LESLIE A. PAL
ON THE SURFACE, CANADIAN AND AMERICAN GUN CONTROL POLICIES appear to fit the usual stereotypes. The U.S. has relatively permissive laws, particularly with respect to handguns, while Canada is currently implementing one of the most comprehensive legislative regimes of universal firearms registration in the world. Rates of gun ownership and of gun-related violence in the U.S. easily eclipse Canadian rates. The U.S. is by no means uniformly marked by strong public support for loose gun laws, and public opinion in recent years has swung gradually toward a pro-control stance as their pro-control counterparts. This coincides closely with efforts since 1990 to tighten Canadian gun laws. Likewise, the anti-gun control interest groups take similar positions and articulate similar arguments with the same fervor as on both sides of the border.1 Indeed, the National Rifle Association (NRA) in the U.S. has offered tactical advice to its counterpart in Canada, the National Firearms Association.
These similarities do not mean that circumstances are identical in the two countries, but they do suggest that gun control generates roughly the same types of political forces in Canada and the U.S. A key difference in outcomes—Canadian federal governments have been markedly more successful in passing gun control legislation in the 1990s than U.S. federal governments—may result from institutional differences between the two countries and how they channel similar political forces. If gun control is viewed as an instance of loss imposition on gun enthusiasts, it may be that the U.S. congressional system permits opponents of