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Letter: Of monsters and the possible

People pray Oct. 9th at a makeshift memorial for victims of the Oct. 1 mass shooting in Las Vegas, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
People pray Oct. 9th at a makeshift memorial for victims of the Oct. 1 mass shooting in Las Vegas, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

A man went into various gun shops in California, Utah and Nevada, and legally bought enough weapons to start his own army. Before long he had thousands of Las Vegas concertgoers running for dear life, including some of our very own Newfoundland and Labrador citizens. Nearly 60 of those unfortunate people were killed and 500 or more wounded, many with life-threatening injuries. The guns he bought created a monster. As surely as the art creates the artist, his guns made him a monstrous killer.

Like you, I watched the aftermath with horror and disbelief. For a few days I actually thought surely this would start a gun control debate in the United States. It did. If whispers, promises, and might-be(s) pass for debate, there was some debate — even the National Rifle Association (NRA) became involved. And what was the upshot of this soul-searching? There was some indication the law of the land might ban bump fire stocks. 

And like you, I had no idea what that meant until Las Vegas happened. Apparently, it allowed our monster to make his semi-automatic weapons fully automatic; his guns became weapons of monstrous lethality. 

I ask you, how could there be a serious discussion in the United States about gun control? For the last two years at least, so much of the U.S. national debate has been about Second Amendment rights. Donald Trump ran and won on a promise of protecting those rights. Furthermore, in the United States Senate, at least 10 members have received in excess of a million dollars from the NRA to support their runs for election or re-election. One, Sen. John McCain, received in excess of $7 million. 

That’s the same NRA that boasts 4.5 million members, or so it is said. In addition, there are 275 million guns in the United States. There are only 317 million people, which means there is nearly one gun for every person alive in the U.S. It would take a civil war, a revolution, to get control of those guns.

By comparison, for example, only 1.8 per cent of all white people in the U.S. once owned slaves — the vast majority of which lived in the southern slave-owning states. Yet, even after slave-owning had become totally anathema to much of the civilized world, it took a civil war to separate the owners from their slaves. Can anyone imagine U.S. citizens giving up their guns with less violence? Yet, there might be another way.

I believe that Grandma Moses, bell hooks, Donna Laframboise, Susan B. Anthony, Dorothy Inglis, Naomi Wolf, Wendy McElroy, Oprah Winfrey, Helena Gutteridge, and thousands of other feminist activists were and are seeking equality with men, not sameness. And additionally, I am suggesting that because they do view the world differently, it just might be they could not only change the gun control debate, but help rid the U.S. and Canada of its most deadly weapons. How so?

I watched in total awe as the women of Ireland helped lead the way to ending the “troubles.” Then there was their role in banning land mines and now the banning of nuclear weapons. If you are still with me, imagine if every woman in the U.S. and Canada “took a knee” in opposition to guns. But you ask, what would take a knee mean in this context? I would leave that to the imagination of the leaders and let them decide, but it could very well shut down much of North America as we know it.

And no, I don’t blame those who ask, why would you put this incredible responsibility on the women of North America? My only answer is that men have overseen all this from the get-go and have shown themselves to be totally and utterly incapable of giving up their deadly toys. While there are tens of thousands of women who use and work with weapons, I don’t believe they are anywhere near as attached to them as are men.

I ask: if you, as a gun owner, had to decide between your weapons and perhaps your wife and/or family, how would you decide?

 

Wayne Norman
St. John’s

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