SIMPLY SPEAKING: Harper needs to stand up for gun control

The House of Commons returned from summer recess last Monday. I don’t know about you but I miss recess. It’s fun to leave your work at your desk and run outside to the playground and play games like hide-and-seek. But I don’t think that MPs appreciate recess or hide-and-seek; now that recess is over, they’re “it.”

The media wants to talk about the Dawson shooting, which has been all over the news lately.

At first I was surprised by how much Canadians across the country were affected by the shooting. I grew up 30 minutes outside of Detroit. I could turn on my TV and watch a new murder on the news every night. So what if Dawson College was pumped full of bullet holes? Many Detroit schools are full of bullet holes. What makes Dawson so special? It’s Canadian, that’s what.

I remember the Columbine massacre. I was in junior high at the time and it seemed like every boy I knew was obsessed with it and all of its accessories like guns, trench coats and bombs. I can imagine the same junior high boys today playing Super Dawson Massacre just like Kimveer Gill played Super Columbine Massacre.

Should we be scared that a few years from now there will be another school shooting? Lots of journalists and politicians think so, and they all want to talk about it-except Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

When asked about what his government planned to do on gun control, Harper ducked the issue. “Frankly,” he said, “I think it’s not a day for a discussion of policies. I can only note that obviously the current laws did not prevent this incident, and as a government we are seeking more effective laws for the future.”

That was a dumb move. I thought he was one of those suave, sophisticated political types. Obviously I was wrong. A smart politician would have said something more sympathetic while still blowing off reporters’ questions.

Last Monday, Stevie tried to sound more suave and sophisticated. He made some points about things unrelated to the Dawson shootings, like criminal sentences. But Kimveer Gill never made it to trial. Stevie also pointed out that Canadian gun laws did not stop the killer from getting a weapon and called this failure “not acceptable.” I think the word he was looking for was “unacceptable.” He ignored the issue everyone wants him to talk about-gun control.

The press likes to compare the Dawson shootings to the École Polytechnique massacre of 1989, which spurred the gun control movement and led to the establishment of the gun registry. Harper was in the process of getting rid of the registry when the shootings occurred. Now the press wants to know what he’s going to do. Harper likes to point to the shooting as proof that the registry didn’t work, but one school shooting is not enough to prove that.

Right now the debate about the gun registry is going nowhere. In fact, it appears to have very little to do with the shooting. Gill used a registered gun to kill people. Anyone can use a registered gun to kill people-even mentally stable people who aren’t social rejects. It’s time for Harper to stop dancing around the questions and tell us what he is going to do about gun control.

On my last flight to Canada, the guy sitting next to me told me how Canadian cities were getting more violent because people were getting used to the idea of murder. Surely you don’t want Canada to turn into the United States, where the National Rifle Association has more power than many politicians and the public doesn’t even blink when someone is shot. Tell Mr. Harper that guns need to be controlled.

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