“I could never live in the States again,” a Canadian friend who once lived in San Francisco told me this week. “Your cities are just too violent.” I’m in northern Ontario, bear country, where most hunters, farmers and loggers own guns. When they look at the United States, they think there’s something wrong with us.

President Donald Trump says we have so many mass shootings because of mental illness, video games and the internet. But Canada has mental illness, the internet and violent video games, too — the same video games, in the same language — and its rate of gun violence is far lower.

What’s the difference? Like every other developed country, Canada has stricter gun regulation and fewer guns per person than we do. The United States is the world’s undisputed champion in firearm ownership, with more guns than people: 121 civilian firearms per 100 inhabitants. Canada has about 35 per 100.

Doyle McManus mug

Doyle McManus

That might be one reason the United States has about seven times as many gun homicides (on a per capita basis) as Canada.

The search for causes of mass shootings isn’t so hard — unless you’re determined to obscure the fact that the United States, alone among advanced countries, allows unhinged people to obtain guns with ease.

White supremacists are part of the problem, but they’re not the whole problem. As the Canadian-born writer David Frum noted in the Atlantic this week, America’s mass shooters include “immigrants and natives; whites and nonwhites; Muslims and Christians; right-wingers, left-wingers and the nonpolitical. ...Despite their diversity, all these killers had one thing in common: their uniquely American access to firearms.”

So it might be useful to look at how another country, similar in culture, diversity and terrain, handles this dilemma.

Canada’s gun regulations aren’t draconian. Canadian federal law requires anyone who wants to own a gun to get a license, which means passing a background check and taking safety training — a process about as onerous as getting a driver’s license.

The application form is four pages long, and asks whether you have ever been convicted of a crime of violence, been the object of a protective order, or suffered from mental illness, depression or “emotional problems.”

It also asks whether you have recently experienced a divorce, separation, romantic breakup, job loss or bankruptcy. There’s a 28-day waiting period; the fee is $60 Canadian (about $45 U.S.).

The basic license covers rifles and shotguns, which are hunting weapons. Canadians can own handguns and semiautomatic weapons, too, but those require an additional license and training, and the guns must be registered.

Any sane, law-abiding Canadian can own guns if he or she is willing to answer those arguably intrusive questions.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which administers the process — yes, the Mounties — report that only about two of every thousand applications is rejected. My brother-in-law, a hunter who lives in a Toronto suburb, has owned long guns all his adult life. So did my father-in-law before him.

Most Canadians don’t see these regulations as undue infringements on their personal freedom. Instead, they’re debating whether they need more. They worry that their gun-crime rate is growing, partly because Canadian criminals can smuggle firearms in from the United States.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, campaigning for reelection this year, has proposed a ban on assault weapons, and a recent poll found 72% of Canadians in favor. (Trudeau also considered a handgun ban; that was less popular, so he backed off.) The opposition Conservative Party, with many gun owners in its ranks, opposes the proposal, but it hasn’t called for a rollback of existing laws.

Of course, there’s one big difference between the United States and Canada: We have a 2nd Amendment, and they don’t.

“Canadians, unlike Americans, do not have a constitutional right to bear arms,” Canada’s Supreme Court ruled in 1993. “Indeed, most Canadians prefer the peace of mind and sense of security derived from the knowledge that the possession of automatic weapons is prohibited.”

Despite the constitutional distinction, Canada’s gun control debates sound much like ours. Canadian conservatives say gun ownership is a right even if it’s not in the constitution. The arguments are over which weapons to restrict, and how. But the tone is more civil; that’s still Canada’s biggest cultural difference from our fraying civilization.

Like us, they’ve had mass shootings, but far fewer, even on a per capita basis — roughly one a year. There have been none in Canada this year so far. We’ve had at least 255, or more than one a day, according to the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive. It defines a mass shooting as any incident in which at least four people were wounded or killed, excluding the shooter.

And that’s the point: With laws that make it harder to buy semiautomatic weapons but still allow widespread gun ownership, Canada has made itself much safer than the United States.

What’s unique about the U.S. isn’t mental illness, video games or the internet; those exist worldwide. Our problem is too many guns and too little regulation — plus the fact that President Trump and his party refuse to acknowledge that factor, much less fix it.

