Around 10:45 a.m., I decided it was time to turn off Lego Stars Wars and turn our attention to real war, and all those who have fought, or continue to fight, for our freedom. First, I had to get Max Skywalker on board. He really had no idea what Remembrance Day was all about. My super-simplified explanation went something like this...
Barely a day goes by in Toronto, or any large city, without some reminder of the pain and damage caused by gun violence. While most agree it's a serious issue, the best way to address it remains a topic of considerable debate. Do we need more police? Better grass-roots community programs? Stricter gun control laws? In this latest installment of our popular series "Change My Mind," Huffpost asked two panelists from today's Direct Engagement Show "Putting the gunz down" town hall to debate the statement: Government can solve Toronto's gun violence problem.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) doesn't speak for gun owners, not even for its members. The NRA speaks for gun makers and gun sellers. And the message is simple: buy more guns. Not wanting to see the door cracked open even an inch, the NRA fights any and all restrictions on guns and actively works to loosen those that exist. A good starting position. Even if the NRA loses a skirmish here or there, the Guns "R" Us nation they've helped create is protected.
What exactly is so "unthinkable" about Friday's school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, when it almost seems to happen on a regular basis? There is public outpouring of "sentiment" across all forms of social media and then...Nothing. It's time for the supposedly sentimental to drop the notion that this is not the moment for discussion, but rather the time for emotion and prayer. President Obama should not be crying, the flag should not be lowered; they ought to do away with temporary sentimentality, and finally take action regarding gun control. After all, with so many of these types of tragedies under their belt, shouldn't the Americans be rather immune to this sort of thing?
While I had long believed in gun control, its importance hit home for me after losing my mother at the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007. Like many Canadians, I took some comfort in the strong Canadian laws and the seeming lack of comparable influence of the Canadian gun lobby compared to their NRA cousins in the US. However, the changes to Canadian gun laws over the past year show that this sense of comfort was naive.
The Aurora shooting was a true tragedy. Sadly, all of the guns used in the massacre were purchased legally in the U.S. In Canada, we pride ourselves on being a peaceful and non-violent nation. For decades, Canadians have recognized the importance of remaining vigilant about gun control. But the passage of Bill C-19 -- and the abolishment of the long gun registry -- not only resulted in the loss of an important public safety tool, it also represented a step toward adopting more lenient gun control laws in Canada.
There are several reasons why America hosts most of the recent mass slaughterings. While such incidents can happen anywhere, they are most prevalent in free, or democratic countries. In autocratic or repressive regimes, mass killings by explosives are for political reasons - Chechen terrorism in the Moscow theatre bombing or the Beslan school massacre. But not random, mindless slaughter. There is no logical way to prevent such massacres in a democracy.
The gas-masked gunman who opened fire at a theatre full of people, killing twelve and injuring dozens more, reportedly had a shotgun, two pistols, an assault rifle, gas canisters, and potentially explosives in his home. What I don't understand is how it can possibly be alright for a civilian to have access to these kinds of weapons.
In this edition of One On One, Mansbridge does a competent job debriefing the distinguished CBC foreign correspondent Susan Ormiston, back in London after her latest foreign assignment. So why do journalists like Susan Ormiston volunteer to go to all these places where people kill each other, and too often kill journalists who might as well have targets painted on their flak jackets?