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3.16.2013

Fear and Loathing Across our Nation

I'm amazed at the gun violence debate in this country these days. Since the Newtown massacre, more people have been voicing their opinions and resolve to do something about this, which has made the gunz'n'ammo crowd cry all the louder about how we'll all be helpless and defenseless in the face of all the marauders out there if we don't have heavy firepower in our homes.

I've tried to counter this argument with the simple question "why do you need a semi- automatic military style, high round magazine weapon in your home?" to which there is no real answer except "why not?".

I grew up in Canada watching American television. There was a a common assumtion and palpable fear among Canadians that America was a dangerous and violent place. Even though my mother was American by birth, I worried every time I came across the border that I would be robbed or attacked or be witness to some form of violence. As recently as 10 years ago, my Canadian nephew expressed similar trepidation before he came here for a vacation. It is a common conception about life in The States (as we call it there). I moved here 30 some years ago and have long since dropped my fears of the common Perpetratori Violencia Americanus.

However, what I have come to realize is that there are a lot of Americans that are more afraid of this country than even the Canadians are. He is the rabid gun owner. The myth stokin', gun totin', NRA votin' "we gotta have all the guns we can get our hands on or we're doomed" extremist. These people are truly scared of strangers, their neighbors and local & national government. They expound that arming their homes with more firepower than a terrorist cell makes them safe and sound. How wrong can you possibly be? I'm not talking about folks that have rifles to hunt with or a pistol locked away. I mean the segment of Americans that have whole arsenals like the killer's mom in Newtown.

What are we afraid of? Each other? Is that any life to live? "Love thy neighbor, but better keep the safety off just in case."? How do we possibly walk back from that if we don't do something aggressive about limiting access to so many guns. The Newtown massacre showed us in plain language where this unfettered gun access is headed. Are we really so frightened by the overarmed extremists that we'd rather cower and point our weapons at our locked front door, or should we take the country back from them and say enough is enough?

How many more children will die before we wake up?