The founding fathers of America wrote a brand new Constitution and Bill of Rights for their new country. In 1867, when the country was created, it was agreed that Canada would continue to be governed by the B.N.A. It had been written around the same time as the American Constitution by the British Parliament.
The primary purpose of the B.N.A. was to guarantee the rights of French speaking Quebec (then called Lower Canada), and to ensure there would be no repeat of the unpleasant business south of the 49th parallel. It placed far more emphasis on good government and keeping the peace than individual rights and freedoms. As Canada and the United States have matured, this distinction can be seen in their different approaches to everything from health care and social programming to gun control.
Canadian governments have traditionally taken a direct approach to ensure the well being of their population at large; the common good before individual need. The American philosophy has been almost the complete opposite: nurture individual rights, sometimes at the expense of the common good, thus allowing everyone an equal opportunity to succeed.
While there is a minority within each country that express dissatisfaction with their respective approaches to governance, the majority are content. Even when governments change, the most anybody does is tinker within the established framework. Any attempt to deviate from the norm is met with fierce public opposition.
It is only since the repatriation of the constitution in the early eighties and the creation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as its companion document, that Canadians have begun to rethink their philosophy. It will be interesting to see what kind of long term effects this has on the societal values that provide the basis for policy.
Gun control has always been a â€ślaw and orderâ€ť issue in Canada. There is no emotional or historical bond between the Canadian people and weapons. They have no meaning beyond their function.
In America, guns are more than just objects. They have come to symbolize the struggle for freedom and the rights of the individual. The archetype of the lone cowboy standing up for justice against a band of outlaws is a powerful image, and one dear to the hearts of a great many Americans.