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Warren KInsellaCould Orlando have happened here?

Canada has had its share of Islamic terrorists, of course: The attack on Parliament Hill, and several other attacks in the past decade, have made that clear enough.

We’ve had no shortage of hate crimes, too: l’Ecole Polytechnique was indisputably one against women, and minority communities are still regularly subjected to violent hate – for their faith, their skin colour, their sexual orientation.

We almost certainly have the same percentage of untreated mentally ill people, too. As the recently concluded trial of a University of Calgary student who committed mass-murder showed, sometimes a mentality ill person commits horrific acts of violence.

So, if Orlando was inspired by al-Qaeda or ISIS, we haven’t been immune to any of that.

But there is one critical difference. Here, unlike down there, we do not make it easy for killers to get guns. Unlike in the United States, Canada has not elevated gun ownership to a state religion.

The statistics grimly bear this out. One that was pinging around Twitter: “Canada has had eight mass shooting in 20 years. America has had seven since last Monday.” I don’t know if that is scrupulously accurate, but it sounds about right.

Orlando’s causality, then, could have been Islamic terror, or hate crime, or mental illness. But its methodology was the shocking ubiquity – and the easy accessibility – of guns in the United States of America.

Right about now, some gun nut loser is moving his lips, reading what I’ve written, and is readying to deploy the usual barrage of B.S. statistics favoured by that terrorist group, the NRA. Sitting in their jammies in their mother’s basement, the gun fetishists will argue it’s all about mens rea, not actus reus. They always do.

But they’re wrong. Just ask my friend Anthony Aleksik. Anthony took to Facebook this week to point out – methodically, factually – how the Orlando killer (who I refuse to name) could not have murdered 49 innocents here as easily as he did there.

Here’s an edited summary of what Anthony wrote:

  1. Before applying for a Restricted Possession and Acquisition License (RPAL), [the killer] would have had to have attended a two-day course, at a cost of around $150-$250.
  1. [The killer] would have then had to send in an application and $80 to the Canadian Firearms Program, administered by the RCMP in New Brunswick. His ex-wife would have had to have signed off on it – and he would have needed two other signatures of people who have known him for more than two years. Extensive background checks and reference calls by the RCMP would have raised red flags.
  2. In the event he did pass the application process, around a month (or two, in some provinces) after applying, he would have gotten his RPAL in the mail. Twenty-eight days is the legislated minimum waiting period.
  3. He could then have walked into a gun store and purchased a Sig Sauer MCX (an AR-15 variant) and a Glock 17 [as the killer did]. First, though, the guns would have to be registered, which can take from between one and 15 days. A membership with a gun range would be required, too, as target shooting is a legal reason to own a restricted firearm in Canada. Collecting is also a legal reason, but you’d better own a museum, belong to a historical society, have a few published papers, and possess a reputation in the collecting and historical community.
  4. So now he owns the guns – with trigger locks on, and locked in cases in the trunk of his car. If he drives anywhere other than between his home and the range, he’s breaking the law. And not breaking-the-speed-limit-type of breaking the law, either. Five-years-in prison-breaking-the-law. Each movement of the guns outside this home-and-range route would require a separate Authorization to Transport (ATT).

And so on, and so on. You get the point.

Unlike me, Anthony is a conservative type who opposes stricter gun laws. But, like me, he’s an Albertan and a gun owner.

As someone who has been through the gun course, and filled out the forms and whatnot, I can also testify that the Orlando mass-murderer would have been stopped, here, at any number of other steps in the process. The requirement that his ex-wife – who told the media he was violent and beat her – agreed to the purchase of guns. The disclosure of mental illness. The background check that is truly comprehensive. The waiting periods that go on for months.

In Canada, like in the U.S., we have homicidal extremists. We have sadistic hate criminals. We have people who are mentally ill and violent. We sadly have all that, just like in the States.

But here, unlike there, we don’t make it easy for any of those individuals to get guns. And that is the main reason why Orlando couldn’t so easily happen here. And hasn’t.

Warren Kinsella is a Canadian journalist, political adviser and commentator.

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