According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a mass shooting is four or more casualties. One hears of the mass shootings in the United States in bars and even churches. Sadly, amongst many Canadians we have developed a numbness to the news because the repeatedness of these horrible incidents.
However, when it involves a school, it hurts different. It’s the innocence of the children, the fact school should be a safe place for both students and teachers.
When an obvious mentally unhealthy 18 year-old Uvalde, Texas resident decided to shoot his grandmother because she was going to her local communications provider to adjust his phone privileges and then boasted to a younger teenage girl in Germany that he was going to shoot up an elementary school. As a result, 19 children from the ages of 8-10 and two teachers including one teacher, Irma Garcia, who died shielding her students. Garcia’s husband died two days later of a heart attack after placing flowers at the memorial at the school, leaving behind their four children including the youngest who was in Grade 7.
For years, these school shooting have been happening. Since the Columbine shootings in 1999, Everytown Research reports that there have been 11 mass shootings and many hundred smaller ones which have affected every state since then. This reported gun violence has affected a combined 278,000 students directly and who knows how many indirectly. According to this data from Everytown Research, the United States averaged just over 87 school shootings each year from 2013 to 2021, which worked out to an annual average of 28.4 dead and 59.6 wounded.
The images are terrifying and the aftermath devastating. The 22 people who lost their lives (including the gunman) at the Texas elementary school wasn’t even the largest in the U.S. That horrible distinction belongs to Virginia Tech which had 33 people die in 2007. A Florida high school saw 17 student perish with another 17 wounded. In Connecticut 2012 — before turning the gun on himself a — a shooter killed 20 first graders and six adults.
It goes on and on. They are numbers, but each of those who died left friends and family to mourn, a profession to think twice about school and just some sadness about humanity in general.
Say what you want about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the government of Canada. Not the best government for Western Canada with the seemingly favouritism for Ontario and Quebec, the decimation of the energy sector which has fuelled Alberta’s economy for years, but for those who want to separate and not only separate but then join the United States, I humbly will say no thanks.
Canada doesn’t have the United States mindset of the “right to bare arms.” The U.S. mentality is to fight, a propensity for violence and a desire to protect themselves. If the mentality was different, there would be no concern for having to defend themselves.
Canada doesn’t have that issue because unlike the second amendment of the U.S. Constitution where people have the right to own firearms, in Canada the restrictions are much more difficult. There has to be the passing of a course, getting a licence including a background check, while not infallible, (black market, mental mindset change etc). It has cut down the amount of gun fire in Canada.
While the restrictions for owning firearms can anger those who use it for the right reasons i.e. hunting, respectable sports like target and skeet shooting, it seems like a good trade off, more peace of mind than the American neighbours with those kinds of aforementioned school numbers.
However, with the recent uprising against the federal government due to its controversial policies, there is those possibilities. Federal Liberals have cancelled rallies and public functions in both B.C. and Ontario last week due to threats of violence. One famous making the rounds on social media was a replica model hanging noose which had written on it “Trudeau” and “treason.”
Those who have their “F— Trudeau” signs say that could never happen here, it’s just a progression of even nastier feelings. Just saw one truck window in High River which stated “I need you to take Trudeau to the train station.” This is a reference to the U.S.-made western T.V. show where the fictional Wyoming family dumps the bodies of its enemies over a cliff.
Gee, how hilarious. Apparently, you can get this eloquent sentiment on a T-shirt as well.
Don’t think that level of gun violence can happen here in Alberta? Ask the people in Nova Scotia how a deranged person randomly shot and killed over 20 people there. Closer to home, ask Southern Alberta resident Dale Lang whose son Jason was killed and was one of two shot at W.R. Myers High School in Taber. The other student shot with Jason was the son of a co-worker of mine.
It just happened at a Calgary high school last week where a teenage student brought a real gun to school. It happened at my child’s school where a student brought a toy replica gun and the police were called in.
It’s just that easy. It only takes one person who has easy access to a firearm, and not feeling quite right. Thank goodness it’s not a regular occurrence north of the border.
What is the answer? Better attitude, better mindsets. We can disagree. We can be angry but carrying replica nooses, and displaying “I need you to take Trudeau to the train station” window stickers etc, is just leading us down an ugly path. We need more compassion, empathy, real listening by everyone and more emphasis on mental health and social programs for those who really need it.
Politicians need to get out of their posh ivory towers and see what’s going on in society. Why are people angry and holding angry rallies? That being said, when politicians want to earnestly communication, grotesque frustration cannot be in the form of vile T-shirts and window stickers or fake hanging nooses. Yeah, it’s just one extreme person right?
It only took one extreme person who was angry about a cell phone who took the lives of 19 Grade 2-4 children and two teachers. Want to be that family?
Ryan Dahlman is the managing editor of Prairie Post West, Prairie Post East and the 40-Mile Commentator.