April 19, 2007

My husband and I are gun owners. More accurately, JB is a gun owner, but one year he gave me a Ladysmith Smith & Wesson .38 Special, a revolver with gleaming grips that’s strong enough to kill a man, but sized for a woman. So I suppose I am a gun owner too.

JB was raised in a pro-gun environment. His father is a hunter, a target shooting enthusiast, and a collector of firearms; JB and his brother share many of the same interests. Target practice used to be one of JB’s favorite hobbies, especially when we lived in Las Vegas near a large range. These days he only uses guns in Oregon, when we’re visiting his family in Coos Bay and the menfolk go out to target shoot. He joins his family once a year in the fall to elk hunt, too.

Before I met JB I’d never seen a gun in real life. Now I’ve not only seen plenty of firearms, I’ve shot quite a few, from pistols to shotguns to high-powered rifles. I used to be a pretty good shot with a Mini-14, which is the sort of Big Scary Gun you see in movies depicting dramatic bank robberies.

I went shooting with JB because it was something he enjoyed and I had no particular reservations about interacting with guns (although I had a very strong emotional reaction the first time I pulled the trigger, it was overwhelming and terrifying to understand the destructive power I held in my hand). Several years ago we shot together quite a bit, and since then the opportunities to do so—and the interest, I suppose—have dwindled. I don’t think I’ve fired a gun for at least a couple of years.

Politically I am not in the same camp as JB, who believes very strongly in the right to bear arms. It’s a gray area for me. I don’t necessarily believe that gun ownership should be outlawed. I do believe it should be strongly regulated, and that, for instance, people who are forcibly admitted to mental hospitals shouldn’t be able to buy Glocks.

JB’s feeling is that if someone in one of those Virginia Tech classrooms had been armed, the shooter could have been brought down before so much damage happened. Which isn’t to say he believes students should be carrying weapons to their classes (but maybe teachers should have the option?). As he said to me, he doesn’t have all the answers to these difficult issues, he just believes Americans need to have the right to defend themselves against their fellow man. That if guns were outlawed, criminals would still get their hands on them; that citizens should not be rendered defenseless in criminal circumstances.

His opinions are more complicated than what I’m presenting here, I only mean to show his general stance.

It’s very hard to be objective about guns when they’re being used in schools to end young lives. I’ve found that since Riley was born I feel differently about guns in general; they seem uglier, their purpose a sad statement about our society. I wish, simply, that they didn’t exist.

There doesn’t seem to be a “make unhappen” weaponry vote available to me, though, and so I have to consider the realities of a world with guns. Where Riley will grow up with events like Virginia Tech that must be explained to him, a father who would like him to be exposed to firearms the same way he was—with integrity and a never-wavering focus on safety—and a mother who futilely hopes her boy spends his life oblivious to their existence.

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Amy
Amy
15 years ago

JB’s feeling is that if someone in one of those Virginia Tech classrooms had been armed, the shooter could have been brought down before so much damage happened. Which isn’t to say he believes students should be carrying weapons to their classes (but maybe teachers should have the option?).>>

With all due respect, that’s exactly what it implies. If he/they don’t mean that “if only” students had brought guns to their classes, then what? They would ask the shooter to just wait a minute so they could run to their dorms and get their guns and stop him? Either way, it’s an awful, awful proposition.

CBO
CBO
15 years ago

Well, it’s interesting to see all the different points of view on this.

For me, the issue has little or nothing to do with pro-gun/anti-gun. For me, the issue is simply one of being able to protect myself and my family. Take politics out of it. To me this is about my family. They are my life. Everything I do I do so they can be happy and grow and be fulfilled. If that means giving my daughter organic milk so she doesn’t get shot full of hormones at 18 months, then so be it. If that means driving my wife to work everyday, because she works downtown and her company’s parking garage has no security, then so be it. If that means teaching my daughter than an apple is a better snack then a Big Mac, then so be it. If that means carrying a gun, then so be it.

The bottom line is that the world today is a dangerous place, no matter how it looks on it’s facade. I live in a nice, mature neighborhood. Far from the stereotypical “local” crime-areas. Nice houses, big lawns. Our neighbors are all older than us and have been in the same homes for years. We have a firestation less than a quarter mile from our home. The local police station is just a few blocks further than that. It’s a little slice of suburban heaven.

Yet, despite that just this past Christmas, a bunch of methheads pulled into the driveway of a neighbor, kicked the door down without warning and tied up the family and robbed them. I should mention the sexual assault on the teenage daughter and the permanent disfiguring damage done to the wife. The family had an alarm and it did go off when the door was kicked in. The police? It took them 32 minutes to get there. The bad guys were long gone by then.

Do I wish to live in a world where guns don’t exist? You bet your ass. However, the fact remains that I don’t and I never will. Human nature being what it is, economic pressures being what they are, modern “the world revolves around me” society being what it is, it is inevitable that shit is going to happen.

When it does, I’d prefer to think that I’d have a small edge to fight back with. Maybe having a gun wouldn’t help me at 2am when someone kicks in my door. I don’t know, I’ve never had it happen. What I do know is that I would prefer to have the option to try to defend myself and not have to depend on others who have no vested interest in defending you other than a paycheck.

Do I have a gun? Yes. However, because I have a brain, it stays locked up in a safe bolted under the bed when I’m at home and not carrying. I have a daughter I love and wouldn’t want her to hurt herself. When I go out during the day I put it on and it stays with me. At night, if I was fortunate enough to have 5 seconds warning I could open the safe and have something to depend my family with in about 3 seconds. As others have said, the gun is a tool, albeit a deadly tool that I choose to use to protect my family. Bad guys are going to get weapons legally or illegally. It makes no difference. They will have them. To think otherwise is pedantic and juvenile. I simply choose to level the playing field with the proper equipment.

What irritates me about this whole issue is the vitriol that many of those who are anti-gun have towards those who do choose to use them. It amazes me that so many people who are anti-gun BECAUSE of fear that their child will be hurt, think nothing of taking their child everyday to McDonalds for a McFatty burger every freaking day. Or push them like maniacs into playing football until one day their childs knee gives out and are crippled the rest of their life. Or put their 6 year old into beauty contests dressed like a teenager hooker, potentially exposing them to pervs. I could go on and on.

It’s easy for someone to say they would never use a gun or don’t believe in them. 99.9% of those who say that have never been in a situation where they needed to truly defend themselves. If you took that same person and put them in a situation where they were attacked, raped and their family hurt and I can promise you they would have a sudden about-face later. What most of them consider to be principles are really only ideals that haven’t been tested under fire. If those kind of people really, truly believed that they should never defend their family or household without a weapon then they should put a sign up in door that says “UNARMED HOME.” When people who are anti-gun begin doing that, then maybe, just maybe I’ll think they truly believe in their principles.

mzmtg
mzmtg
15 years ago

Guns are used far, far more often to stop crimes than to commit crimes. Estimates range from 500,000 up to 2.5 million times per year in the US. Unfortunately, those stories don’t make good TV.

Here’s one site that attempts to catalog many of the published accounts of the GOOD things that gun ownership allows:
http://www.claytoncramer.com/gundefenseblog/blogger.html

CBO
CBO
15 years ago

Without meaning to sound over-the-top I have to reply to something Amy said above. Amy, I hope you don’t take this the wrong way. I mean well.

