The U.S. is having a gun control debate. Before you check to see if you’re reading an old newspaper: it’s January 2023.
The mass shootings continue throughout the country, with two high-profile massacres in California, one about 30 minutes from my office here in West Hollywood, and one several hours north of L.A. (There might’ve been others since this column was written Monday night.)
The reality is, according to the popular website GunViolenceArchive.org, it’s rare that the U.S. goes two or three days without an incident.
The news channels have hours and hours of panel guests talking about how something needs to change. They blame everything from gun control laws, to politicians, to social media, to immigrants, to video games, to mental health. They never blame their culture though.
In 2016, my syndicated radio shows broadcast travel programming from Houston, Texas for the Christmas holidays. I went backstage at the ballet’s The Nutcracker, we taped segments at the national funeral museum (it’s a thing), the city’s big aquarium, I went indoor skydiving, and we did a segment where real-life cowboys dressed me up in a clothing store.
In between tapings, the local tourism board scheduled meetings with people. I had dinner with the marketing executive from one of the hotels we stayed at. A sprawling resort, a country club of sorts, with historic roots to the city. Read as: quite posh and you’d need money to go there.
While we had dinner in the chic restaurant, she brought up the two conversations I, as a Canadian, always face when having a sit down with Americans: healthcare and guns.
As an innocent Manitoba kid, I said I didn’t understand the gun thing. She matter-of-factly said, “You know that half of the people in here probably have a gun on them, right?”
With that one question, my mood and comfort instantly changed for the rest of my time in Texas.
Not that I expected a table-flipping bullet-flying brawl, but it just seemed unnecessary that people would think to bring a weapon to a fancy place. Remember, this was 2016 before the country really had a problem.
In 2019, we taped in Phoenix and popped by a Subway restaurant and an employee had a gun holstered on her hip. I told the tourism rep we weren’t staying. Seeing the weapon on display was enough to get me out of there.
So, the country can continue its back-and-forth gun debate for another election campaign, but the problem will still exist because the vast majority of the population is pro gun. (The government reports there are more guns than people in the country.)
The fact that Americans feel it’s an everyday item to grab before leaving the house like car keys or a cellphone, means the culture itself needs to change.
I’m not claiming I have the solution to fix their deep-rooted problem. I’m just concluding that I don’t hear anybody saying, “We kinda do like our guns but maybe we should give them up.”