Why Canada Races on Gun Policy When America Crawls

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As Congress once more struggles through acrimonious and so far fruitless negotiations over gun reforms in the wake of a mass shooting, Americans may find themselves looking north in befuddlement.

Canada’s government has begun moving to ban handgun sales and buy back military-style rifles — dramatic changes in a country with one of the world’s highest gun ownership rates outside of the United States, expected to pass easily and with little fuss.

Ask Americans why Canada’s government seems to cut through issues that mire their own in bitterness and frustration, and you might hear them cite cultural differences, gentler politics, even easygoing Canadian temperaments.

But ask a political scientist, and you’ll get a more straightforward answer.

Differences in national culture and issues, while meaningful, do not on their own explain things. After all, Canada also has two parties that mostly dominate national politics, an urban-rural divide, deepening culture wars and a rising far-right. And guns have been a contentious issue there for decades, one long contested by activist groups.

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