I’ll quote her so you don’t have to go back up:

—AMY’S COMMENT—
>JB’s feeling is that if someone in one of those Virginia Tech classrooms had >been armed, the shooter could have been brought down before so much >damage happened. Which isn’t to say he believes students should be carrying >weapons to their classes (but maybe teachers should have the option?).>>

With all due respect, that’s exactly what it implies. If he/they don’t mean that “if only” students had brought guns to their classes, then what? They would ask the shooter to just wait a minute so they could run to their dorms and get their guns and stop him? Either way, it’s an awful, awful proposition.
—-

I can’t speak for JB as I haven’t met him but I do know exactly what he means here. The bottom line is that in hindsight it’s almost impossible to play the coulda/would/shoulda game. Having said that however, the truth is if SOMEONE had been ARMED and AVAILABLE it is a high likely the shooter could have been stopped much earlier. Should it have a been a student armed? Should it have been a teacher? I think what JB was saying is that he doesn’t know which but that someone armed could have stopped it. I’ll put myself out on a limb here and say this:

There is no question in my mind that if a teacher, security guard or yes, even a student had been armed and available that day Cho could have been stopped earlier. If you play a game of football against the Chicago Bears, would you put your local high school’s band geeks on the field? (No offense meant to any band geeks.) No, you would put the meanest, toughest players you could find. Likewise, if you are going up against a gunman who is intent on killing, do you throw roses and good thoughts towards him? No, you meet him with a level playing field.

People attacking JB’s point of view will generally say “Let the guards do their job. Don’t arm teachers or students.” Nice thought, but not real practical. Va Tech’s campus is bigger than some small towns. They have a couple of hundred security officers to handle 27,000 students. They are spread a bit thin. Where were the guards? Do I think it’s smart to let students be armed in school. No, I don’t but there has to be another way to protect them for when the security and/or guards aren’t able to. Does that mean arming teachers? Maybe. Have you noticed how few school shootings happen in Israel? Why you ask? Because ever since the Intifidah attacked an grade school in 1988, ALL teachers are armed and trained in how to use their weapons. It’s really funny how in a country where both sides have dozens of killings a day, no one is stupid enough to mess with a school and longer. I wonder why? Could it be … gasp … the deterrent of armed force? Why heavens, what a thought!

mzmtg
mzmtg
15 years ago

In response to Amy’s comment about guns in class or not in class:

School shooter Luke Woodham was stopped in the middle of his killing spree in 1997 when Vice Principal Joel Myrick left the school, retrieved his own pistol from his truck parked off campus, returned to the school and confronted him.

Read the story here:
http://www.davekopel.com/2A/OthWr/principal&gun.htm

mzmtg
mzmtg
15 years ago
CBO
CBO
15 years ago

One more comment and I’ll quit, I promise.

I found one posters comment about gun ownership interesting. In a nutshell, they commented that they have no problems with gun ownership, they just wish it was harder to get a gun.

Nice thought. Really. I wish it was harder for 16 yr olds to get cars and drive too. Afterall, more people die in the US each year by far in accidents caused by reckless driving (especially among teenagers) then those who are killed by guns.

To buy a car all you need is a license and cash. The license is a joke because generally the DMV will pass out licenses to anyone who can park straight and stop completely at a stopsign. In 1 hour you can get a license and walk across the street and buy a new car that is 3500 pounds of killing machine. In my state, to be allowed to carry a weapon, you have to have 38 hours of course instruction.

I hate being political about guns, but they can outlaw guns when they outlaw cars.

Danielle
Danielle
15 years ago

I stopped reading the comments after laughing mommy because there were just so many and because I am Canadian. Our laws here do make a big difference. While people are killed here with guns – and machetes and other weapons – on a per capita basis we don’t have anywhere near the number of murders as the United States does. In our largest city of 2.5 million people about 60 people will lose their lives to gun fire in a year. I believe the statistics I’ve heard about comparable American cities is three times that. I feel empathy and compassion when I see news coverage of school shootings in the States.

But I don’t know want the difference is between Canada and the US (or most other Western nations) that things of that magnitude don’t happen here aside from your right to bear arms. (Hunting is a whole other thing that I don’t agree with, but if someone wants to own a gun to hunt that’s different). I fear this comment is not coming off the way I want, I’m not trying to say we are better here. I just can’t imagine living in a world where people are encouraged to carry guns (to school no less!) to protect themselves. Bottomline – I believe gun control does save lives and makes people safer.

Amanda
15 years ago

JB and my husband share the same views. I do to. We also have a closet full of (unloaded and well-locked up!) guns. Unfortunately, he’s been so busy that he’s now more of a collector than an avid shooter.

I am pro-2nd amendment simply because criminals don’t obey laws. We can make guns almost impossible to purchase and it won’t solve our gun violence problems; statistically (see England), it will only make them worse. It just takes guns away from law-abiding GOOD GUYS. I WANT the good guys to have guns.

The other reason is completely selfish – the police can’t protect you. They show up after the fact and file a report. When the shit gets really ugly (see Hurricane Katrina and the fact that New Orleans has strict gun control) they run away with their tails between their legs. I sleep better with a locked and loaded gun under our mattress.

Long before we pass any new gun laws, I think it’s important that we actually enforce the ones we have. Literally THOUSANDS of felons apply for gun permits every year and are turned away. Why are they not then pursued by law enforcement!?!?! This is a HUGE problem and such a big NO DUH to me. It just goes to show that most gun laws are passed to make people feel better, not to enact any real change.

Sarah
15 years ago

When was the last time someone burst into a classroom or office building and bludgeoned dozens of people to death with a baseball bat?

How many criminals are shot by a homeowner protecting their family, versus how many people are shot by criminals?

It’s true that people kill people, but I just can’t think of a good reason to make it easier for them to do it. And sometimes guns purchased for self defense become part of the problem.

Susan
Susan
15 years ago

I hate to sound repetitive, but my husband and I also have disparate views on guns.

He has a gun locker full of shotguns and rifles back at his mother’s place in our hometown. We are both from the country and his family raised him as a hunter; although, now he’s much more of a fisher and hasn’t been hunting in about six years and has no plans to go in the near-future. We live about six hours away from “home” and I’ve convinced him to keep the guns back at his mom’s place for the past few years. Right now we live in a small rental house while we pursue professional degrees and there’s just no room for a big, bulky gun locker. I’m working on getting him to sell a few and dwindle down his collection to just one or two. I know that in the next couple of years when set up shop somewhere semi-permanently he’ll want to bring all the guns to the house.

I completely trust his gun handling experience. He’s one of the most careful and thoughtful people I have ever met when it comes to safety. The problem is I don’t trust myself and I certainly don’t trust third parties who may, or may not, be invited guests in my home. I’ve gone to a shooting range with him a few times, but every time I pulled the trigger, I’d feel a rush of panicky adrenaline and horror. Handling weaponry is just not instinctive to me. To be honest, I don’t *want* to become desensitized to the power of a firearm. I’m a jumpy person and I regularly worry that someone is lurking around outside, ready to break down the door and do unspeakable damage to my family and home. Maybe I’ve seen too many A&E true crime stories or too many horror movies. The fact is, about once every couple of months I wake up to a startling sound and make my husband go check out the house and, thankfully, he usually finds that the damn cat has knocked over a picture frame or book once again. I fear that if there was a handgun next to the bed, one of us would wake up in the middle of the night hearing something and grab the gun and start shooting in the dark. Poor kitty, right?

