Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?

“A lot of the people who keep a gun at home for safety are the same ones who refuse to wear a seat belt” (George Carlin)



One of my biggest fears - besides the universe, flying, insects, diseases, natural disasters, car accidents, drownings, kidnappings, aliens, food poisoning, war, famine, and long weekends when stores are closed - is guns.

Guns scare me. I used to have dreams about guns and being shot. I don't really know where this fear came from. I live in a safe city, and in a safey country that has pretty decent gun regulations.

When I was living in D.C., I did a 10 minute documentary for my broadcast journalism assignment back home. I thought it would be a great topic, and since I was living in what was the 'crime capital of the USA' I thought it would be fitting.

(As a side note, I have to say I never saw any violence while living in D.C. Bethesda, actually. The subways were safe, and I knew where to stay to not get in trouble. Georgetown. And at Montgomery Mall. Joking. Getting lost in the car with my mom in a really shady neighbourhood on another trip to D.C. is, well, a whole other post!)

In order to get 'good' footage for my story, I went to a shooting range in Maryland with my friend. It was the first time I ever held a gun. The man explained what I was suppose to do and I faced my target man, and began shooting. On my very first shot, I hit my 'man' in the chest.

I was so excited! I turned around and faced my instructor, while pointing my loaded gun at him.

"Did you see that? How good am I?" I said to him, waving my gun up and down.

His face went white, and he said to me: "Please never point that loaded gun at me again."

Oops... my bad. It was just an innocent mistake. But an innocent mistake like this is what kills people every single day in the United States, Canada, and many other countries. Guns are bad. Period. In my perfect world? There would be no guns.(And no crime, and no bad people, la-di-da.)

It was a crazy experience, and it did give me some great video for my story. But I was pretty sure I'd never want to hold a gun again.

Next stop? The scariest place I've ever been - a gun show. It was in a huge warehouse, and there were tables upon tables of guns, bullets, books on making bombs, and other paraphernalia. There were hundreds of people there, all excited, holding guns, buying bullets and books, laughing, having a good time. I saw some really scary looking people that day and I wondered what all this was for? Hunting? Really? A hobby? Bizarre. And no offense, but really, guns serve only one purpose - to kill.

My brother-in-law is a police officer. I worry about the fact that he sometimes brings his gun home - even though it goes in a safe, with the bullets removed. I tell my sister all the time that when she has kids, she has to be extra careful. I've read so many horror stories about a child accidentally getting their hands on a gun in their home. We don't need this type of tragedy - this can be prevented.

I interviewed a man who worked for The Brady Centre to Prevent Gun Violence in D.C. and was told about how bad the situation with guns really is. Although this interview took place several years ago, the numbers have not changed dramatically enough to say there isn't a huge gun problem today. For whatever reason - our laws, our population - Canada doesn't have as high a gun problem. (I'm no subject matter expert, but I'm pretty sure that's the truth.)

Each day in America approximately 85 people die from guns.

816 people were killed in 2002 by a gun in Canada.

(You'll notice this number is higher than the poster shows above - remember the poster is talking about murders only.)

I'm not good at math, but I think there is a vast difference here! Yes, we have a MUCH smaller population, but there are bad people everywhere. What I think we have here are better fireams laws.

What is that saying? "Guns don't kill people, people kill people." I have to disagree - the person holding the GUN is doing the killing. No gun - no dead person.

Remember the Beltway sniper attacks in 2002 that took place in D.C.? How insane was that? 11 people were killed. Innocent people, going about their day, being shot down for no reason at all. Brutal. That story totally haunted me. Imagine the fear people had to even go to the corner store?

Is there a safe way for people to own firearms? Probably. And of course there are many responsible people who own guns. Only, all too often, these guns fall into the the wrong hands and that's where the problem lies.

Bowling for Columbine, although controversial and heavily edited, was kind of an eye opener for me. It was scary. Columbine isn't the only school that has been so tragically affected by gun violence, and this is a problem that needs to be fixed. No one should have to be scared to send their child to school.

Every three days in the USA, an entire classroom of children are killed as a result of gun violence. I'm hoping these statistics, if true, will be drastically reduced with time. Since I'm not technically an American (even though I should be an honourary citizen because I love America almost as much as Canada) I still wanted to voice my opinion on this topic because it worries me. It worried me before I became a mom, and it worries me even more now.

The gun violence in Toronto worries me, too. There was a shooting in the Eaton Centre a few years ago, on Boxing Day. A mom and daughter were out shopping, and the girl was shot dead. It was a gang related shooting, in which an innocent person was caught in the middle. This is the type of story I can't stand reading about. This is what makes me angry, and makes me wish that guns didn't exist.

How do you feel about this issue? What can be done to make the situation better and our streets safer? Or is this problem too big to ever really change?

13 comments:

Smart A$$ Mom said...

In Texas, everyone owns a gun. Though it is legal to carry as long as you have a license. I, however, am petrified of firearms. My family have funny views on states that prevent carrying options, like NJ where I live now. And of course my Dad's famous liner:

"Those designer jeans could have bought you several rounds of ammunition! When the Revolution comes, I'll be reloading while you hide behind your fancy pants!"

He is tongue and cheek...we hope....

Christy said...

