It’s been ages since I’ve written a Foreigner Friday post. I have no explanation or excuse other than my lack of inspiration. However, quite a few of you lovely readers have expressed the wish for me to write another one and of course I cannot resist. Let me start this one off by saying that I don’t intend to piss anyone off or cause major uproar- these are just my European views of the way things are in America…
I’ve lived in the US for almost five years now and one thing I just can’t wrap my head around is guns. I come from a big city in Germany and guns just weren’t present- nobody had them, nobody talked about them, they were just a non-issue. It’s not that guns are illegal in Germany- you can own a gun if you get a permit. It’s just that nobody WANTS to own a gun. I think in the 28 years I lived in Europe I knew two people who owned a gun, one of whom was a collector, the other a criminal who is now in prison.
Don’t get me wrong, I think shooting is fun. It requires a lot of concentration and precision and is a great stress reliever. And I would fully trust myself and my husband with a gun. But other people? Not so much. I don’t like the idea that pretty much any person above a certain age can legally purchase a gun here, the main reason being that I don’t trust people. People can’t figure out which form to fill out at the post office or when to use their blinker in the car- do they really need a gun?!?
And people don’t just have guns here. They LOVE them! They collect them and go to shows and conventions and join clubs and associations. They dress their tiny children in combat gear and let them hold a huge deadly weapon to take a picture that they find ‘cute’. When tragedies happen (again and again), like the one today, people are up in arms (I hope you appreciate the pun) defending their guns. ‘It’s not the guns’ fault!’ or ‘Guns don’t kill people, people kill people!’- which are both true. I could also say that atom bombs don’t kill people, people kill people- that doesn’t mean that everyone should have atom bombs readily available to them. Also, since it is the people who are the killers, do we really want to make their task easier and faster by giving them effortless access to guns?
I get it- the Second Amendment protects gun ownership. The Bill of Rights is a crucial part of the US Constitution and I have studied it extensively during my time at university. I just think that maybe it would be useful to look at the structure of the US in 1789 vs. today. We have police now. And the biggest military force in the world. All territories within the US have been ‘discovered’ and there is no more unknown frontier, no more Wild West.
Many people say that they want to own a gun for protection. Others want it for hunting. I find both of these reasons absolutely understandable and justified. However, I do not understand why people are against having some sort of license to own a gun. You need a license to FISH- and I don’t mean the crazy dynamite kind, I mean the innocent throw-your-hook-in-the-water kind. As my idol Judge Judy said: “You have to take a test to give a pedicure! […] But you can go and buy a lethal weapon, including an assault rifle, with nothing more than your driver’s license.”
After all, I guess that’s what Europeans don’t understand about the love of guns here- they are lethal weapons. They’re not like knives that serve lots of other useful purposes. A gun’s sole purpose is to injure or kill a living being. I am always painfully aware that e.g. the person who I had a disagreement with over a parking spot could be a nutcase with a gun. In my case- and I think it’s the same for a lot of Europeans here- guns everywhere don’t make me feel safer, they make me feel more afraid of my fellow humans.