Left: Tucker Carlson (Photo by Janos Kummer / Getty Images) Right: Laura Ingraham (Photo by Alex Wong / Getty Images)
Perhaps in an attempt to avoid discussing topics like gun control and racist conspiracies adopted by mass shooters, some of Fox News’ biggest stars have shifted their attention to seemingly bigger threats to American democracy: Canada and weed.On Wednesday, Tucker Carlson spent a good six minutes misrepresenting new firearm and drug policies in Canada. “On Monday, Trudeau announced that because a deranged teenager in the U.S. had committed an act of violence, Canadians would no longer be allowed to defend themselves,” Carlson said. “That's the word from the Botoxed dictator to the north.”
Carlson is referring to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s proposed handgun freeze, which would make buying, selling, importing, or transferring handguns illegal in the country.Handguns in Canada are already tightly regulated—you need a document called an Authorization to Transport just to be allowed to move your handgun from one approved location to another—like from your house to a shooting range. There is no right to bear arms, and the laws around self-defense are complex. You can’t just shoot someone who shows up on your property, for example. You’d need to prove that the force you applied is defensive, not retaliatory, and reasonable in the circumstances.Carlson also ranted inaccurately about Canada’s decision to allow British Columbia to decriminalize small amounts of drugs, like illicit fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, and meth, for personal possession. “What is killing a lot of Canadians are drug ODs,” Carlson said, which is true—nearly 27,000 Canadians died of opioid overdoses between January 2016 and September 2021. “So how is Justin Trudeau responding to this? Well, days ago, he announced that he is legalizing fentanyl along with cocaine and methamphetamine in Canada's third-largest providence [sic], British Columbia,” he added. “Why, if you were concerned about public health, would you ban firearms but legalize fentanyl? Fentanyl is what people are dying from, not guns. How does that make sense? It only makes sense if your goal is to keep the population weak and vulnerable, even if it kills them.”
First off, pharmaceutical fentanyl is legal both in Canada and in the U.S.—it’s used in hospitals every day. But B.C.’s move to decriminalize small amounts of drugs didn’t legalize anything. It simply means people who have 2.5 grams or less of the drugs covered under the law won’t be arrested.Many harm-reduction advocates and addiction experts argue that Canada should have a fully regulated supply of all drugs so that people would have an alternative to the toxic street supply driving overdose deaths.Carlson’s colleague Laura Ingraham, on the other hand, wants to know why more people aren’t talking about weed in relation to the mass shooting at the elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, that left 19 children and two adults dead and injured another 17 people. Citing vague news reports that claimed the Uvalde shooter smoked weed, Ingraham suggested the fact that Americans aren’t hearing more about the link between cannabis and mass shootings is a “pro-marijuana” conspiracy. “The American people are hearing a lot about AR-15s and background checks, but they also deserve to hear about this,” she said.She also said there’s a “reported link” between weed and several mass shooters based on a single study. Other evidence she cited included the fact that a friend of the Dayton, Ohio shooter—who killed nine people in August, 2019—said they smoked weed together.
Weed is the most common illicit recreational drug used by people, so saying that a bunch of violent people smoked weed is kind of like saying they all drank alcohol or coffee. Also Canada has fully legalized weed. And mass shootings, while they do happen, are extremely rare there—many Canadians would probably be able to list them off by heart. The country’s gun homicide rate is 0.5 per 100,000 compared to the U.S. rate of 4.12, according to Reuters. After Canada’s worst mass shooting ever, in 2020, Trudeau’s government moved to ban about 1,500 types of firearms. David Hammond, a professor and university research chair at the University of Waterloo’s School of Public Health Sciences, said it’s not likely that violence is “a causal effect from cannabis use.”“People that experience mental health issues are likely to be at greater risk of substance use and violent situations, just as they are more likely to experience homelessness. That does not mean that cannabis is responsible for causing the violent behavior any more than it is responsible for causing homelessness,” he said. In fact, there’s a much stronger link between alcohol and violence, according to Hammond.“There is absolutely no scientific evidence supporting this asinine remark,” said Carl Hart, professor of neuroscience and psychology at Columbia University, in reference to Ingraham’s comments. “But one doesn’t need to be a scientist to see that my Rasta brothas and sistas are some of the most peaceful people on the planet. Observe, learn, and love.”Follow Manisha Krishnan on Twitter.