Monday, December 17, 2012

I Don't Understand

Dear USA
I'm one of your neighbours in Canada. I've been sitting here with tears pouring down my face about the events in Connecticut. I don't know anyone there. I don't know anyone who knows anyone there. That doesn't matter. Children should be safe in their homes and their schools, and little kids shouldn't have to hide in a cupboard so they aren't shot in the Kindergarten class. It is not only the USA who is in shock and grieving-it is the whole world. I hope it comforts you to know that people all over the world are sending love and sympathy your way. We are united by this senseless tragedy.

 I will readily admit my bias. I don't like guns. I don't want to be around guns, I don't want to learn how to shoot a gun, I don't want to own a gun. My uncles and cousins were hunters and there were shotguns at my uncle's farm when I was a child. I've handled an unloaded gun, but only because I worked in Customs and I had to and even then, I passed the task to another officer if I was able to. I've never shot a gun and I don't want to. I don't even like BB guns or paintball guns.

I live in Canada, where you can own a handgun legally but we have permits to carry, permits to convey, permits to own, permits to store and lots of police checks and identification requirements. While the people who want to commit crimes with a handgun still manage to find them, it's more challenging. They can't just walk into Walmart and come out with an assault rifle. In fact, unless you are police or military, you aren't allowed to own automatic or semi-automatic weapons.

I'm trying to understand why your nation is gun crazy. Why would a Kindergarten teacher need 2 hand guns and an assault rifle? Why would ANYONE other than military and law enforcement need an assault rifle? I don't understand. What makes you so afraid that you need to arm yourselves with so much firepower?

I understand that your independence was purchased at a high cost of life. I understand that the fight between North and South was resolved at a high cost of life as well...but those wars were a long time ago. I know that 9-11 made you feel unsafe again, and the world cried with you then, too. But you can put down your guns now. It's okay.

How does having more guns solve anything? People who want to hurt other people will always find a way, but why make it easier? I don't understand this thinking that more guns somehow make you safer. Doesn't it make you feel less safe?  If you truly felt safe, why would you need a gun in the first place? Why don't you feel safe, USA?

How many more innocent people will have to die before you figure out that the "Right to bear arms" is highly overrated these days, even if it's a constitutional right. Look at the historical context of that amendment; you've all grown up since then. Why look how far you've come as a nation.

I don't think I'll ever understand your stance on gun ownership. I just wonder how many more innocent people have to die before you figure out why you feel so unsafe that you need to have hand guns and rifles and shotguns and assault rifles in your homes. I know you won't be able to change overnight, but maybe a good first step is to change a law to prohibit just any random person from owning an assault rifle. I hope you figure it out soon, USA. I'll pray that this horrendous event becomes the catalyst for positive change, and I'll pray that you find a way to feel safe so you can put the guns down. And I'll pray that you take comfort that strangers all over the world deeply care about what happened in Connecticut. My heartfelt, prayerful condolences on your losses.