Friday, December 21, 2012

“People get shot by people, people with . . .”

“Anti-firearm” is a term being thrown around a lot recently due to the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary last week.

Brian was calling attention to the issue of gun control way back in the early ’80s, when he penned Put Out the Fire in 1982. Was he trying to make a point about gun access in response to the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan a year earlier? The timing would be about right but perhaps there was another shooting incident in the UK that sparked Brian’s outrage. Wait a minute, it was probably Lennon’s murder that prompted Brian’s song, just like Freddie’s homage to Lennon with Life is Real.

As for the United States, I’m surprised that with their undying allegiance to the 2nd Amendment, the National Rifle Association hasn’t lobbied to get this anti-gun statue removed from the steps of the United Nations.

Photo by Patrick Brooks 
The shooting tragedy in Newtown, CT has again triggered the debate about gun control in the United States. Are the innocent lives of 20 children lost to a deranged gunman a stronger argument for restricting gun access than, say, those adults killed in Aurora, Virginia Tech, or Columbine?

If the shooter’s mother hadn’t had a stockpile of the damned things around the house, would her son have had the same opportunity to mow down as many lives as he did? The NRA’s initial response was simple and unapologetic: if the teachers at Sandy Hook were adequately armed, they could have reacted to the threat with equal force. In a twisted way, that logic does makes some sense . . . a gun is called the “great equalizer” for a reason, is it not?

And when a culture of fear converges with the Second Amendment and an obscure Stand Your Ground law, you get a dead teenager. Does the NRA blame Trayvon Martin for not carrying a gun and denying himself his [God-given] right to defend himself against trigger-happy neighborhood watch volunteers? Based on their statements concerning the Sandy Hook tragedy, it would appear so. What is this, the wild west? The minute you leave your house it becomes High Noon so you’d better bring your firearm?
This stats meme on handgun deaths has been making the rounds since the Sandy Hook shooting. As a matter of fact, to keep making the point, a current set of statistics like this are circulated whenever any mass shooting occurs in the United States. Unlike Congress-backed changes to implement more rigorous airport screenings due to one attempted shoe bombing, there is virtually no change to the laws for preventing similar catastrophes when it comes to guns and gun violence. Unbelievable.
Speaking of the wild west, here in Calgary we have something that comes close to it every July when the city puts on the Calgary Stampede. Locals and visitors alike dress as if it were the old west although but no one carries a holster and gun (fake or otherwise).

An American visitor to the Stampede last summer made the news when he and his wife were walking through Nose Hill Park (an open field green space) and were approached by two male youths who asked whether they had been to the Stampede yet. The visitor happened to be a Michigan cop and took exception to their questioning and through a letter to the editor, publicly acknowledged that he felt unsafe without his state-issued firearm to protect him for random encounters like this. (Maybe someone should remind/explain to him that police in the UK are still not armed during routine patrols and their annual handgun deaths are meagre, to say the least.)

The local media picked up on the story and it quickly became a talking point about the cultural differences between Canada and the United States, as this Calgary Herald writer explains:

And so, Americans, unaware of just how sick their handgun mentality is, continue to fight like crazy to prevent any kind of handgun-control legislation from being implemented. A 9 mm handgun, purchased legally, was the weapon of choice in Oak Creek, Wis., on Sunday when six people were killed and three more wounded by a white supremacist at a Sikh temple. One might argue that if the worshippers had carried guns, they could have killed the guy first. But sitting in a temple armed to the teeth while listening to a sermon about brotherhood and peace is ridiculous.
The same could be said about teachers at Sandy Hook if they were armed and ready for combat while reciting Dr. Seuss to First Graders.


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