Students under the gun, legal guns
We, students of the 21st century, are the first generation to have grown up in the era of mass shootings.
In 2007, at Virginia Tech University, 33 people were shot and killed. In 2012, Sandy Hook, Connecticut, 20 children died from multiple bullet wounds. In 2018, Parkland, Florida, 17 students shot. Canadian schools: shootings at Dawson College, La Loche school, Saskatchewan, and the École Polytechnique in Montreal.
Gun violence concerns us directly in our streets, schools and homes. For four consecutive years, the firearm homicide rate in Canada has been rising, reaching its highest in 25 years in 2017.
In the face of the weapons lobby, politicians in Canada or the United States, persist in allowing the legal sale of assault weapons and large capacity magazines to civilians. Instead of laws to prevent such tragedies, these politicians respond by prioritizing “solutions” aiming to “prepare” us, such as active shooter drills in case a shooter bursts into our school. In the US, they are designing school buildings to increase children’s and teenagers’ chances of survival during a massacre.
Since when is it normal for society to prepare its youth to escape a violent death in the very place they are educated?
August 4 in Ohio, a 24-year-old with an assault weapon and a 100-bullet magazine killed 9 people and wounded 27 in 32 seconds. Had he a magazine with a maximum capacity of 5 cartridges, 4 lives could have been saved.
The need to reload offers a window of opportunity to neutralize the shooter. But the availability of powerful semi-automatic weapons is decisive in any mass shooting and limiting the capacity of magazines is a crucial component of gun control.
In Canada, the number of cartridges that can be inserted into a magazine can easily exceed the legal limit of 5 to 10 bullets. Yet magazines with 30, 50 and 100 bullets can legally be sold in Canada -- as long as a pin blocks the number at the legal limit. This pin can easily be removed, as was done by shooters Bissonnette (Mosque), Bain (Metropolis) and Bourque (three RCMP officers in Moncton).
Detachable magazines should be limited to five cartridges - without alteration.
In March 2019, New Zealand’s massacre at two mosques cost 49 lives. In seven days, the government boldly banned all assault weapons and large-capacity magazines.
In Canada, incomplete screening of licensed applicants has not been improved, and modifiable magazines, handguns and assault weapons remain legal, despite the majority of Canadians wishing to ban them.
The Canadian student movement “PAS_ICI / NOT_HERE”, representing 240,000 students, sent a questionnaire to all federal political parties. We plan to inform students across the country of the positions and promises of their candidates on gun control.
Alice Perié, Quebec
Engineering Student Outreach