Caught in the Crosshairs: How Canada has and will be affected by Our Neighbor’s Gun Control Debate

Two months later, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut still brings with it sadness and shock waves. On an almost daily basis, citizens on both sides of the Canadian-United States border are bombarded with news stories and pundit commentary. Media coverage over Sandy Hook, just like similar tragedies preceding it, have resurrected a much maligned debate concerning gun control. Some in the U.S. argue for the complete ban of concealed hand gun permits, while others go so far as to suggest educators, principals, and other staff be armed and trained to prevent future incidences. Where does this leave Canada?

It’s safe to say Canada has been shaped in many ways by the more dominant U.S. culture. Americans outnumber us Canadians in both population size and global influence, and are still regarded by many as one of the world’s super powers. Canadians regularly consume American imports, ranging from television sitcoms to the services of large corporate chains. Whether Canadians know it or not, support of these imports is highly politicized.

A December 16 episode of the popular American cartoon Family Guy, parodying U.S. gun culture and particularly the National Rifle Association (NRA), was pulled from the air in response to the Newtown shooting just two days earlier. Fox Television, the conservative broadcaster which produces the show claimed that they wanted to avoid “[the] airing of any potentially sensitive content during this heartbreaking time.’’

Fox’s decision affected the regularly scheduled simulcast on Canadian cable channel, Global, as a result. This move can be perceived as censorship on the part of Fox whose new division has come out in support of the NRA’s stance against increased gun legislation. While Fox’s various news commenters find potential Obama legislation “unconstitutional,’’ so is the “prohibition of artistic creations’’ in both countries.

The Fox network was once, just like Canadians still are, equal opportunity offenders. What’s to stop programming on Fox and other networks from being barred? This is especially true when many television sponsors like TD Bank back the multibillion dollar U.S. gun industry.

TD Bank has provided a “$60 million revolving line of credit’’ to gun manufacturers like Smith & Wesson. Smith &Wesson produce the AR-15, an assault rifle used most recently not only just by Sandy Hook gun man, Adam Lanza, but also the Aurora movie theatre shooter, James Holmes. Despite these tragedies, TD Bank support remains strong, refusing to back Obama’s congress ban of the weapon.

Profit seems to be the main drive as Smith &Wesson’s shares are higher than ever, trading up by 150 percent. Millions of Canadians use TD services daily. In Canada, there have been no major talks yet about changing our gun laws, but how involved would TD Bank be if there were? TD Bank, after all, is one of Canada’s largest financial institutions. They have the power to massively influence government policy via stakeholders. TD Bank even has the will to completely disregard government and political pressure.

The sway corporations have over shaping U.S. government and public opinion is scary.
Organizations are supposedly in the business of helping the general consumer, either through escapist entertainment or offering pivotal services. They have the potential to do the same to Canadians. We need to stay aware.