March 1996. A man stormed into a school in Scotland, UK, with four handguns. He murders 16 children and their teacher. Barely a month later, it’s also horror in Australia. A gunman kills 35 people and injures 23 in the quiet village of Port Arthur, Tasmania.
These massacres are so shocking to these countries that significant changes are being made to their gun laws. London and Canberra want to partially disarm their populations. Ownership of handguns is in most cases banned for citizens of the United Kingdom, with the exception of Northern Ireland.
Australia also banned all guns that had more than two shots in the firing system. So from then on there were no more mass killings; the same in England, except for terrorist attacks. But that’s another mattercomments Francis Langlois, professor of history at the Cégep de Trois-Rivières and specialist in firearms.
In Australia, 650,000 guns were returned to the state shortly after the Port Arthur massacre. According to Australian government data, in the seven years following the 1996 shootings, the firearm suicide rate fell by 57% and the firearm homicide rate fell by 42%.
More recently, New Zealand also enacted significant gun restrictions following the Christchurch bombings by a far-right gunman that killed 50 people on March 15, 2019. Six days later, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the country would be banned from semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles.
The example of Israel
Restricting access to firearms saves lives, concludes Francis Langlois.
Such is the case in Israel, which has a lower homicide rate than Canada: 1.5 per 100,000 people in 2019, compared to 1.95 for Justin Trudeau’s country in 2020. However, this small Middle Eastern country has many guns in circulation because of its geopolitical location.
Before a citizen is granted a gun-carrying permit, the state asks that they check a slew of conditions “yes”: minimum age, testing to demonstrate good physical and mental health, no criminal record, and possession of only one gun at any one time. The sale of each bale is also carefully recorded.
Since 2006, Israel has also banned soldiers from taking their service weapons home with them on long-term leave. Two military studies conclude that this measure alone has reduced the suicide rate in the army to 40 to 57% per year.
” There’s a whole protocol for keeping guns. […] [Les militaires] must lay down their arms. They are accessible in case of an attack. But when I’m depressed, someone will ask me, why do you want yours? pistol? »
The expert also points out that media coverage of recent mass killings and the worrying ease of obtaining guns in the United States sometimes makes one forget that certain metropolitan areas like New York, Washington and Philadelphia are much safer than they were in the 1990s. That wasn’t uncommon back then
stray bullets Kill innocent young victims in Harlem or the Bronx.
” Despite what they say, we live in a society that’s safer than it was in the ’90s, whether you’re in Montreal, Toronto, Philadelphia, or New York that’s perspective. »
Prevention, the key
Although it’s easy to get a firearm on the black market, the Big Apple has managed to reduce homicides by about four times in 25 years by focusing more on prevention, especially with more than just social workers.
Events or programs are also organized, such as soup kitchens, in which police officers take part, to create links between the authorities and the communities, explains Francis Langlois.
: \”OK, c’est ici que les gens se rencontrent pour se tirer dessus? Eh bien, on va mettre des lumières ou on va créer un parc. Et on va organiser des conférences de presse quand il y a une fusillade avec [des victimes], des pasteurs locaux, des policiers… On va montrer qu’on ne se laissera pas intimider\””,”text”:”[Les décideurs] se sont dits: \”OK, c’est ici que les gens se rencontrent pour se tirer dessus? Eh bien, on va mettre des lumières ou on va créer un parc. Et on va organiser des conférences de presse quand il y a une fusillade avec [des victimes], des pasteurs locaux, des policiers… On va montrer qu’on ne se laissera pas intimider\””}}”>[Les décideurs] They said, ‘Okay, do people meet here to shoot each other? Well, we put on some lights or we build a park. And we’ll have press conferences if there’s a shooting [des victimes]local pastors, police… We will show that we will not be intimidated”says the expert, who is a member of the United States Observatory of the Raoul Dandurand Chair in Strategic and Diplomatic Studies at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM).
Several studies show that violence is
viralexplains Mr. Langlois, which means that murder often leads to revenge and so on.
” The fact that the criminals negotiate with each other is bad for them Offers, that’s one thing, but avoid shooting it. And when you shoot, shoot at each other, but try not to hit stray bullets. There are many programs to meet these people. »
Mr. Langlois believes that the efforts in the American metropolises have triggered a domino effect with positive consequences. Recent studies show in particular that the school performance of children in disadvantaged neighborhoods of New York that were formerly plagued by violence has increased in recent years.
However, a higher education rate also contributes to reducing crime. There are now other options for these better educated young people than to follow in the footsteps of
evil peoplepoints out Mr Langlois.
” Though they’d never seen guns, teens in the ’90s were busy surviving on the streets. Their parents kept them at home for fear of a stray bullet. »
We need to distract people who turn to crime; it nips the problem in the bud. Gun violence is very viral. It brings revenge. We must therefore undo the conditions that produce this violence.says the specialist.
And the Centaur strategy?
Francis Langlois also sees Centaure with a good eye, these since the 1stah October 2021 to effectively combat gun violence in Quebec. Provided, however, that the repression of crime is also accompanied by effective prevention among young people in vulnerable situations.
We are not the easy victims or witnesses of a phenomenon that is developing and against which nothing can be done. on the other hand, emphasizes the specialist. Centaure results will be measurable at
medium termpredicts Francis Langlois:
Ideally, the federal government and neighboring governments in other federal states should also be on board.
Some dates since Centaure was deployed
- Over $200 million has been invested in the project
- 394 weapons seized, mostly handguns
- 426 arrests
- 97 ongoing investigations
- Guns on the black market in Quebec sell for between $3,000 and $8,000 each. They are bought primarily in the United States, priced between $300 and $500.
In collaboration with Tommy St-Yves