This is part of our U.S. Election 2012: Canadians in America series– expats talking about life and politics south of the border.
The Colorado shootings at a movie theatre premiere of the Dark Knight Rises killed 12 and injured 58. In the aftermath, we reached out to our Canadian expats and asked them to explain America’s attachment to guns and whether they have ever gotten used to it. Here are 5 perspectives on America’s gun culture.
Sherry Halfyard, business consultant living in Tempe, Arizona, originally from Vancouver:
Under Arizona law, it is legal for an adult to openly carry a loaded, partially or wholly visible handgun or revolver in a belt or shoulder holster or gun scabbard in public without restriction – except in public buildings, airports, and private businesses or property posted with “No Firearms Allowed” signs. An 18-year-old, although the age of majority is 21, can legally own and carry an unconcealed weapon in Arizona.
Americans (predominately self-identified Republicans) believe it is their ‘God-given right’ to possess a loaded gun for the purpose of self-defence. The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution – “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” – was crafted in 1791. I’m challenged with the relevance of this law in the 21st century.
This June, vacationing in northern Arizona, my spouse and I heard and saw a child (perhaps 12 to 14 years old) firing a rifle at the side of the road. I was shocked and, to be honest, a little afraid. I did not see an adult, although I don’t think that would have mitigated my fear.
No one in our vacationing group, approximately eight adults, showed surprise or concern when hearing this story. After which, I discovered all of the male cabin owners in the group possessed guns, and would not consider traveling without them.
Gated communities and armed residents are increasingly becoming part of the way of middle-class American living – the new American Dream? The irony is many who are against the current gun laws (generally self-described Democrats) think nothing of living in a gated and armed security guard community. Home alone on the weekend my doorbell rang; at first I ignored it – having previously been told not to answer.
After the second ring I gathered my courage and looked through the small viewing door only to discover it was a friend dropping something off. Yes, living here has changed me.
I’ve become more defensive, I don’t look closely at anyone while idling at an intersection, nor do I honk or flash my lights at a dangerous driver.
In Canada, a friendly gesture, flashing lights to warn drivers of awaiting police, more than once has saved me a speeding ticket. Not here, who knows how this action will be interpreted and whether or not that person has a gun?
Michelle Curry, stay-at-home mother in Baltimore, Maryland, originally from Winnipeg:
Something that really bothers me about this incident [Colorado mass shooting] and the others like this, is that it’s being circulated that this is a conspiracy to “take our guns” rather than opening an honest discussion about gun control and laws.
Also everyone saying: “If I would have been there with a gun or if there were more armed people in the audience, this wouldn’t have happened.”
It’s disturbing to me, and I am not even anti-gun.
My husband is from Texas and in the military, and we do not own a gun. We have talked about it, even though I have shot guns many times and have previously lived with someone who was a gun owner (in Canada).
It did not make me feel safer because the reality is that we had the ammo and guns separate in a locked cabinet, so even if someone did break in, there would have been no way we could get to it in time.
Plus, you are only safer with a gun if you are willing to actually point it at someone and shoot them. I am not willing to do that, so a gun then only presents the scenario that I would get shot with my own gun.
I think my husband may feel safer with a gun, especially in Baltimore, but I believe that is due to his military experience and the fact that he often carries a gun as part of his duties as a soldier, plus he has been deployed four times.
What others have said about Texas and Oklahoma are true. Guns are gifts. I know more than one person who got a gun instead of a more traditional birthday or anniversary present. I personally wouldn’t want a gun instead of a diamond ring, but hey, maybe that’s just me?
Robert Slaven, actuarial from Yellowknife living in Camarillo, California: