People want answers.
But until the two survivors of the second-deadliest shooting in U.S. are medically stable, not much more light can be shed on the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. And we’ll never know what went through 20-year-old Adam Lanza’s mind as he opened fire on a classroom of people.
With 26 lives stolen, focus quickly turned to the two pistols and semi-automatic rifle, Bushmaster AR-15, used in the massacre. “Gun control” was muttered from the lips of Americans and the National Rifle Association (NRA), which spent approximately $24 million in the state’s last election, reportedly went uncharacteristically silent.
“1 guy gets on a plane with a failed shoe bomb: everyone takes off their shoes at airports. 31 school shootings since Columbine…?” was a quote that ripped through Twitter like wild fire.
In Canada, the Bushman AR-15 is a restricted weapon. Former Prime Minister Jean Chretien’s attempt to prohibit the firearm failed because the rifle was used in nationwide service rifle target shooting competitions, granting it a sporting exception.
But one big difference between our frostbitten selves and neighbours to the south is ammunition limits. Under the Criminal Code of Canada, semi-automatic, centre-fire ammunition rifles, such as the Bushmaster AR-15, have to be altered so the maximum magazine capacity is five cartridges — five bullets before one reloads. In the U.S., there’s no limitation. The Bushman can hold a 30-round magazine, enough bullets to wipe out an entire classroom of people.
Gun control is only a part of the solution. Honduras, a country where approximately six out of every 100 people own guns, leads the world in arms-related homicides per capita. Then there are nations like Iceland, where there are 30 guns for every 100 people — the same percentage as Canada — and yet the country is free of arms-related murders.
Caring and understanding about mental health issues is a large chunk of the puzzle. United States prisoners have rates of mental illness that are two to four times higher than members of the general public, but the country spends a smaller portion of its health-care budget on mental health than Britain, Australia and Canada, according to a report published by the country’s mental health services.
Beyond the rules and regulations, it comes down to mentality. The United States leads the world’s nations in gun ownership — 88 guns for every 100 human beings. It’s a sign of our self-centred lifestyles. It’s all about us against Big Brother, against The Man, against the unknown. It’s time to reach out, venture out and say “hi” to our neighbour. The world’s not a scary place. The more people you meet, the more one realizes we’re all a part of this giant web of humanity. We share more similarities than differences.