A few years ago, I had an extended working holiday overseas. While I traveled, I met several other Americans who told everyone they were from Canada. I remember one guy even had a Canadian flag patch sewn onto his backpack. He told me in complete secrecy (thanks to a few glasses of boxed wine) that he was really American, but was embarrassed for his country.
I didn’t hide my nationality, but had many people tell me, “Oh, don’t worry. You’re not the typical American.” What is the typical American (in the eyes of the inhabitants of other countries), you ask? Loud, rude, culturally ignorant, and gun-toting. At least, that’s what I was told any time I asked.
During the time I spent abroad, I wasn’t too embarrassed of where I came from. But, in light of recent shootings and events, I often wonder if I would feel the same way today. I’ve always been ashamed of my country’s gun control laws. Why do Americans need to have access to automatic weapons? Why are the gun security checks so lax? Why are we, as a country, so gun crazy? There were 11 million guns made in the US in 2013…310 million civilian owned firearms in the US in 2009! I’ve never understood these statistics.
Earlier this year, I had to write an article about gun control. It was a true challenge because I was asked to write it from two points of view: anti-gun control and a pro-gun control. But, as a professional, I’ve always been able to set aside my beliefs to get a job done. And that’s what I did. I started my research from a gun-lovers point of view. I searched, and I scoured, and I crawled through every inch of the internet so that I could find statistics on why guns were good.
I found one or two surprising facts, like the fact that folks in Kennesaw, Georgia were required to own guns, yet the town had a very low crime rate. But, I was stuck. I couldn’t find any arguments that really held water. I remember thinking, on more than one occasion, “That makes no sense. How could that be an argument FOR guns?”
The self-defense argument didn’t work; there were very few cases in which guns were successfully used in a self-defense situation. In mass shootings, the only successful attempts to stop a shooter (in my research, anyway) were by cops or ex-cops. Think about it. Would the typical person have the tactical knowledge and composure to stop a shooter? Even with training, it’s impossible to know how you’ll react in a real-life scenario. That is, unless you’re law enforcement with experience.
Other arguments for no or lower gun control had too many holes. Like the fact that there are only a small percentage of deaths by accidents with guns, as most accidents result in only injuries. That seems more like an argument for stronger gun control, not one against gun control. Oh, only a few people died. The rest just had injuries in what could have been avoided if they weren’t playing with guns…that makes it OK then! I was trying…but even with an open mind, I couldn’t find support for less gun control.
I tried putting myself in the shoes of someone who loves guns. I love chocolate and can’t imagine living without it (seriously…I love it that much), so I imagined a world in which a small percentage of innocent people would become fatally ill if chocolate was near them. In that world, I would gladly give away all of my chocolate to the government. If I couldn’t bear to do that, I would keep a small amount (no more than a normal person would eat) locked away in a safe. And I would gladly let the government control how much chocolate I buy.
I finished the article, and I’m sure it’s sitting on a dusty shelf of the internet with someone else’s name on it; I was a ghostwriter for so long that I don’t know where half of my stuff went. But I do know that my arguments for less gun control could be torn apart by a five year old.
I’m not saying that there should be no guns in the US. I’m saying that I’m ashamed of our gun control legislation. I’m ashamed that we have so many shootings, so many unnecessary deaths, so much hate. What will it take before we finally start doing something about it? I don’t hate my country…I hate what’s happening in it. And if I travel abroad again, I probably will have a patch of the Canadian flag on my backpack.
Author: Danielle Gallagher