My husband went out of town this weekend; I haven’t spent the night alone in this town since we moved here. I’ll admit, I was so on edge last night that I left at least one light on in every room and the TV going in the living room, and had the bat beside my bed while I slept. I told my husband about it today and he said he’d bring home one of his guns or we’d go next week and buy a handgun to keep in the nightstand (we have no kids). No thanks. Uh, maybe we’ll just get a metal bat to replace the wooden one?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not completely anti-gun; I think it’s unreasonable and unlikely to ban all firearms from the American society. I am, however, very strongly in favor of stricter gun control. Living in a city where there is a huge crime problem, especially due to gangs, it freaking scares the sh*t out of me to think about how easy it is for anyone to walk into Wal-mart and come out soon after with a firearm! My husband’s mom called us the morning of the VA Tech shootings and made a comment about how “we really need more people with concealed carry licenses because if one of those kids had a gun in his book bag then they could have shot him before he killed so many others.” I just can’t fully buy this argument. We *need* gun-free zones, we *need* more restrictive and intrusive background checks, we *need* longer waiting periods and mass weapons registration, we *need* to make it impossible for those with a criminal history or the mentally ill to get guns. I hate to discriminate against those who have problems or made mistakes in their past, but sometimes we have to do a balancing test with such crucial issues. Our society is in crisis. That violence is engrained in the American people (more so than other cultures) is a really strong argument.

Hopefully, within the next five years, my husband and I will be parents; if I’m this worried about guns in our society without worrying about a child, I cannot image what all the parents out there are going through. My heart goes out to them for their endless worries, just as it does for all the victims of firearm violence and their survivors.

Susan
Susan
15 years ago

Jane said: “Excuse my naive lack-of-gun-knowledge ignorance, but if your sole purpose of having a gun is for self-defense in the home then you’d really need it in your hand at all times while you’re there right? Otherwise the person breaking in waving a gun around would have an unfair advantage. The criminal with the gun is unlikely to knock on the door so as to allow you time to grab your handgun from the bedside drawer so you can be “evens”.

I wholeheartedly agree.

My husband and his brother were recently held at gunpoint in our home in an invasion-style attempted robbery in broad daylight. The men followed my brother-in-law up our driveway and pushed him right through our front door. Hearing the commotion the dogs were making brought my husband running from the back of the house where he was stunned to find two strange men our foyer and a gun to his brother’s head. The dogs did their job by barking, snarling and nipping at the men who thankfully fled the scene before anyone was hurt or anything was taken. It makes my physically sick to think of what *could* have happened had one single thing gone differently.

The incident has messed with his head a lot. He’s always been absolutely anti-gun, but now thinks he wants to have one in the house. But Jane is absolutely right…even if we *had* a gun in the house, there is no way it would have done a single bit of good. My husband certainly wouldn’t be “packing” while lazily watching television in the safety of his own home. And since the men were already armed and in absolute control, the chances of them going through our home and finding our gun, thus becoming *doubly* armed is pretty high. At the end of the day, our dogs were a far better deterrant than any gun.

I don’t know what the answer is…like everyone else, I’m angered, sickened, disgusted by the massacre at VT and similar incidents across the country. It makes my ill to think that we feel the need to arm ourselves against each other, yet the reality is we live in a society rife with violence, crime and a legal system that is so full of loopholes it shocks me anyone is ever actually sent to jail.

I’m rambling now, but just wanted to chime in on this truly complicated issue.

mzmtg
mzmtg
15 years ago

Susan said:
“My husband certainly wouldn’t be “packing” while lazily watching television in the safety of his own home.”

What happened to your husband and his brother is the reason I (and many others I know) DO carry my gun on my body at home. It goes on with the pants in the morning and stays there, just like my wallet, my watch, my pocket knife, etc…

We don’t get to decide when crime or tragedy will visit us. We can only try to be prepared with a good plan, good skills, and good gear.

Lisa S.
15 years ago

The bottom line is that in hindsight it’s almost impossible to play the coulda/would/shoulda game.

Exactly, and I wish people would stop doing it. Unless you’ve actually been in a situation where a gun-wielding maniac has burst into the room shooting, your judgment of what other people should have done is suspect at best.

I was at a party where a stranger with a grudge against the host came in, shot a few people, then fled again. People with guns often have a first-mover advantage: they have the element of surprise on their side, and they are the ones setting down the terms for confrontation. It is comforting to fantasize about regaining control of a situation by returning fire, but there is a world of difference between fantasizing and reacting after your pal goes down from the bullet he just took to the knee.

mzmtg
mzmtg
15 years ago
m
m
15 years ago

I haven’t read all the comments, so please excuse me if what I say has already been said.

I live in Canada, so the culture of guns is quite different than where you are. I did grow up in a house with guns. My parents were avid hunters and I remember having rifles just leaning up by the front door at times during hunting season. Rifles never scared me because I had seen them in use and knew their purpose. That said, when I was quite young I remember snooping in my parents’ room (very bad, I know) and I came across a hand pistol in my father’s bedside table. It sent chills down me and it altered the way I saw him. I was suddenly quite afraid of him and no longer trusted him. For me, having watched so much tv, hand guns were for shooting people and therefore evil, in my young mind.

I have never shot a gun and never plan to.

What I don’t understand about the “right to bear arms” is the argument that a person needs to be protected against fellow citizens. Doesn’t that breed a culture of fear? Of distrust? That’s not the environment in which I would want to live and raise my family.

CBO
CBO
15 years ago

>Exactly, and I wish people would stop doing it. Unless you’ve actually been in a >situation where a gun-wielding maniac has burst into the room shooting, your >judgment of what other people should have done is suspect at best.

Actually, I have been in situations where a “gun-wielding maniac” has been loose. Many of them in fact. I travel quite often to Pakistan, Afghanistan and the surrounding countries for work and often guns come into the equation. In the areas we go for my job, the police won’t even let us on the pass roads unless we are armed. We’ve been shot at. I’ve woken up to gunfire outside my window. I’ve been in villages passing out medicine and supplies when fundamentalists would start cracking off AK’s at us because their afraid we’ll gain the villagers trust and they’ll lose control of them. I’ve had my office and apt overseas bombed. Why? Because the bad guys have guns. IN many of those countries they have stricter gun laws then we do in the states. In Pakistan, in order to get a gun, legally, you must visit the SP, DP and then city council. (SP=Chief of Local Police, DP=Chief of State Police.) Then you still have to prove your need. Only 1 out of 10 are approved. The cost is around 500USD for everything. That’s before you even buy a gun.

Contrast that with my current state of Oklahoma. All you need is a license, proof that you are old enough and some money. Yet the death by gun rate is still vastly higher by proportion in Pakistan than here. Hmmmmm….

Do you honestly think that the bandits who hide out to attack us, the ones who hate us doing our humanitarian work, the ones the police MAKE us arms ourselves against, have gone and applied for their weapons thru the proper, legal channels? If so, please contact me, I have a wonderful bridge in Brooklyn I think you’d just love.

The bottom line is that regardless of how much you control guns thu legal (ie rules/regulations) there are still going to be criminals who get them illegally. When is the last time you heard a gangbanger say “Yo, bought me a boomstick at Kmart, dawg. Blue light special, then went and got me and the boys some lawn furniture.”

Criminals don’t buy their weapons at Kmart. They buy their guns under the table. Guys like Cho that bought them legally in the manner they did, bought them that way because their weren’t YET criminals. You can’t stop people like that because there is usually little or no warning of what is coming. The only thing you can do is prepare/arm yourself sufficiently to defend yourself when they do snap.

mzmtg
mzmtg
15 years ago

M said:
“What I don’t understand about the “right to bear arms” is the argument that a person needs to be protected against fellow citizens. Doesn’t that breed a culture of fear? Of distrust? That’s not the environment in which I would want to live and raise my family.”

What world do you live in where people are never attacked for no reason?

You can’t wish evil men out of existance.

I don’t expect anything bad to happen to me or those I care about. But, if it does, I’m at least a little bit prepared. I carry a gun and I don’t have to live in fear. I don’t live in fear because I have a plan and the tools to carry it out if anyone ever tried to hurt me or the people I care about.

If someone tried to take your kid from you on the sidewalk, what would/could you do about it?

Crime doesn’t just happen to “other people” no matter how much we pretend otherwise.

Ben
Ben
15 years ago

I’m an advocate of gun control. I have a friend who subscribes to the philosophy “an armed society is a polite society.” It’s an understandable but impractical solution to a problem that will always exist. The bitter pill to swallow is that a free society is not always a safe society. Thank God, campus shoot outs don’t happen very frequently; once is one time too many. The rifle assault at UT, the Kent State shootings, Columbine, and the recent massacre at VPI are all reminders that we sit on the edge of a fragile precipice. We all look back and ask, what could have been done to prevent this disaster? Or, what would I have done had I been there? We want to retroactively erase it. We’re all very sad, frightened, and reluctant to admit that none of us can know what tomorrow will bring.

My name is Mr. Downer, btw. I’ll be playing all week.

victoria
victoria
15 years ago

More guns in circulation means more killing. It’s that simple. As a lawyer who studies statutes all the time, I can tell you there is no way to draft a law that could possibly effectuate JB’s apparent desire that guns would only (or even primarily) be put into the hands of rational, sane, sensible people who are guaranteed always and only to use them in a serious and thoughtful spirit, accurately, appropriately, in total sobriety, with a perfectly cool head, without any mistakes of aim or judgment, and only against other human beings in self-defense. The law just cannot do that. The law simply cannot segregate the population into two groups, those who can, and those who cannot, make mistakes, and then permit guns only to the latter group. If guns are in circulation then children, drunks, angry people, and fools will have access to them. If guns are not in circulation, they won’t. All the law can do is keep guns out of circulation.

The benefits of allowing gun ownership (“Guns are fun!”) are trivial compared to the costs to human life.

Bianca
15 years ago

You know I’m as liberal as they come. I, too, wish that guns didn’t exist but the fact is they do. I’ve only been shooting once and it was over five years ago, but the people I did target practice with were very big on safety and respect. Since then, I’ve come to the conclusion that people should be allowed to own guns. I’m all for gun-control and extremely thorough background checks (Cho should have never been allowed to own based on his mental instability) but I’m completely with those people who say if they were illegal, people would still find ways to get them and that could prove more dangerous, just like abortions.

San Francisco passed a ban on firearms (which I vehemently opposed) not too long ago and people were required to turn in their guns by a certain date. The thought of this was so scary to me because I was sure that not everyone was going to turn their guns in and obviously the people who didn’t were probably the ones who really should.

I know it’s cliche but I firmly stick by the “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” mantra. JB is proof of this. He’s someone who’s grown up with guns and owns a gun and occasionally fires guns yet I’d be willing to be that he’s probably never killed a person.

It’s not a gun problem, it’s a society problem.

CBO
CBO
15 years ago

I get what Victoria means by her black and white assessement of gun-control. She is right. More guns do mean more opportunity for people to be hurt. However, as a lawyer she is looking at it from only one side. The side of the law.

IF people who follow her idealogy were to effectively outlaw guns completely in the USA, which I’m sure is something all of us would applaud at face-value, all they would ensure is that people who follow the law will be the only ones incapable of having a gun. Sure there would be hardly any risk of someone or some child accidently being killed with a parents weapon. Or some equally tragic thing. THose risks would lessen. However, the risk that you will be attacked in your home would go up an equal amount. Why would any criminal fear attacking you or your home knowing that you will not defend yourself with equal force? The police? Laughable. My uncle is a sheriff in a decent sized town in northern Illinois. The average response time from 911 call to trooper arriving? 19 minutes.

In Chicago, the average is double that. In the town I live in right now, the average time is 17 minutes. In 17 minutes you would be dead, raped, maimed or bludgeoned. I would rather take the responsibility of owning a gun, keeping my child safe from it and being able to protect myself for those 17 minutes than trust a guy who can’t make it 4 miles down the road in 17 minutes.

Not to mention the obvious fact that there is no law that ever kept a criminal from getting a gun if he truly wanted it.

Why? Well, Victoria could explain it better than I can but the gist is that laws only apply to those who follow them. Unless we choose to live in a draconian, facist land the simply fact is that you cannot enforce anti-gun laws against criminals. Criminals, not adhering to the social contract, tend to ignore laws. Oh, heavens … really!? Smuggling, the black market, etc are all things that the “criminal” will use to fulfill his will even if guns are outlawed for the lawabiding.

So, the choice simply becomes this:
Do you truly believe the authorities can protect you in your time of need?
Do you truly believe that they will place their lives on the line to take the bullet for you?
Do you truly believe that the police will be at your door 30 seconds after the methheads kick it in?
Do you truly believe that the police will be there immediately when your next door neighbor’s pitbull grabs your child’s neck in its jaws and starts shaking them?
Do you truly believe that the police will make it to you fast enough when you are at the park and some perv tries to run and grab one of your children while you are occupied 20 feet away pushing your other child on the swing?
Do you truly believe that the police will stop your ex-husband in time when he comes, drunk or high and kicks in your door because he wants to settle the score for some ancient argument?
Do you truly believe the police will be there waiting to stop him when the mugger rips open your door at the supermarket and carjacks you, driving off with your 11 months old child still strapped in the car seat?

Do you believe those things? If you truly do, then please do not buy a gun. Trust your local police to take care of things for you. Then if one day, one of those things happens, make sure you don’t sue them. After all, you chose to put your faith in THEIR ability, regardless of what it was, to protect you. Do you trust the police to take care of you? Terrific, then raise your taxes and actually pay cops enough to attract good men and women and triple the police force. Oh, wait, you mean you’d rather pay them nothing (gotta have that new gucci) and still demand that they wait outside your home 24/7 to hold your hand? Oops, can’t have it both ways you know.