I don't think the situation in my country (US) will ever change because the lobbyists hold too much sway over congress. Gun sales make too much money. Just like tobacco. It should be illegal, but it never will be. I like how they do it in my husband's homeland - Great Britain - you are allowed to own a gun, but it must be kept a gun club, where you can shoot it at a target range.

Courtney Kirkland said...

Guns down kill people...people kill people. Firearms in the wrong hands are what cause gun related deaths. Firearms in the hands of people who haven't been taught HOW to use a gun, result in accidental gun death. We own a gun, always have owned a gun, always will own [and carry] a gun. As an America citizen it a divine, human right to protect yourself and your family. A better grip on ILLEGAL guns sales would take care of a lot of the problem. Not take guns away from the people that use them for protection. Then what are they supposed to do if they are in the situation where they need one? Duck & Run? Doubtful. Great post!

Mommy Lisa said...

I do not like guns either - I think it is scary with kids around becuase they think it is a toy when they are too little to understand.

We have one, more than one, because my husband has always had them around...but I still do not like it much.

Lady Mama said...

It frightens me too. Calgary doesn't have a large amount of gun crime, mostly it's gang-related, but as you say, people still get caught in cross fire. And then, innocent people, dead.

I hate, hate guns. I watched Bowling for Columbine and the one thing I remember clearly from the film was that, where there are guns, there are gun killings. And the more guns, the more deaths. Simple fact.

The incident of gun-related killings is so much higher in the States than the UK it's insane. (I realize there are a lot less people in the UK, but still, relatively)

I agree with Christy, the UK rule concerning gun ownership seems to make a lot more sense.

Melissa said...

Um, so, when I read the title I thought it said, "Is that GUM in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?" Think I seriously need a break from mommyhood.

Crystall said...

I agree with you that something needs to be done to make this issue better; however, I am not quite sure how to do it. It's the people who are the "wrong" people that ruin the situation for the other responsible people. And, creating tougher gun laws sometimes limits the freedoms of those safe law-abiding citizens. If there were NO guns at all, I guess the "bad guys" who find some other way to kill one another and innocent bystanders.
We have a gun--my husband's idea. It is hidden, unloaded and locked. He is well trained and wants me to start learning to shoot. Hmmm. Not sure about that yet. He worries about my safety. But, isn't it true that sometimes the danger you put yourself into attempting to protect yourself is too much?

Scary Mommy said...

I hate guns. I don't think there is any reason for anyone outside of law enforcement to ever own one. Period. I don't think it will ever change though, but they terrify me.

LZ @ My Messy Paradise said...

I'm not a fan of guns, but having grown up as a police officer's daughter, I've been around them all my life. I know how to shoot, too (kind of fun, I must admit) but I would never own one, and would not be comfortable with my kids in a house where the owners kept a gun.
My dad has always said "If you outlaw guns, only the outlaws will have them" and I believe this, to an extent. Therefore, much stiffer penalties for firearm offenses are called for...
I think there should be much tougher licensing laws than we have now. An everyday citizen has little reason to own a gun, and should have to jump through hoops to get one.

HaB said...

I grew up with guns in the house and my daughter is growing up with guns in our house. My daughter sits and watches my husband clean his hunting rifle, his shot gun and his muzzle loader. He is teaching her about the responsibilities that come with owning a gun. I have no interest in hunting, but I do know how to load and shoot all the guns that are in our house. And, when the time comes, our daughter will also be taught how to load & shoot as well as educated on the choices, consequences and responsibility that come with living in a house that has guns.

As someone else stated "Guns don't kill people - People Kill People". And, I agree with that.

Maria @BOREDmommy said...

I hate guns and I agree with ScaryMOmmy - I'm terrified them and really want nothing to do with them. I would never own one, and certainly never have one in my house.

2 Little Irish Boys said...

Nice post!
I am not a fan of guns at all, but I will say that here in the US we have a "right to bear arms". I don't think that should be taken away. I just think we (US) needs to get a better handle on who we let have guns. My husband just got his permit and he said he had to show birth certificate, DL and something else. Yeah, like everyone who goes for a permit has all that--hmmm.

Jessica said...

I'm with you on this 100%. My FIL LOVES guns. I can't quite figure it out. Thankfully, Anthony's ambivalent about them so we go with my feelings: NO GUNS.

And I did the EXACT same thing with a gun the first time I held one (although, mine wasn't loaded). Everyone still "yelled" at me for pointing it at them. I got so pissed I yelled back, "Look! You can't hand me a gun and not tell me the rules and then yell at me for breaking them!" That was one of the first times I'd ever met my FIL (then, just my boyfriend's dad who'd BROUGHT HIS GUNS WITH HIM FROM KANSAS. JUST BECAUSE HE LOVES THEM SO MUCH).

Also? The first time I ever went to Kansas City to visit them there was a little piece of paper on the fridge with the letters "R," "S," "M," and "O" on it and hash marks underneath. I couldn't figure it all out, but Anthony got it right away: his dad keeps a death count of the creatures he kills off his back porch (Racooh, Squirrel, Mole, Opossum). AND just this last time I was there I witnessed him trapping and shooting a poor raccoon. Then I had to deal with seeing the dead body on top of a leaf pile he uses to "cremate" all the bodies.

Can you believe this!

Ok, my comment is as long as your post... suffice it to say, GUNS ARE HORRIBLE and I have to really wonder at the person who gets off on owning and using one.

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