canada averages 5.1. But if one includes other developed countries like the Netherlands (3.3), Austria (2.2), and New Zealand (1.6), the Canadian stats begin to lose their luster.
In Canada, one is roughly three and a half times more likely to be killed by a firearm than in Australia.
The rate of suicide by firearm in Canada is also more than 12 times that of England and Wales.
In Ontario, an average of one person under the age of 25 is shot every day. The vast majority of these incidents (75% are accidental). Between 2008 and 2012, doctors at the Hospital for Sick Children and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences found there are 355 injuries every year in Ontario involving youth under the age of 25.
According to Statistics Canada, there were 178 firearm-related homicides in 2015, 23 more than the previous year. The rate of firearm-related homicides had increased by 14 percent to 0.50 per 100,000 population (compared to 0.44 in 2014) and was the highest reported rate since 2010 (0.51). The most recent numbers reveal the biggest increases in gun deaths by province were reported in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.
While the United States boasts a staggering 310 million guns (nearly one for every person in the country), Canada is estimated to have about 10 million, or 31 guns for every 100 people. However, Canada pales in comparison to European nations like Italy (11.9 guns per 100 people), Ireland (4.3 guns per 100 people) or Poland (1.3 guns per 100 people).
When the numbers are all tallied up, it suggests that Canada needs to spend less time pointing fingers and more time fixing the flaws in its own system.