From here in rural Ontario, 600 miles north of Washington, Canada shows that the choice doesn’t need to be between mass shootings and gun confiscation. There is a sensible path between those extremes that protects both gun ownership and public safety. It’s our fault that we have chosen not to take it.

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Doyle McManus is a Los Angeles Times columnist.


(23) comments


Amazing, simply amazing rationalizations! But, as POTUS settles further down on his own petard, we sit and spit, as the house burns with us in it.


ms - Good job on your last post. When you don’t have anything valid to say and can’t defend your position, just go right to personal attack. Straight from the Democrats Play Book.


Bo: "To lie about it puts you in the same league as Trump." A tell, perhaps.

Also, the "I do not need someone to tell..." Another tell?

We are society and we do what society as a group decides to do. If that means how you and tools the tools are managed, amen! Deal with it.

Will is right, it is all an embarassment, not just POTUS.

Get a life by growing up.


JD - You stated “You always assume I'm anti-gun or pro gun control or some crapola. Which is not true.” Obviously you lied, you are anti-gun, pro gun control. Nothing wrong with being anti-gun and pro gun control, just admit it. To lie about it puts you in the same league as Trump. Lol


"Glad to see from your earlier post that you are not anti-gun or pro gun control. What’s your favorite hand gun? Do you prefer The AR over AK? What shooting sports do you participate in?"

Hehehehe. Wow. That quite obviously shows and speaks volumes to virtually everything about the dimwit person that you are Bo. LOL!


Hive – Trump bans Bump Stocks after Vegas shooting and you can’t even bring you self to say he did something positive or good. Talk about being full of vile political schidt! Then You +1 ms who wants to regulate Military style weapons and high capacity magazines and ammo belts, yet he can’t even explain what they are. On top of that, you come out and say such regulations are “So Simple”. There is no “Simple” magic bullet that will end gun violence and mass shootings. Criminals and crazy people don’t care about gun laws. I would support more stringent background check, a better data base for background checks, including checking into social media data for any person buying a firearm. You mentioned “common sense”. Common sense to me would be for congress to pass the long overdue Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2019. Why are people who are legally licensed to carry, not allowed to carry in the cities like Chicago, Baltimore and Los Angeles?

I to favor "stop and frisk" and strict sentencing for criminal concealed and use of weapons. However, many would consider that Racist. Unfortunately, dope is more dangerous as yehoos with guns. IMO

My Life, My Choice. I don’t need someone like ms who doesn’t own firearms and that doesn’t know Jack Schidt about firearms telling me what I can own to protect my life and the life of my family.


Bo! You are full of vile political schidt!


mssnater +1. So simple. I would add, I still favor "stop and frisk" plus draconian sentencing for criminal concealed weapons...I mean DRACONIAN...like 30 years, no deals.

Dope is not as dangerous as yehoos with guns, basically, IMHO and am a long-time shooter and former NRA fan...back in Civilian Marksman days...common sense....


ms - Exactly what is a “ Military Weapon “? What is an “ammo belt”? Have you ever shot a gun at a rate of 1 round every .6 seconds. That’s not easy to do for an extended period of time.

Trump signed executive order banning Bump Stocks., but I don’t see you, Hive JD or Kill giving him any credit for taking action against such devices.

Thank God you don’t get to choose what I use to defend my life. My life my choice.


Bo you are weak, scared little man. No I have never shot a gun for 11 minutes emptying 1100 rounds into a crowd of people and I dont intend to but the Las Vegas shooter did. Matter of fact he switched guns, reloaded, changed positions, and changed his angles. The 1100 rounds in 11 minutes was AN AVERAGE! If you believe idiots like yourself should be allowed to have fire power like that then you are a sick, sick little man.


Military style weapons and high capacity magazines and ammo belts need to be regulated. The Las Vegas shooter emptied 1100 rounds in eleven minutes. That is 1 round every .6 seconds. Boom, boom, boom, boom, say that for 11 minutes. NO CIVILIAN, needs to have that kind of fire power unless they want to kill alot of people in a short period of time.


JD - You do realize the two videos I posted were of Black men speaking about gun rights and whom should be blamed. Are these two Black men Anti-Black?

Also your opinion of me and or my beliefs do not make them facts. They are just your foolish and obviously incorrect assumption of who I am.

Glad to see from your earlier post that you are not anti-gun or pro gun control. What’s your favorite hand gun? Do you prefer The AR over AK? What shooting sports do you participate in?


Ok, I will explain. You have hate and vitriol spewing from the right. Anti-immigrant, anti-black, anti-jew. And then when some white nationalist pulls the trigger, it's specifically that individual's fault?

And then you ask, totally ignorantly,

"Why can’t I point my finger at the Guy that pulled the trigger and committed the murder?"

Those hateful beliefs you espouse perhaps? The ones I call you out on, and in recent times, undoubtedly the largest factor in facilitating the violent mass shooting narrative in this country more than anything else.

The hate from the right reaps what it sows. But worse yet Bo, idiots like you don't think u should be held responsible for it. So go point that finger right at yourself man. Because you are more to blame than any hollywood mogul, video game, gun owner or supposed mental patient for many of these mass shootings...

So yes. It is more your fault, your POTUS, and your party, for many of these murders happening. What wonderful Jesus loving Christians you all must be. LOL. Wow...


JD - Colion Noir does not yell and he speaks volumes of truth. The other gentleman did raise his voice in disgust and frustration because people like you point fingers at guns and law abiding

citizens and tell us all the time why it it is our fault people are murdered.

Why can’t I point my finger at the Guy that pulled the trigger and committed the murder?

Pro Choice advocates have a saying “My body, my choice “. If that is an acceptable justification

for abortion, then it is an acceptable justification for owning an AR-15 or AK-47.

Please explain why I am to blame for the actions of these mass shooters.


Hive - Biased, yes. We are all biased. Bogus, no.


Half jagged test the wdn horribly coded sentence separation cr parsing, why did u change this wt?f??

1cr. Test...

2cr. Test....

3cr. Test....

4cr. Test....


I watched your 2 videos Bo and they were garbage. Loud, ranting, ignorant fools. Bullroar. Point fingers at criminals. Promote a constitutional right that ignorantly and incorrectly has come to collectivize the right to own guns. Drivel. Yes that constitutional right, amendment #2, was never meant to entitle all law abiding citizens to carry guns. It was put in there as a constitutional revolutionary clause that if government ever became corrupt, we could overthrow it without them taking away a means to do so, weapons, within the context of a militia. But due to ambiguity and equivocation, it has been seized upon by people to entitle them the right to own guns. Which I'm fine with.

See Bo, this is why I think your arguments are sucky. They point fingers at other things just like the liberals points fingers at the guns. Criminals, the left, hollywood. Anything for the conservative right to not take collective responsibility for the violent narrative of our country. Villianize rather than find solutions. Each American needs to look in the mirror and realize we're criminals too. We're partially culpable and to blame for the actions of these mass shooters. Through either the culture we promote, or the accessibility to weapons we provide. And Bo? You always assume I'm anti-gun or pro gun control or some crapola. Which is not true. It's just that both sides are so friggin' stupid in their arguments, it's insane.


Bo, your Youtube "reference" is bias bogusness! Please be more circumspect, some of us are not very smart!

Don Steele

America is one of only two nations which allow direct pharmaceutical advertising. Has this helped America to become the largest user of pharmaceuticals in the world, Too much of that product holds possible side effect of creating depression and homicidal and suicidal thoughts. Americans are the largest consumer of illegal narcotics. This is a recipe for social problems, and amidst all public discussion of our national violence there is no public discussion of these facts.

Solve our daily violence? Our institutions are unwilling to even engage into in depth discussion regarding the reasons behind it, lest that discussion be damaging to special interests. What's wrong with us? We've allowed special interests to guide too many of our governments actions, and they're guiding it to mainly serve their special interest, at too great a cost to our society.




Kill - Perhaps Canadians are just by and large nicer, gentler, less murderous than Americans. Look at the stats. Canadians use less drugs, rape less , commit less violent crimes and the list goes on and on. We are a far more evil violent nation.


JD - Isn’t the main argument for Abortion “My body, my choice “? Well the same can be said for AK’s and AR’s. My body, my life, my choice, I chose to protect it an AR-15 and AK 47.

Instead of blaming law abiding gun owners put the blame where it belongs.



If Americans want the freedom to carry any weapon and all weapons, with little to no restrictions, then we have to pay the piper with blood on our "Amurikan" altar of freedom to have them. That means innocent people, families and school children must die, just so we can own an AK and a AR. You're right kill, perhaps that is pretty darn lazy and furthermore irresponsible to us and future generations...


Americans, by and large, are lazy...!

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