If you don’t believe, even just one of those questions. Do whatever you feel comfortable with to protect yourself. Take responsibility for yourself and your family. Don’t depend on the largess of others to take care of you.

That what is all about, gun/no gun, pro/anti, whatever. It boils down to personal responsibility.

kim
kim
15 years ago

Personal responsibility left at the same time as being politically correct arrived. (To the detriment of some of our own freedoms. Sucks.) I have to say I have the utmost respect for everyone’s opinions here. As so succinctly put by Susie, people remaining respectful has made this a delightful read.

sarah
15 years ago

Linda, you have a gift for taking extremely sensitive subjects and treating the many facets of them with respect. It’s really admirable.

No comment on guns except that they, and all they represent in our society, really leave a bad taste in my mouth.

mzmtg
mzmtg
15 years ago

Well, then get the gun out of your mouth and hit the range!

Guns are for shooting, not eating.

:)

Melanie
15 years ago

This is such a hard topic, like the death penalty, for me. It’s not one I’ve got a black or white response to, except that viscerally I can’t stand guns. They scare the crap out of me and I won’t have one in my house because my best friend killed herself with one when we were teenagers. Not that that makes all guns bad, it just makes the idea of guns plus kids too scary for me to deal with, even though it wasn’t an accident or anything. But I can definitely see the other side, where guns protect people and could feasibly save lives. I read a really good article about gun control in Playboy a while back that made me think more about this issue, but I never ended up deciding how I felt. I guess it’s an issue that, for me, is secondary to a lot of other issues so I sort of vote for those that are key and if gun control goes one way or the other with that candidate, that’s how it goes.

Alyson
Alyson
15 years ago

No handguns in our house, just rifles and shotguns (my men folk are bird hunters). Everything is locked up in a very complicated to open combination gun safe. That does not mean that all my sons (including my NINE year old) have not been though hunter safety classes – ALL of them have, and toy guns are FORBIDDEN in our house. My in-laws do not share our toy gun prohibition, but they know that at our house, all guns are treated as the real deal. The only exception is the wildly colored and ridiculously shaped water guns. Anyone who would mistake one of those for a real gun has a screw loose. I believe you can raise a child with guns in the house, but it is a conscious decision for parents to raise a child with gun safety awareness (and that awareness has to be total, and the parents have to be vigilant). You and JB have made that decision, you just have to follow through. I am also up-front with other parents about there being firearms in our house, under lock and key! After that, it is their decision.

Leslie
Leslie
15 years ago

>>>I should clarify that JB has a safe and under no circumstances is anything ever accessible to children.

Truly, it never crossed my mind that you wouldn’t have everything in some way out of reach; JB is obviously a responsible gun owner — as are *most* gun owners. I certainly didn’t mean to imply otherwise.

Lesley
Lesley
15 years ago

Don’t know if blockquotes work here but here’s a quote:

Comparisons Between Canada and the United States (2000)

Studies have also compared the rates of death from firearms in Canada with those in the United States. One of the most well-known studies was a comparison of Seattle, Washington, and Vancouver, British Columbia. More recently, the costs of firearms death and injury in the two countries were compared and estimated to be $495 (US) per resident in the United States and $195 per resident in Canada.10

Canada has always had stronger firearms regulation than the United States, particularly with respect to handguns. Handguns have required licensing and registration in Canada since the 1930s. Ownership of guns has never been regarded as a right, and several court rulings have reaffirmed the right of the government to protect citizens from guns.17,18 Handgun ownership has been restricted to police, members of gun clubs or collectors. Very few people (about 50 in the country) have been given permits to carry handguns for “self-protection.” This is only possible if an applicant can prove that his or her life is in danger and the police cannot protect the person. As a result, Canada has roughly 1 million handguns while the United States has more than 77 million. Although there are other factors affecting rates of murder, suicide and unintentional injury, a comparison of data in Canada with US data suggests that access to handguns may play a role. While the murder rate without guns in the US is slightly higher (1.7 times) than that in Canada, the murder rate with handguns is 15 times the Canadian rate (Table 1).

and, from a 2005 report by Statistics Canada

Gun deaths in Canada have declined, according to Statistics Canada, and are far fewer per capita than in the US.

In a cross-border comparison for the year 2000, Statistics Canada says the risk of firearms death was more than three times as great for American males as for Canadian males and seven times as great for American females as for Canadian females.

Because more of the U.S. deaths were homicides (as opposed to suicides or accidental deaths), the U.S. rate of gun homicide was nearly eight times Canada’s, the agency says. Homicides accounted for 38 per cent of deaths involving guns in the United States and 18 per cent in Canada.

But even as Canada’s rate of gun homicide shrank (to 0.4 per 100,000 population in 2002 from 0.8 in 1979), handguns moved into a dominant role. Handguns accounted for two-thirds of gun homicides in 2002, up from about half in the 1990s, the agency says.

Consistently through the period, about four-fifths of Canadian firearms deaths were suicides, it says.

——————

Although a few Canadians own guns (most of them law enforcement officials and rural folks, as well as collectors), Canadians are just not into guns, period. I have yet to meet a single person who owns a gun. We don’t talk about guns, we don’t want guns, even when our homes are invaded we don’t consider a gun an option. We beef up our home security and maybe, put a bat under the bed. Even most criminals up here don’t carry guns. When shootouts occur, it’s mostly the mafia or gangs killing each other. Goodfellas… We have had the occasional school shooting, unfortunately. The worst occurred in Montreal a few years ago when some nutjob decided to kill 14 female university students because he hated feminists. I’m not sure how you prevent that but the answer certainly isn’t arming everyone to the teeth.

CBO
CBO
15 years ago

I find the above post very interesting. It is true that there are fewer handguns and handgun deaths in Canada that the US. No question, but the thing the above post completely disregarded is 1) the population disparity between the two countries and the 2) the crime disparity.

Most of the handgun deaths in the US are results of crime. Crime perpertrated by career criminals, gangmembers or addicts. The guns didn’t cause the crimes to be committed… they were simply the tools the criminals chose. The US has a huge lower class population where crime is rampant. So many people grow up feeling the only way to get ahead is to deal, rob or kill in order to get what they want or feel is their right to have.

What we have is a social problem and guns have become the tool of those following that lifestyle.

Given that fact, those of us who own guns, do so simply because we believe in a level playing field and the ability to protect outselves when the police fall down on the job.

If I lived in Canada, where crime is much, much lower and the population/police ratio was higher I would probably ditch my guns. But I don’t and I won’t. The thing to remember is that guns didn’t cause the crime we have in the US. Crime rose because of social issues, drugs, disparities between classes, etc. Guns are simply how those people get their point across.

donna
donna
15 years ago
Jacqueline
15 years ago

It is scary when you boil down the arguments some of the posters have made here. (American) Society is unfair and there is much hardship amongst the population. This leads to crime. This means criminals will go out and get guns. This leads to people wanting to defend themselves against said criminals with, well, guns also. So on and so forth.

I am not trying to turn this into an Anti-American response. In fact this happens in other parts of the world also, largely amongst Third World countries. However, in the two countries I have lived: Australia for 25 years and Canada for 10, the evils that create the need for guns on both sides of the criminal equation are not as prominent. Things such as universal health care, free education and a different racial make up (although racism is alive and well here, it plays out much differently) has created a different culture. This culture means that the population here views life so much differently than others in countries where this is pervasive culture of crime and the need to take the law into your own hands.

I too want to protect my child. The likelihood of me needing to protect him against a gun toting criminal is somewhere around the need for me to protect him against being struck by lightning.

Josh
Josh
15 years ago

I believe that every person in America should own a gun, and be taught gun use and safety from a very early age. This is not a crazy or dangerous idea, and it is already in use in places like Isreal where every citizen serves manditory military service, and every single person in the whole country is trained how to use a variety of guns with accuracy and safety. They have rules like that because their section of the world is more fucked up than ours.

That’s not to say that it isn’t a good idea for our country also. Fifty years ago this sort of rampant murder was unheard of outside of organized crime. But the USA is becoming a much more violent and dangerous place to live. It is our right, and in my opinion our responsibility to own and know how to operate guns for our own protection, and that of everyone else around us. When every good citizen is armed, criminals have more to worry about than when only the police are armed. There is no longer a first response delay, but rather the victims and witnesses vecome the first responders.

I understand the emotional fear-based response that people who haven’t been exposed to fire arms usually demonstrate. They are dangerous. They are killing machines. They can and do injure and kill lots of people and children every year. But guess what, so do cars. Take the Autobahn for example. In America the government has taken the attitude that slower equates to safer, and lowered the speed limit on roads and highways across our nation. But the speed limits on the Autobahn are much higher when they even exist, and the accident rate there is much lower. The reason is that the German government enforces very strict and difficult safety training courses in order to recieve a drivers liscence. They teach people how to safely use large machines at deadly speeds, and as a result have much safer and faster raods than we do.

The automatic fear of anything dangerous is normal, but the public needs to look past the immediate danger and see the long term rewards. An educated and well armed public, familiar with gun safety and the dangers of fire arms, is much more effective at enforcing the law and keeping peace than a defenseless population protected by a mediocre police force spread thin across our cities.

christen
15 years ago

Holy comments, Batman!

I see that some posters are bringing up the idea that those with mental illness shouldn’t be allowed to have guns, and I am ALL for that. However–with the state of health care and just government in general in some states (Michigan, for one), that will never, ever happen. There aren’t enough people to staff the unemployment offices there (I know, I’ve had to go on unemployment–twice), and so many people are out of work, they have no insurance–how would that POSSIBLY happen??? I can see it happening here in Orange County. Maybe. But quite frankly, those that are mentally unstable, are depressed, etc, are more frequently those in the lower economic bracket–those getting laid off, those losing their jobs after 15 years, those that aren’t in the best situations to begin with.

My grandfather blew his head off with a hunting rifle (yes, he did) in the woods where he hunted. Suicide by non-assault-weapon. He was an alcoholic who was depressed with no job, no insurance–but he had a gun. Several, in fact.

My brother’s best friend’s dad was a COP. An officer of the law. He was required to have a gun. He became depressed after working in the jail for 15 years–never got ahead, just stuck in a miserable environment. He sought help; his doctor prescribed him antidepressants. The antidepressants gave him suicidal thoughts and he blew his face off last winter. He had three children and a wife. I have never seen a family go through more pain and anguish.

However, I personally don’t know anyone that’s used a gun to “protect their families.”

I’m just saying.

christen
15 years ago

By the way, I think it’s a sad, sad statement about our American society that mzmtg feels the need to “pack heat” while watching tv on the couch.

Lesley
Lesley
15 years ago

To respond to CBO who wrote It is true that there are fewer handguns and handgun deaths in Canada that the US. No question, but the thing the above post completely disregarded is 1) the population disparity between the two countries and the 2) the crime disparity.

Gun deaths are far fewer per capita in Canada than in the US, is the point.

For example, keeping in mind that Windsor’s population is around 200,000 and Detroit’s is 1.5 million (not counting the suburbs)….

In 1999, Detroit had 337 homicides committed with firearms vs. 1 in Windsor. According to the Windsor police dept, Windsor had 4 homicides in 1999, 7 in 2000, 3 in 2001, 5 in 2002, 7 in 2003, 4 in 2005, 5 in 2005, and 3 in 2006. Beyond 1999, there’s no indication how many of these were caused by guns.

Even if Windsor’s population equalled Detroit’s, the number of gun deaths per capita would still be disproportionately greater in Detroit.

Seattle and Vancouver – a stone’s throw from each other – have similar size populations, and gun deaths in Seattle are much greater than in Vancouver.

In a cross-border comparison for the year 2000, Statistics Canada says the risk of firearms death was more than three times as great for American males as for Canadian males and seven times as great for American females as for Canadian females.

Because more of the U.S. deaths were homicides (as opposed to suicides or accidental deaths), the U.S. rate of gun homicide was nearly eight times Canada’s, the agency says. Homicides accounted for 38 per cent of deaths involving guns in the United States and 18 per cent in Canada.

But even as Canada’s rate of gun homicide shrank (to 0.4 per 100,000 population in 2002 from 0.8 in 1979), handguns moved into a dominant role. Handguns accounted for two-thirds of gun homicides in 2002, up from about half in the 1990s, the agency says.

michael
15 years ago

The only difference between knives, guns, explosives, deadly viruses and nuclear weapons is just the scale of damage that a single malevolent individual can inflict. As several commenters already said, people who want to kill people will find a way. But should we still try to limit how much harm a single person can inflict?

The problem we have in America is not only how readily accessible efficient weapons are, but also how much our culture inculcates violence.

You may not even realize how much violence our kids (and we ourselves) are exposed to. Sometime you should watch some cartoons or read some children’s books while looking for violence (or other things that go against what you try to teach your child); you’ll be surprised at how much you find.

My 3 year-old-son, having had no exposure to guns whatsoever, watched The Incredibles (a great movie IMO, and rated G in many parts of the world) and then hours later built a gun out of Legos and pointed it around making “boom, boom” noises. (He first built a wand and pointed it around saying “Freeze!”, which we thought was funny and clever.)

Like all three-year-olds, he verbalizes his inner dialogue and so we got to listen to him trying to wrap his mind around the conflicting ideas presented: “Fighting isn’t nice.” “Mr. Incredible is nice.” “The robot’s not nice.” “Why did Mr. Incredible fight the robot?”

It seems like Americans make such a big deal about nudity and evolution and abortion and so many other hot topics, but then turn a blind eye to anger and violence.

Suggesting that we should put more weapons into more people’s hands, so that they can defend themselves against everyone else with weapons… sure, let’s give every person in the world one nuclear weapon each, and see how well that turns out.

Steve
Steve
15 years ago

You are right Christen… it is a sad statement about our American society.

As my dad said, “wish in one hand and shit in the other one then see which one fills up the fastest”. Fact is, we have to deal with cards we were given. We have to be (and are) responsible for ourselves and we can choose to do that any way we wish. And then we have to deal with the consequences of that choice. That, I think, is a positive statement about our society. And what is the tool we use to protect our society? Guns. If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, every day would be Christmas.

