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Guns in the US--how does the rest of the world view this?

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There's a thread right now about hosting a student from the UK for a few weeks in the US. One poster mentioned that the student would not be used to seeing guns and the host family should be prepared to deal with that.

This got me curious about how the rest of the world views Americans and guns, and just how many people think that most Americans own guns.

Here's my experience. I live in a small city in a rural area. Some people take hunting season seriously. They might have a gun rack in the back of their pick-up truck. I might see 5 or 6 guns in trucks each year.

That's all the guns I ever see. Can't tell you how long it's been since I've seen a gun anywhere else--at least 40 years, which is when my family stopped living on military posts. I guess the police officer who showed up when the house caught on fire three years ago had a sidearm, but I don't remember seeing it. Most of the police I see are in police cars and while I'm sure they have guns, you can't see them. My best friend's husband hunts, but his guns are always locked up in a gun cabinet. I've seen the cabinet, but never the guns. Most of my brothers are in the military and know how to use a gun, but they've never owned one. My dad was in the military and once or twice had to bring a handgun home--but I never saw it. We were informed that the gun was in our parents' room and that room was off-limits until the gun was removed.

Now, there are areas of the US where I think gun ownership is more common. But even there, most people keep the guns at home unless they are out hunting, and most states have laws about how the guns need to be secured and stored. In most areas of the US, a private citizen needs to apply for a special permit in order to carry a concealed gun.

Do people in Europe and other places think that the average American is walking the streets on a daily basis carrying a gun? Or where did the posters on the other thread think that the exchange student would see all these guns, except those that the police would be carrying? (And she might not even see a police officer during her entire visit.)

It's an interesting point. Although I live in a rural area you just don't see guns unless you are either a sportsman or involved with someone who owns land where you can shoot. I know some people who have .22 rifles, but in my head "proper" guns are the premise of (1) the armed forces (3) farmers (2) criminals. I was shocked when I saw an armed police office in London last month.

As for Americans and guns, it seems that guns are a fact of life that they just aren't here. Mind you, we don't have anywhere near the number or size of big dangerous wild animals there are in the USA. Nor do we have rabies. Nor do we live in such isolated areas. Learning about those factors made me view the issue of guns differently.

well, there's also the 'open carry' movement--which means seeing a firearm in some areas is getting more common.
(I am NOT trying to get into the politics of it.  Wikipedia if people want info)

Honestly, if you drive around my 'neighborhood' at night during late November (firearm deer season) you'd see lots of people wandering about w/ firearms.

I know that people do not walk around with guns all the time, but I am also aware that a lot of people do own them. Personally, I  do not understand why a person who does not go hunting regularly, or goes to a range for sport regularly would need a gun. With my ex, I was surprised when I found out that her father owns a gun.

There are a few people who hunt or shoot guns at a range for sport here, apart from that, there is no legal gunownership. People look suspicious at handgunowners, even if it is a legally owned gun

The police do also carry guns here. Due to a major series of incidents we have been having one or two cops at my workplace during the day time, mostly on a desk next to mine. It is odd when you are chatting with someone at work, and you see that that person is carrying a gun.

ETA the major incident is related, It is about the highwayshooter, who has been shooting at cars, only destroying windows so far, on the highway with an airgun, which are legal here.

Diane AKA Traska:
Interestingly, it is really hard for an American to discuss this without politics creeping in.  I've backspaced over the sentence you're reading now five times because I keep trying to explain why that is, and I can't explain why it's political without getting political!  And I don't want this thread locked.


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