Jooyoung Lee on What the US can learn about Gun Control from Canada

May 17, 2021 by Victoria Shi

Professor Jooyoung Lee recently published an op-ed with CNN on what the US can learn about gun control from Canada. In this article, Professor Lee argues that in the US, high-risk people are able to buy guns from a licensed dealer too easily. Background checks are not exhaustive enough and the gun control laws are too lenient. A statistic he provides to support his argument is taken from a recent FBI study which finds that: "75% of mass shooters between 2000 and 2013 either bought their guns legally or already possessed them"

Professor Lee shows that in Canada, the process of legally buying a gun is more complex and difficult. It requires various background checks, a lengthier waiting period, a safety training course, personal references, and frequent renewals. As a result of its stricter process, Canada's firearm-homicide rate is drastically lower than that of the US. Professor Lee ends the article by encouraging the US to consider taking more safeguards in order to prevent high-risk people from possessing guns.

Professor Jooyoung Lee is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto and a faculty member in the Centre for the Study of the United States. His research deals with gun violence and its impact on young Black men in different contexts. In his latest work, he examines how murder transforms families and communities, how we can use videos to enhance research on interaction, and youth experiences with guns in Toronto.

We've included an excerpt of the op-ed below. You can read the full article on CNN.

"Buying a gun from a licensed dealer in America is too easy. Prospective gun owners fill out the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' Form 4473, which asks whether they have been convicted of a felony, involuntarily hospitalized by court order, or dishonorably discharged from the military, among other questions about their personal history. Dealers then share this information with the National Instant Criminal Background Check system, and a decision is typically relayed within minutes. These checks are not exhaustive enough and the suspects in the recent shootings in Indiana, Boulder and Atlanta sailed through this system, even though they had documented personal struggles, mental health histories or family members and friends who flagged them as unwell.

As an American living and working in Canada, I've had a chance to see a better system at work. Gun control laws aren't perfect in Canada, and there are ongoing problems with gun violence north of the border, but the system up here is better at keeping guns out of the hands of people looking to use them for violence. This is evident in Canada's firearm-homicide rates, which are a fraction of what they are in the US. In 2019, Canada's firearm-homicide rate was less than a sixth of what it was in the US."