I could go on all night, but I will not waste anyone’s time. Every time I read an entry I thought I had the answer to, the next post seemed to be mzmtg or CBO. They said it better than I could. Just about everone here said it better than I could. It is what it is.

CBO
CBO
15 years ago

Lesley is right when she says that if Windsor’s population was the same as Detroits that there would still be more crime in Detroit. She’s absolutely right. However, she still ignores the basic fact brought up about social disparity. Why is there and would there be more crime in Detroit? Simple, social pressures make it that way. Plus, I find it interesting that so many of the same people who say “My country XXXXXX, doesn’t have gun ownership and we have less violent crime” never say they have NO violent crime. They do not say that criminals DO NOT HAVE GUNS. Why? Because even if you take away guns from good people, bad people will still have them.

Detroit (and of course the rest of the USA) isn’t in a near-socialist country like Canada, which for all it’s wonderful aspects, is very much like one in it’s approach to health-care, unemployement, etc. Nothing wrong with that, it works in some countries, and not in others. If it works, terrific. I lived in Sweden during college and it was a paradise. An expensive paradise. 60% of what the average person makes went to fund the rest of the people who did nothing. Now, 15 years later, the paradise is over. Violent crime is on an astronomical rise due according to unemployment.

Why doesn’t a socialist system work in America? No matter how admirable of intent such plans would have? Why? Because of the basic psyche of the American culture. This country was founded on an attitude much like Heinlein wrote about in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. TANSTAAFL! There Aint No Such Thing As A Free Lunch! You want to be wealthy? Work for it. You want a good job? Go to school and earn it. You want society to respect you and give you props? Then go out and win the respect of the people. You want that new Escalade? Go earn it and work for it, lazy. You want money to throw around and enjoy? Earn it and work for it.

Unfortunately, because of mistakes in our bureaucracy, in recent generations there has been countless born into a sense of entitlement. They do not understand the difference between the government helping you thru tough times and spoon feeding you. They do not believe in TANSTAAFL. Their attitude is one of “You have more than I do, I want what you have and I will take it by force.”

Do I hate that attitude? Yes. Do I hate what it turns people into? Yes. Do I wish we could live in a world where that doesn’t exist? Yes. But I love my country, better or worse, it is my country. It’s not Canada. It is not England. It is not Germany or France or Belgium. It is America. What we are now is a product not just of guns, but of 400 years of growth as a continent and 200 years as a country. Is it perfect? Hell no, but it is my country. I take it as it is.

The way it is today means that if I wish to take responsibility on a personal level for myself and my family, I must also be able and ready to defend them to the highest level. I don’t live in a country where the largest fear for my child is lightning strike. I live in a country where sadly, bad guys roam, armed and able to do to damage. Do I expect them to ever cross my door? No. But if they do, I wish to be ready.

Those who live in ivory towers of ideals crying to “disarm disarm, depend on government to save you” would also be the first ones to criticize the government if uncontrollable circumstances prevented them from protecting their towers. I choose to not trust in one person or group. As an idealist, I trust my government and believe it wants to protect me and will try to do so. As a realist, however, I know they cannot save everyone. I simply choose to fill the gap between what I wish and what is reality myself.

Those that say “I would never own a gun.” Truly, I applaud you for standing by your ideals. Bravo. However, I challenge you … if you truly believe in your pacifist, disarmed ideals for whatever good reason you hold them, place a sign on your lawn saying “UNARMED HOME.” If you truly believe in what you say, you should have no fear. However, if you choose not to out of fear, please know this … one of things that could keep the bad guys out of your home is uncertainty they have whether or not you ARE armed. I don’t advertise “ARMED” or “UNARMED” either at my home. They don’t know if they are breaking into your home or mine. You live a life of safety and security not just via the largess of the police but also on my, your fellow citizen, largess. I am armed. The fear and uncertainty that creates in the bad guys also protects you. You may not like it, but it is truth.

The same person who says “I will not own a gun” is still human. If he walked into his home and found a man raping his daughter, he would still fight to protect her. Only a moron would say “Please finish gently and leave, we only wish harmony.” No, of course not! He would grab a bat or a chair or a lamp and start swinging. If he lived in a country where criminals could not and do not own guns that it would be enough. But in every country of the world. Regardless of where you are, bad guys will have weapons. Period. That same man might be able to defend his daughter against a regular man. What if the man is 6’5″ and 290. What if it’s 3 people. That 6’5″ isn’t going to be afraid of a pasty guy in sandals swinging a Tiffany lamp. But if that same man had a gun, it would be vastly different. Why? Because it levels the playing field. There is a reason they call guns “Equalizers.” Predators inherently prey on the weak. When I lived in Africa we would go to the game parks often. It was drilled into us that lions only went for the weak, the young or the infirm. It is instinctual for predators to on easy prey. It has to do with energy expenditure versus energy gained. It’s the same with human predators. You never here of a guy robbing a gun store or a police station. Why? Well, duh, too many other people the same size. Too much risk. But oh, how easy it is to kick in the door of a person who isn’t armed and prey on them. Do I wish we lived in a world without predators? Yes, and if wished were buttercakes, beggars might bite. Until someone makes lions vegetarians, I’ll be ready to defend my family.

CBO
CBO
15 years ago

One last thought to all who post from other countries. It is interesting to me how m any people point to their country vs the USA and often remind us of “how awful” the USA is because of guns. Oddly, no one mentions countries like Israel, which nearly every person up reaching maturity has to serve a term in the military and are not only taught properly how to use weapons. A majority of households and businesses especially on the extreme border areas are armed. Yet oddly you never hear of a shooting like we just had. Any killing on a large scale are via bombings and against unarmed civilians at a market. Why? Because if anyone was idiotic enough to pull a gun, he’d be cut to ribbons. Far easier to push a button than risk pulling a gun in that country.

Or what about Switzerland. I lived there for a time after school and pretty much every home I entered was armed. Military training and service is mandatory, or was at that time at least. The people I lived with had a standard military issue Sig-Sauer automatic rifle in their home in the kitchen cupboard. It was kept unloaded but the whole family knew how to use it if need be. Yet, oddly, you don’t hear of crimes such as we have in the States.

Maybe, just maybe, an armed, TRAINED, PREPARED and WELL ADJUSTED society is a polite society.

Amazing how no one brings up countries like those as examples.

Hmmmmm…. just something to think about.

Steve
Steve
15 years ago

CBO… you did it again! Well said.

Steve
Steve
15 years ago

This is, of course, not reality nor something I think should or could be done. It’s just a hypothetical that one will either believe or not. But… if, on 9/11, everyone boarding an aircraft, yes everyone, were issued a handgun for the flight, would we still have the tower’s. Probably. It, at least, would have happened another way, like a bomb. But as I recall, that was tried and didn’t work very well.

I’m done. Thanks.

Lesley
Lesley
15 years ago

Detroit (and of course the rest of the USA) isn’t in a near-socialist country like Canada... With all due respect, CBO, Canada is far from “socialist”. We are a capitalist country that has a more Scandinavian approach to social policy. That is, we believe in universal health care (though that appears to be going down the tubes) and we believe that taking care of people during times of misfortune (unemployment, etc) is a good investment for the whole society. That said, we do have neoconservative governments that tend to favour a survivor of the fittest mentality.

