Responses to efforts to control who can legally own firearms suggest that, for many in America, guns are closely tied to national identity. For Canadians to understand the reaction in America to the possibility of more gun control, they should imagine the response here in Canada should factions begin suggesting increased regulation of beavers and maple syrup.
I anticipate there would be a furious response from our citizenry to beaver control. This reaction would occur, the American debate around firearms suggests, even if restrictions to Canadiana were proposed specifically because people kept taking their beavers into malls and movie theatres and using them to kill people – lots of people, since the beavers were semi-automatic, or at least tireless, as beavers famously are.
If maple syrup exploded and killed a lot of children in a school, there would be outrage, but were someone (who owned acres of sugar bush) to insist that paying people to stand around schools with large jugs of maple syrup would keep the children safe, some might agree that the only thing that can stop a bad guy with maple syrup is a good guy with maple syrup, because, mmm, maple syrup.
Imagine if a beaver bit 12 people to death this week in our capital, thumping his tail loudly all the while, as I believe he would. People might say, especially if there had been six such beaver incidents nationwide in the past nine months, “Do we really need all these beavers?” or “I know many of you are responsible beaver owners but you can’t watch over your beaver 24 hours a day. Someone might steal your beaver and not in the hopes of building a lodge, either. What then? Maybe you should keep otters. They’re cute.” This is why I have reservations about concealed beavers.
Listening to the sound of a loon coming off a still lake doesn’t increase the likelihood that anyone will kill. That’s just a stroke of luck, really. As is the fact that there’s no correlation between crokinole-board ownership and homicide. Sadly, the same cannot be said of gun ownership and homicide, but different cultures get sentimental about different things. Who are we to judge so quickly?
Canadians faced with the prospect of background checks before mixing a Caesar may not behave any better than the Americans who just this month recalled two Democratic senators in Colorado who had supported the recent failed attempt at federal legislation that would have limited magazines to 15 rounds and required background checks on private gun sales.
We’re just fortunate that our hockey sticks don’t shoot deadly cranberries. Because if they did, I imagine a lot of responsible hockey-stick owners who just love the game, and who used to play shinny with their dads until the streetlights came on, may have to consider storing their sticks at the rink in town, or switching to lacrosse.
Hockey sticks are guns only in the hands of imaginative six-year-olds, but, were this not the case and they could fire cranberries, we might have to pass a law requiring that a few questions be asked, perhaps a background check run, should a woman with a crazed look in her eye and a hockey stick under her arm, and none of the other makings for scones about her, try to buy 12 bags of frozen cranberries in June, when no one’s cooking turkey.
Emotions run very high in America when it comes to guns. They love them, and to those who mock or say, “But they are so awful,” I say: “Try explaining Rush to anyone who doesn’t live here.”
Yet another mass shooting happened in America this week, leaving 12 dead at the Washington Navy Yard, and it feels as if there is anti-momentum in the gun-control movement. There’s a feeling that, if Sandy Hook couldn’t do it, nothing will.
I’ve wondered if a counter-offensive isn’t required. Maybe leave the guns alone for a while. Distract the most diehard, identity-insecure Americans by attacking apple pie for a while. Feint toward baseball, maybe. Then regroup and try again.
I feel blessed to live in a country where most of our cultural icons are not capable of killing large numbers of people in a short space of time. It can take years to die of poutine, and the majority of poutine-related deaths are self-inflicted.
I once knew someone who died from reading Robertson Davies, but he managed to hang on until the second last chapter of The Manticore. It was the five-pin bowling that kept him strong.