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Local residents comfort each other near a makeshift memorial to the victims of the Sandy Hook School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut Sunday, December 16, 2012. (Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail)
Local residents comfort each other near a makeshift memorial to the victims of the Sandy Hook School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut Sunday, December 16, 2012. (Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail)

Expats debate: Something is wrong in American society and gun control alone won’t fix it Add to ...

Leah Taylor, adjunct professor in Augusta, Ga., originally from Woodville, Ont.:

In Augusta, Georgia, the most common response on how to stop these events from happening again is that we need to give the school principals and teachers guns to protect themselves and our children. I have attached a few memes that are going around down here to exemplify the point – here is one and here is another.

Any commentary about reforming gun laws is met with “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” There isn’t really much discussion here about mental health care as a way of preventing these catastrophes. The general consensus just seems to be that some people are crazy and we need to be armed so that we can protect our children from them. This hugely contrasts with what my Canadian friends are talking about, who don’t seem to understand the deep attachment to the Second Amendment [of the U.S. Constitution] here and are more concerned with addressing mental health care access as a means to preventing these atrocities. There are of course some Georgians I know who take this standpoint as well, but they are in very small numbers comparatively.

Given this fact, I do not see gun law reform being embraced or promoted here in the South. South Carolina (Augusta is right on the border between Georgia and South Carolina) just passed a law making it legal to carry a concealed weapon without a permit. This climate does not bode well for any reform efforts.

Michelle Curry, stay-at-home mother in Baltimore, Md., originally from Winnipeg:

I have two young children, one of whom will be in preschool next year. When the tragedy in Connecticut happened Friday morning, I was actually touring a Baltimore school at which we were thinking of enrolling my son. As I walked home on a lovely day, I thought about how much I loved the school and all my hopes and dreams for him there. I pictured my sweet little boy with his reddish blond hair and big eyes asking questions and doing art, learning to read, and making friends. It was a wonderful walk home until I looked at my phone and started reading reports of what happened in Newtown, Connecticut.

As I toured the school, I remember I felt a chill when the safety procedures were explained and I was told they have emergency procedures in place for a “variety” of situations, and I quickly moved on and said to myself, “Oh, like fire drills.” Now I realize what she was really talking about: that my kids and I have to be prepared for the fact that someone who has a problem with something, or someone, could come into their school and shoot everyone because they have an automatic weapon, or even a semi-automatic weapon. And when I say prepared, it’s because these events are no longer some one-time tragic incident.

Instead of becoming less frequent, they are becoming more frequent, and no one knows why. The perpetrators are usually dead before the police even arrive so we are left to piece together fragments of what can only be tortured minds.

Timothy C. Winegard, a professor in Grand Junction, Colo., originally from Sarnia, Ont.:

This Fourth of July, I took my three-year-old son to the local parade in Grand Junction, Colorado, where I now live. My wife tittered at the expression on my face as I watched the third parade progression (one of the largest) drive and march down Main Street. Representatives of the 2 nd Amendment Club of Western Colorado brandished sophisticated weapons, including AR-15s (the “civilian” equivalent of the military M-16 or C-7 in Canada), AK-47s and other assault rifles.

As someone who supports gun control, I was speechless and wanted to cover my child’s eyes.

In 2010, there were 12,000 murders in the U.S., with roughly 9,000 inflicted by a firearm. This does not include 20,000 suicides and accidental shootings, or some 200,000 non-fatal gun related injuries. Of the 36 wealthiest nations, the United States came first with an annual 14.2 gun-related deaths per 100,000 people.

While these tragedies are horrible and reprehensible, perhaps the only positive is that it may wake Americans up to the reality of senseless gun violence and force the government to initiate firmer gun control laws. The current laws and circumstances are utterly absurd.

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