EDITORIAL: Taking aim at gun violence

Just going to school should never have to be considered an act of bravery.

The school shooting in Florida last week, which left at least 17 dead, is reportedly the 18th one so far this year in the United States. That’s right, this year.

Canada is not immune to school shootings. The 1989 killing of 14 female students at L’Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal stands out, even 26 years later. Sadly, it’s not the only incident; there’s been at least a dozen since 1975.

That pales in comparison to 138 people killed in at least 239 school shootings in the U.S. since a gunman killed 20 first graders and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012. You can’t blame parents for worrying about the safety of their children as they see them off on the school bus.

There are no easy answers or simple solutions for these events. The reasons for each are as individual as the warped minds of the perpetrators.

Gun control is certainly the start of an answer, something that no U.S. government has yet to embrace, especially not the government of Donald Trump, who refused to address that aspect of the problem in a speech Thursday morning.

Opponents of stricter gun controls in the U.S. essentially claim the country’s mass shootings are the price of “freedom.” We’d just as soon be free from the likelihood of being shot while going about our day-to-day lives.

Canada might have better gun controls, but we also can’t sit back and say it can’t happen here — it clearly can. We need to be sure this is a problem that continues to be addressed, with continuing control of assault weapons like the AR-15, used by the Florida shooter and popular with others of his ilk.

But that’s only part of protecting our kids. We also need to support mental health programs, ensuring that people get the help they need before it’s too late. And we also need to fight back against the culture of hate — according to the Anti-Defamation League, the Florida shooter previously trained with a white nationalist militia — that also plays a part in so many of these shootings.

— Black Press

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