What we can learn about gun control across the border, in Canada

WINDSOR, Ontario - In proximity, the United States and Canada couldn’t be closer.  But when it comes to gun control, the two countries couldn’t be further apart. 

“A majority of the people do not feel the need to have a gun because we’re quite safe,” says Debbie Thorburn, a Windsor, Ontario resident.

In Canada, they talk about guns differently because they look at guns differently.

“You have the Second Amendment,” said Brian Green, a manager at General Guns in Windsor. “We don’t.”

Detroit, Michigan saw 302 homicides in 2016, with most involving a firearm. Across the river in Windsor, during the same time, there were only three. 

“I would think that most Canadians are squeamish around firearms and don’t want any part of it,” said Al Frederick, Windsor’s police chief. 

“The difference, I think in my view, is the accessibility to firearms,” he said. “We don’t have a culture of people that are eager to carry or seek out to carry a firearm.”

In Canada, unlike the U.S., it’s a crime for the average citizen to even walk around with a gun.  But that’s far from the only thing separating the two countries.

A first-time gun buyer in the United States can walk into a store and leave with a gun the same day; in Canada, it can take months.

The U.S. still allows for some gun purchases without a background check. That’s not the case in Canada, where they’re mandatory for any gun license. 

“Your file is given to an officer and it’s their job to go through it and prove that you are able to have a license,” said Brian Green of General Guns.

While there’s often a push to expand gun rights in the U.S., in Canada there are few leading that fight. As one Canadian told The Now this week, “Guns are a right where you live. They’re a privilege where we live.”

“I don’t think there’s a nation on Earth where they have armed their citizenry which has reduced violence,” Chief Frederick said.

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