When we left the US, it was partly because we felt that the country was going in a direction that we did not agree with, and that the country was continuing its slide into an uglier and more negative culture.
Little did we know that it would also continue move toward a more violent and deadly culture.
All around the world, Newspaper Editorials, some from countries that have now lost citizens to the killer of 32 students and teachers, have chastised the US for making the purchase of a gun about as easy as a gallon of milk. The State of Virginia in particular has some of the most lax gun laws in America, with no background check at gun shows, no waiting period before getting a gun, no safety training before buying a gun and particularly horrifying: no restrictions on the sale or possession of military-style semi-automatic weapons. In Virginia, you can buy an AK47 or an Uzi with the same ease as a hunting rifle.
Apparently the Columbine High School massacre (which happened 8 years ago this coming Friday) was not enough. Italy’s leading daily newspaper, the Corriere della Sera summed it up well:
The latest attack on a U.S. campus will shake up America, maybe it will provoke more vigorous reactions than in the past, but it won’t change the culture of a country that has the notion of self-defense imprinted on its DNA and which considers the right of having guns inalienable.
I’d like to say that this would never happen in Canada, but we also had a shooting at Dawson College in Montréal last September. However, even though Kimveer Gill, another 20-something, opened fire last September, killing a young woman and wounding 19 others before he turned the gun on himself, police responded far more quickly. Maybe this was just luck; It’s hard to say.
What I do know for certain, is that I don’t know a single person here who owns a handgun. It’s simply not something that normal, law-abiding citizens consider. However, when we lived in the US, I knew several people who had them, and this was in one of the most ‘Liberal’ areas of the whole country.
Common sense has always told me that if you have guns around, the likelihood of someone using them to kill someone else is far greater than if they simply aren’t there. I don’t buy the argument that if you make guns harder to get, ‘then only criminals will have guns’. Here in Canada and throughout the rest of the civilized world, that has not been the result. While we can’t claim a perfect record here, we feel safer, that this is a more peaceful and less violent place. Maybe that’s what we have to settle for these days.