Another Difference For Us Now

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 Mon­tre­al 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.

3 Replies to “Another Difference For Us Now”

  1. Leav­ing aside the gun vio­lence top­ic and the cur­rent news sto­ry (which I’ve writ­ten about at home), it’s inter­est­ing to see that your lan­guage clear­ly reflects your “I’m a Cana­di­an now” identity.

    The US is “a place where you used to live”, and here in Cana­da “we don’t have a per­fect record”…

    I find iden­ti­ty issues inter­est­ing. When do you (not you, David Druck­er, but the gen­er­al “you”) start call­ing a new place “home”? If I were on a vaca­tion, got a hotel room from there went on an excur­sion with the Mrs., I can see myself refer­ring to sev­er­al “home“ ‘s:
    — Let’s go home to the hotel.
    — What day do we get home to Vancouver?
    — Let’s go home to Den­mark for a vis­it next year.

    Maybe it comes down to this: Home is a “base” that I can pic­ture myself “return­ing to from some­where else”.

    In the exam­ple above, the hotel ceas­es to be “home” the minute we check out on the last day of the vaca­tion. Van­cou­ver is home as long as that’s where we have our mail­ing address… or maybe as long as we feel we have a net­work here. If we moved to, say, Edmon­ton, Van­cou­ver would con­tin­ue to be “home” to me as long as it was more of a “base” to me than Edmonton.

    Hmm, lots more thoughts are trick­ling forth as I’m writ­ing this… For exam­ple it strikes me that instead of “net­work” above, it would be more accu­rate to use the catch-all phrase used in thou­sands of news sto­ries where some­one is described as “hav­ing (strong) ties to the com­mu­ni­ty”. Oh well, this will become yet anoth­er entry in the series of blog posts I’m plan­ning to write on the top­ic of “iden­ti­ty” (online and “in real life). 🙂

    Jan Karlsbjerg

  2. Hi Jan -
    Good obser­va­tions. I guess we start­ed call­ing this place we live home fair­ly short­ly after we moved here. It may be that we were anx­ious to set­tle in, or that we were equal­ly anx­ious to cut our ties with the US. After all, we did move part­ly (at least) for emo­tion­al and polit­i­cal reasons.

    What’s ‘Home’ any­way? Where the heart is? Where the hearth is? Where every­body knows your name? (sor­ry, spent a lot of time in Boston, although not so much in bars).

    I clear­ly remem­ber that both Pam and I referred to the hous­es we grew up in as ‘home’ (as in ‘Next week I’m going home to vis­it Mom and Dad’). My par­ents are still alive but Pam’s are gone. There­fore, I still have a sec­ond ‘home’ where she per­haps does not.

    I don’t think either of us has ever said ‘Let’s go home to the hotel’ after we’ve been out to din­ner in anoth­er city.

    It remains to be seen if we ever say ‘Let’s go home to the US for a week next sum­mer’. With­out get­ting over­ly dra­mat­ic, I’d have to say that the US feels less like home every day, not just because I’m away from it more, but because it has changed so much from the US that I grew up in. Because the coun­try real­ly has changed (pre­dom­i­nant­ly for the worse), it leads me to believe that it’s pos­si­ble not only for you to leave home, but for what­ev­er was ‘home’ to leave you.

    BTW,(and back on the gun top­ic) I learned this morn­ing that there is some con­fu­sion between the term ‘Assault Weapons’ and ‘Auto­mat­ic Weapons’, and that AK47s and Uzis may in fact still be reg­u­lat­ed based on some Fed­er­al laws. The inac­cu­ra­cy was based on infor­ma­tion from the Nation­al Post, and I should know bet­ter than refer to that awful rag at any time as a reference.

  3. Con­grat­u­la­tions on your move to Cana­da, David! I recent­ly met two luthiers from Boston who also fled the U.S. after Bush was re-elect­ed; they are now work­ing in and ren­o­vat­ing a six­teenth-cen­tu­ry farm­house in Bavaria. Inci­dents like these remind us how lucky we are to live in such a safe place (Munich is the safest city in Europe and there­fore I assume in the world).
    The Vir­ginia Tech gun­man and two of his vic­tims had attend­ed West­field High School in Fair­fax, Vir­ginia, where my broth­er teach­es sci­ence. Since last year anoth­er ex-stu­dent had killed two police offi­cers near the school, the media have swarmed around West­field try­ing to make out that it pro­duces killers. Actu­al­ly it’s the easy access to weapons that makes it more like­ly for an angry young man to become a killer.

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