There are many statutory holidays we share in common with our American neighbours…or should I spell that neighbors. One of the more notable exceptions is Thanksgiving. They celebrate it in November while for us we always mark the occasion in mid-October.
This year, perhaps more so than others, I am taking a moment to to reflect on how thankful I am to be Canadian and reside in Metro Vancouver. While no place on Earth is perfect, there is something about where we live that provides for many valid reasons to be thankful.
Take for example what we witnessed in Las Vegas last week – it can only be described as pure evil. Sadly, it is a manifestation of a culture that for too long has revered gun ownership as a constitutional birth right – while at the same time mourning the loss of countless innocent victims killed as result of gun violence. It is a frightening and disturbing dichotomy that no doubt will continue to play itself out in the months and years to come.
If you live in Canada, you are by no means immune from gun violence. Far too often we watch the six o’clock news and hear of another gangland style shooting on the streets of Metro Vancouver and other urban centres.
Yet I believe what sets us apart from our southern neighbours is both the breadth of the violence and the way in which we as citizens and our government reacts to the carnage.
For example, read what was published in the Chicago Tribune earlier this year:
“At the year’s midpoint, 323 people have died in Chicago violence — one more homicide than a year earlier. With the bulk of the summer still ahead, the city is on course at that pace to top 700 homicides for a second consecutive year, a mark that had otherwise not been reached in two decades.”
Sadly, Chicago is not alone when it comes to rampant gun violence and the thousands of homicides that ensue – it just happens to be the worst of a bad lot.
Their cycle of violence goes something like this.
The bad guys buy guns.
The other bad guys buy more guns to kill the bad guys with guns.
Joe SixPack, living in fear of the bad guys with guns, exercises his right to buy guns to protect himself.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) lobbies the US government to ensure the right of Joe SixPack to buy a gun is protected.
NRA lobbying makes it easier for the bad guy to get guns…and so it goes.
It’s a never-ending vicious cycle that most learned individuals will tell you only ends up in more tragedy, more massacres and a deterioration of law and order on the streets.
In Canada, while there is a long history of using guns to hunt in rural and remote parts of our country – gun ownership is not a birth right. For the most part, the types of weapons sold here are meant to facilitate the hunting of big game, not fellow human beings.
Contrast that to what you will experience south of the border. Want to purchase a violent weapon which in a matter of a minutes can be converted into an automatic assault weapon? It’s as easy as driving to your local big box retail store or going online to purchase a few inexpensive retrofit items. Want to buy 40 of them? No problem, there are few if any measures in place to restrict anyone for doing such a thing.
Our society, mainly through the direct actions of the government[s] we elect, has consistently sent a very strong message that we will not facilitate nor tolerate the type of gun violence we just witnessed in Nevada.
Without a “second amendment” to hinder us, our collective goal has been to make it as difficult and challenging for anyone with evil intent to get their hands on weapons similar to those used by that Las Vegas madman.
I support all of those efforts and I know most law abiding Canadians feel the same way. However, we must not let our guard down and should continue to ensure that assault weapons never make their way into Canada – nor into the hands of a man with ill intent.
If you are Canadian and live in Metro Vancouver you most certainly have a lot to be thankful for this weekend. Whether it’s our fresh air and clean environment or the right to vote and free speech – we are lucky to live in a part of the world that has become the envy of so many who have been struck by endemic poverty, illness and a lack of freedom.
To my fellow Canadians I say have a very Happy Thanksgiving and be grateful you live in the best country on the planet! Get out there and enjoy everything it has to offer.