Thursday, September 14, 2006

Montréal shooting -- update

A brief follow-up on my last post. It now appears that one person was killed in the rampage before the gunman was shot by police. Inevitably comparisons to the 1989 Montréal Massacre are being evoked. But across the networks, both English and French, I noticed a common theme and that was Columbine was a major turning point in dealing with hostage situations like this. Now, police don't wait for reinforcements (i.e. a SWAT team) or for things to "calm down." They move in and try to neutralize the situation right away. That's what the Montréal Police and the Sûreté du Québec did yesterday, and they are to be commended for it.

There's been a lot of questions, naturally, about whether the gun registry should be kept or abolished in light of Wednesday's events. I think it should be fixed and fixed properly to get rid of the red tape, but to be honest it would not have prevented what happened. Montréal is very close to the US border and it's pretty easy to smuggle in prohibited weapons if you stay calm enough and not give away a facial profile that suggests stress. Besides, no one is going to register a prohibited weapon.

But it goes without saying that the gun registry emerged in part because of the events of 1989 and it remains very popular in the province. Something Harper needs to think about as the fall sitting of Parliament begins next week. He can't rule Canada by ignoring Québec and its very, very angry citizens.

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