I do agree with you there is a social difference between the US and Canada. Canada is more connected to the world, less insular, and a tad more humble :). Our gov’t is modeled after the British system and we are probably more connected to Europe even though our largest trading partner is the US and we share a lot of teevee and movies and the like. I have to say that the US frequently ignores the fact – or the population fails to realize – that Canada is the second largest supplier in the world of oil to the US, and that the US heavily depends on Canadian resources and trade.

CBO
CBO
15 years ago

Lesley,
I know that Canada is far from being a true “socialist” country. However, having said that, the truth is that Canada is as close to the socialist ideal as any other “socialist” country today. Perhaps it doesn’t follow the hardcore cradle-to-grave economy that others do, but in idealism it is and it attempts it the best it can in it’s practices.

As for the social differences, true … the USA is not as connected to the world, is not as open or as humble.

Well, as connected as a country that supplies 90% of the foreign aid in the world to third world countries, not as insular as a country that has the largest diplomatic service in the world and as humble as one of the top three economies in the world could be. We’re not perfect but many people view the few failings of the countries policies only instead of looking at the rest of the good we do. Even during the height of the cold-war, America was the one that fed 70% of Europe and the East Bloc nations it’s grain. During the 90’s foreign aide tripled. During the 2000’s it’s grown 35% more every year. When the tsunami hit Indonesia, the USA made up the bulk of the aide.

As for oil, while many are not aware of the fact you shared, I am. My wife is a geologist here in Oklahoma whose company has joint ventures in Canada as well as it’s own fields in the Gulf of Mexico and I am an ex-employee of the State Dept. All that aside, my views of Canada had nothing to do with a “we’re better/you’re worse” spiel than to say that we are two different countries with two essentially two different mindsets. As you said, your own country is modeled after the British system which is something interesting in and of itself considering Britain still held colonies well into the 50’s.

Despite the good and bad of both countries, even though we share a common language and common entertainment (for the most part) we are still two different sets of people. What you have in Canada would not work in the USA. Not now. Maybe in 200 years when the social strata has changed but not now.

For what we have now, guns are still needed for protection. I wish they weren’t but they are. When I use to go with my uncles to Lake Pakaskian in Canada to hunt and fish as a child on vacation, they always took rifles with them not only to hunt with but as protection against any mammals bigger than them in the woods. We did all we could to avoid trouble. Hung our larder from a tree, buried our scat and trash, etc but we still needed the rifles … just in case. Unfortunately, today in the USA certain things, mainly drugs among others, have caused a major upsurge in crime. In the same way I would carry rifle against bears in the woods, I choose to carry a gun to protect myself and family .. just in case. If I would carry a rifle as I did in the woods, something with only 3 rounds and 3 feet long I would. I can’t. I can carry a handgun easily, store it easily and use it easily. That is why I believe handguns should be allowed.

I applaud the fact that Canada doesn’t have the major crime we do and that you have no reason to need guns as we do.

Wait.

When the predators who sell the drugs in the USA need a new country to go to, rest assured they’ll go north. When the gangs birthed in the civil wars of Central America that have immigrated into the USA along with the other good immigrants find that the USA is too hot to handle, rest assured they will head north. Already, Vancouver is awash in Triads. Pakistani and Afghani opium lords are already pushing their way into Toronto. None of this has anything to do with the USA. We simply became the first targets for this new generation of crime, just as Russia was and then France and most of Europe. It has to do with poverty and lack of a proper social agenda for the most part. Remember the riots last year in Marseille and Paris? 99% of those involved were poor moslem immigrants who were angry because the insular and generally racist attitude of the french had marginalized them into ghettos and poverty.

Perhaps Canada doesn’t have those problems now as we and others do. But as your countries welfare system is overloaded as our is and the class gap widened you will face the same thing. It’s just a matter of time.

One other problem is that America (in my opinion) has made a major mistake and instead of welcoming all immigrants and doing what we can to integrate them into society with respect and brotherhood, we’ve become afraid of our jobs and supposed loss of culture. As we’ve marginalized so many, we are reaping the sad result. Canada will face the same thing. Hopefully, you’ll do a better job than we did.

Mandy
Mandy
15 years ago

I have to say, the stereotype of persons with mental illness being inherently more violent than the average person needs to be put to rest. Research has shown (I’m quoting from one study published in 1998 in the Archives of General Psychiatry) that “…patients discharged from psychiatric facilities who did not abuse alcohol and illegal drugs had a rate of violence no different than that of their neighbors in the community.” So, unless drugs or alcohol are involved, people with mental disorders do not pose any more threat to the community than anyone else. And in most states, due to the lack of inpatient mental health beds, most patients are committed for treatment as opposed to being voluntary patients, so that is not a distinction that makes much difference. I’m strongly in favor of gun control for everyone; to single out persons with a history of mental illness in a discussion of gun control is unfair, and speaks to our country’s general fear and stigmatization of something we don’t understand very well.

Sabine
15 years ago

I just started going to the gun range and practicing, and intend to get exactly what you have, a 38 special. In my case, I work as Geologist and frequently have to go to oil fields in the middle of nowhere (very close to Mexico, where people tend to be wandering around a lot), and usually late at night. Also, living alone I would prefer to have a gun. I’m not sure how I would feel about it if I had child though, that’s a different can of worms. I grew up in a house with an unlocked gun room, as most people in my area were… We never had incidences, mostly because we learned very young the damage that guns can do and we were taught to respect them. My parents both have concealment licenses. My brother is a police officer. So like JB, guns have always been a part of my world.

I tend to agree with the ranks that have said that if one or two other people had been armed at Virginia Tech, things would have gone down very differently. Like many, I feel that if guns were “taken away” from the masses, they would still end up in the hands of criminals, and the rest of us would be at their mercy. That’s just how I feel about it. Even if there were no guns, then the violent would turn to knives. There will always be violent humans, and they’ll resort to throwing rocks if they have to.

This is probabably one of the most interesting and intelligent comments section discussions I have ever read, by the way. Hats off the you for the post, and to your readers for the great input.

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[…] There is a very good discussion going on over at Sundry’s about guns. I always love Sundry’s posts, but her comments section is usually almost as thought provoking and interesting to read. Posted by sabine | […]

breckgirl
breckgirl
15 years ago

It seems that I am not harboring a secret crush on Josh only, anymore – I think I am now in love CBO as well. Well said, all of it.

jac
jac
15 years ago

God, this is scary. Really. As another one living on the other side of the world, people here have (of course) looked at the V/Tech tragedy and said, “How can we prevent this from happening here?” I can guarantee they did not conclude, “By god! If all our university students were armed, they could shoot these psychos before they can really get going! Let’s repeal our strict gun control laws, introduce stringent licenced permits for concealed weapons and let lovely stable people carry guns to stop nutbags!”

Because no matter what your, um, more vocal commenters have said, Sundry, the American system is pretty shit. However, don’t jump on me, scary people! I don’t want you to give up your guns. Do I think you should all bear arms? Absolutely, you’re too far gone for gun control. Just don’t take the rest of the world down with you. (Yes, I have read too many blog posts on this today…)

pooferrecy
14 years ago

Thank you