My favorite feminist idiot, Jessica Valenti, has a new column up in which she reveals her daughter’s privileged, white girl cluelessness about the world, and reinforces the poor child’s ignorance in the name of progressive, tolerant politics.
This child has lived five years in New York City and has never noticed that police officers carry real, actual guns on their waists? Really? Has she noticed that trees have leaves and water is wet? How clueless is this poor, sheltered thing? I feel sorry for poor Layla. Not only is her mother willing to exploit her child-like fears for clicks, she is willing to have the whole world know her daughter’s name. The epitome of child as ‘successory’.
The truth is that I resent that I have to tell my daughter anything about guns. I resent that I have to be afraid for her. In 2012, after the shooting in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut that left an unimaginable 20 children dead, my husband and I got a message from Layla’s daycare that they were starting lockdown drills. They informed us that these drills taught to the children would “become as familiar as our classroom naptime routines.” She was two years old at the time.
How do I tell her that some people hurt children with guns, or that we live in a nation where people’s right to own a weapon that kills trumps her right to safety and a life free from fear?
Gun control is such an interesting topic, especially in the context of the US. The liberal left wants only the state to be armed, while the conservative right is wildly dedicated to the concept of citizens as an armed militia, ready to rise up and overthrow the government at the first hint of tyranny, as is guaranteed by the Second Amendment. I tend to side with the right for the simple fact that when private citizens go on a shooting rampage, they tend not to kill very many people, as opposed to the state, which kills millions upon millions of people when things get down and nasty.
Canada is often held up as an example of gun control that works, although there is far more going on than just licensing requirements and restrictions. According to this Wikipedia page, the US had 112 firearms for every 100 citizens, ranking first in gun ownership. Switzerland comes 4th, with 45.7 guns/100, and Canada is down the list at 12th, with 30.8 guns/100. Three out of every ten citizens is armed in Canada, and contrary to popular belief, there is no huge urban/rural divide. In the city of Toronto, almost 300 000 citizens have guns. 21 000 of those owners have more than 5 guns (disclosure: my brother is one of them, and no, he is not a police officer). And yet, despite being relatively well-armed, we have one of the lowest rates of gun deaths in the world.
Rates of firearm related deaths/100 000
El Salvador 46.85
South Africa 21.51
United States 10.64
Latin America has some crazy gun-related death stats! It’s interesting that the media presents the United States as some kind of international basket-case when it comes to gun violence, but the US is way down on their gun death game compared to South America.
The media likes to link gun deaths to popular culture (movies, video games, music, what have you), but given that Canada essentially has an identical popular culture to the US, that explanation makes little sense. Many people have consistently tried to link gun deaths to ‘toxic masculinity’, but presumably, since Canada has a whole lot of straight, white guys, we have the same levels of ‘toxic masculinity’, and nowhere near the rate gun violence of the US. Not to mention that the whole ‘evil white men’ argument falls apart once you’re past the Sierra Madres.
There are two classes of firearms in Canada: restricted and prohibited. Prohibited sounds like these guns are not allowed, but that’s not quite true. There is a grandfather clause that allows people to own prohibited firearms as long as the weapons were registered before a certain date. In the Province of Ontario, for example, there are just over 250K restricted weapons in the hands of private citizens, and almost 80K prohibited weapons. Just over 4.5K are in the hands of minors (under 18). And yet, we have no history of minors (or anyone else) losing their minds and going off on shooting sprees. In the past 20 years, we had one high school shooting (1 dead, 1 wounded) and of course, the famous Montreal Massacre (14 dead). We’ve never had a primary school shooting, period. We also don’t have a huge number of accidental shootings. In 1995, 49 people accidentally shot themselves or someone else. There is no clear data on how many of those were children, playing with firearms. In 2002, that number rose to 67, although that number includes suicides, homicides and counts anyone under the age of 20 as a child. In any case, there is no epidemic of kids playing with guns and ending up dead.
How can this be explained? Canadians have lots of guns, we are not particularly shy about letting children handle guns, we share a similar social demographic with the US, we share an almost identical popular culture, but we don’t shoot the shit out of each other on a regular basis?
Clearly, the issue is not guns. We have guns. We have no wide spread culture of gun violence.
Perhaps Jessica and Layla should move to Toronto? She can then assure her daughter that even though guns are everywhere, her daughter’s ‘right to safety and a life free from fear’ won’t be compromised by icky, scary people with guns. Those icky, scary people are more likely to shoot the bear or wolf attacking her than shoot her. Or maybe Vancouver? There is a problem with big cats attacking and killing people in the mountain suburbs, but there’s also some ‘toxic masculinity’ around to shoot the cougar. Gosh, that ‘toxic masculinity’ sure comes in handy sometimes!
Nothing causes a meltdown in the left wing media more than suggesting that people who pick up guns and go shoot other people, often random victims, are fucking crazy! Mental health is not a factor! It’s toxic masculinity! Crazy people don’t shoot people, guns shoot people! Well, then why don’t Canadians shoot other people the way Americans do? Perhaps because we have a national healthcare system that affords decent, if not perfect, treatment for people with mental health issues? Researchers have linked mass killings to the use of powerful psychotropic medications, generally deployed in an effort to suppress/control men, and Canada is no stranger to drugging their kids. But we follow up on that with some adequate medical care and monitoring. I’m not suggesting that drugging men and boys is a good thing, but rather suggesting that if you’re gonna do it, you might want to follow up and see what the effects are, instead of just waiting around for the bodies to pile up?
I’m not sure what the answer to gun violence in the US is, but I know the problem is not guns in and of themselves. If guns were the issue, there would be a whole lot more dead people in Canada. The problem isn’t men, because last I checked, Canada had lots and lots of men. The problem isn’t video games and movies and gangsta rap, because we share that culture with the US. The problem isn’t drugs in and of themselves, because we drug men and boys here, too.
So what’s up?
It’s no secret the left desperately wants to disarm the people they disagree with, because they can’t roll out the final solution when the opposition has guns and will use them. Playing that out in terms of ‘what about the children’ is pure sophistry.
My husband and I did the best we could that night explaining that guns were, in fact, real, and that despite the fact that they are dangerous some people still own them. I hope Layla wasn’t too confused or scared by this, and I hope she keeps asking us questions. But most of all I hope that by the time my daughter is grown, if her child has questions – she’ll be able to provide them with very different answers.
Very different answers? Such as ‘all the guns have been taken away from the bad people and now only the state has them?’ Hey, Jess? Your husband is Jewish, right? Why don’t you ask him how that worked out? Just arm the state! What can go wrong?
Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. You might want to look that up. And pray Layla never has to wish she had a gun.
Lots of love,