Control issues: The stark differences between U.S. and Canadian gun laws

Speaking off-script at an event in Halifax Wednesday morning, Canada's minister of public safety said he was gutted by the latest mass shooting south of the border -- the 27th in a U.S. school this year alone.

"There are no words," said Marco Mendicino, responding to news a gunman had shot and killed at least 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

"I think it's also an incredible reminder that we still have a lot of work to do ourselves here in Canada," he said.

"We're not immune from the kind of gun violence that, sadly, has afflicted many communities here, and it's not just about writing responsible and common-sense laws. It's not just about investing more in law enforcement so we can protect our borders and make sure our communities are well policed and well resourced. It's about stopping crime from occurring in the first place, isn't it?"

It's a fact Maritimers know perhaps even better than other Canadians, as a public inquiry into Nova Scotia's mass shooting continues its work in finding answers into what happened in April 2020.

Still, controversy continues to follow the Mass Casualty Commission.

Even in previous years, Maritimers witnessed shocking acts of multiple people being gunned-down in a hail of bullets, including Moncton in June 2014 and Fredericton in August 2018.

The Texas shooting -- on the heels of another in Buffalo -- has reignited a long-standing debate on gun control in the U.S. and sparked inevitable questions about whether Canadians are doing enough on this side of the border.

"It was an awful tragedy. I felt sick to my stomach," gun shop owner Ross Faulkner told CTV News Wednesday.

After nearly half-a-century in the gun business, Faulkner has seen plenty of change in firearms regulations over the years, notably in the last 20 years.

He insists Canada has some of the strictest laws anywhere, starting with registration and licensing.

"An everyday person cannot come into my establishment and buy a firearm. What's required is that you need to obtain a firearms licence," he said, adding that requires passing a three-day course and then undergoing background checks after applying for a licence.

He says authorities often turn down applicants if the checks reveal problematic behaviour, and the paperwork can be revoked just as quickly.

Although many Canadians tend to see more similarities than differences with their American neighbours, there's also some fundamentals of law that have shaped the way they think.

"There's no equivalent at all to the 'Right to Bear Arms,'" says Wayne MacKay, a constitutional expert and Dalhousie University professor emeritus of law.

"In fact, even property is not directly protected in our constitution. So, it's not part of our way of thinking about our identity, or thinking about our individuality."

And now, as Americans once again grieve and look for answers, Canadians can only offer support, while struggling to find the words.