Author Topic: Guns in the US--how does the rest of the world view this?  (Read 3520 times)

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camlan

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Guns in the US--how does the rest of the world view this?
« on: October 03, 2011, 12:19:01 PM »
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.)
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Bethalize

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Re: Guns in the US--how does the rest of the world view this?
« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2011, 12:28:45 PM »
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.

dawbs

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Re: Guns in the US--how does the rest of the world view this?
« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2011, 12:49:00 PM »
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.


marcel

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Re: Guns in the US--how does the rest of the world view this?
« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2011, 01:05:42 PM »
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.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2011, 01:09:00 PM by marcel »
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Diane AKA Traska

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Re: Guns in the US--how does the rest of the world view this?
« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2011, 01:12:37 PM »
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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Lynn2000

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Re: Guns in the US--how does the rest of the world view this?
« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2011, 01:23:51 PM »
Interesting question. Being in the US, I will not really be able to answer it. :) I live in a Midwestern city and though I have a couple relatives who like to hunt (and thus own shotguns), no one I know of owns any other type of gun. Maybe some kind of antique thing from the Civil War passed down through the family, is all. I would be really weirded out to see a gun on someone, even "in context" like in a police officer's holster, that's how rare they are around here. Just my personal experience. :)
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jmarvellous

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Re: Guns in the US--how does the rest of the world view this?
« Reply #6 on: October 03, 2011, 01:32:14 PM »
I see lots of guns in my work (on the computer screen!) because I edit lots of things about both crime and hunting.

I did not grow up around guns at ALL, and in fact grew up with tons of fear of the things. As far as I know, no one in my parents' extended families has them.

But, with that said, probably half of the boys (and maybe 15 percent of the girls) I went to school with got guns when they were around 10 years old, give or take, and went hunting with them with their fathers. I have never witnessed actual hunting.

My friends and I have talked about getting licensed for guns (including concealed carry, which is allowed in Texas) because it's seen as so pervasive here, and some of us would rather be informed and never use them than not. But even in that, there are some people who would rather just know about it and never actually buy a gun. Only a few of my peers have made it known to me that they own or carry.

I am accustomed to police and military carrying guns. I can't say it makes me feel more secure, but it doesn't shock me.

hollasa

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Re: Guns in the US--how does the rest of the world view this?
« Reply #7 on: October 03, 2011, 01:48:59 PM »
As a Canadian, we do tend to assume that Americans are more prone to having firearms around than people in other countries. Some quick googling has turned up information such as the "United States has 90 guns for every 100 citizens, making it the most heavily armed society in the world", and an estimate that 45% of Americans have one or more firearms in their house.

I don't think that people are necessarily expecting to see lots of guns displayed in public - but they would be around somewhere. Hopefully, locked up somewhere in a gun case!

Outdoor Girl

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Re: Guns in the US--how does the rest of the world view this?
« Reply #8 on: October 03, 2011, 02:01:36 PM »
Another Canadian here...

I'm a small town girl, originally.  We had guns in my home growing up.  A shotgun and a 22 rifle for hunting, as well as assorted air guns/pistols for target shooting.  Unless we were actively using them, they were never in sight.  My brother is a hunter and has a number of long guns that, under new legislation, are required to be locked up, separately from the ammunition, and require trigger locks and cases when being transported.

My impression of Americans is that hand guns are more prevalent, although not nearly as prevalent as TV and movies would have us believe.  I would expect to see rifles in rural areas, in gun racks in vehicles (which are not allowed here.)

I think it was good advice for the poster hosting the teen from the UK.  I don't think the police in the UK have regularly carried sidearms for all that long.  I know I remember as a kid, reading that the 'bobbies' didn't carry guns, only nightsticks.
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violinp

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Re: Guns in the US--how does the rest of the world view this?
« Reply #9 on: October 03, 2011, 02:17:52 PM »
American here. Our family has quite a few rifles, but no ammo. Why? My grandpa got Alzheimer's, and one night he pointed a gun at my grandma. Once our house is remodeled, Dad is going to display the guns - one of which he made himself. Dad never bothered to get ammo, as he never hunts, and he has loads of other stuff with which to protect us.

For me, guns aren't just something to keep you safe - in fact, I think the antique iron in my room would be more useful - they're also beautiful and ties with history.
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Ms_Cellany

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Re: Guns in the US--how does the rest of the world view this?
« Reply #10 on: October 03, 2011, 02:21:39 PM »
Both our former & our upcoming tenants owned handguns. The former ones never mentioned it, but I saw a handgun on the coffee table when I came over to fix something.

The upcoming ones told me because he didn't want to find out that it was something I was against (he's a criminal lawyer and keeps it for defense from crazy clients). I had previously told him there were two main rules: Pay the rent on time and don't burn the house down. I told him there were now three: Pay the rent on time, don't burn the house down, and don't shoot your landlord.
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Peggy Gus

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Re: Guns in the US--how does the rest of the world view this?
« Reply #11 on: October 03, 2011, 02:23:27 PM »
My Dad is a avid hunter and is very active in competitive shooting. I have been around guns my entire life, so to me they are not a big deal. We were taught how to use them, and most importantly, gun safety at a very early age. Like others have said, it is difficult to discuss without bringing politics into it a bit. But it is a constitutional right, and people take that very seriously.

CG

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Re: Guns in the US--how does the rest of the world view this?
« Reply #12 on: October 03, 2011, 02:33:28 PM »
We have handguns in our house. My husband has his concealed handgun permit, and I'm about to apply for mine.  He carries a handgun almost any time it is legal for him to do so...and you would never know it unless he told you, there was a reason for him to take it out, or you grabbed his butt.  Mine will be the same way.

Wench

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Re: Guns in the US--how does the rest of the world view this?
« Reply #13 on: October 03, 2011, 05:10:39 PM »
The changing point for the UK and hand held guns happened in 1996 due to the Dunblane massacre If you want more information wikipedia give a full account of the incident and and how the UK laws changed.

Before 1996 guns were more available but I think still stricter than the USA.  I did once use a pistol at the local leisure centre for practicing shooting.  I was nine and it was an activity that was offered as part of the post pup club ( a Saturday morning children's group) 

I have seen the police carry machine guns but I live near the naval docks which is open to the public but this is unusual.  The only other time I have seen guns carried openly was in the Phillipines in the malls and that was bit of a culture shock. 

Miss Vertigo

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Re: Guns in the US--how does the rest of the world view this?
« Reply #14 on: October 03, 2011, 05:17:20 PM »
I find the idea more than a little horrifying, but that's because as a PP states upthread, the UK culture is one where guns are very much feared.

But more than anything else, I find it completely baffling.