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Thursday, August 2, 2007


A news story caught my attention the other day. It was (another) journalism piece about Iraq. This time, however, the headline was absent of the words “violence”, “suicide bombing”, or “death”. Instead, the topic of the report was pleasant, imagine that!

The reporter went on to inform the audience that, on this particular day, there was rare rejoicing on the streets of Baghdad. Iraqi’s were temporarily united in their joy because the national soccer team had won an important tournament. It was a shocking victory, which only fueled the feelings of celebration.

I even found myself smiling as I was watching the piece. “What a pleasant day for this war-torn land,” I thought (not in those exact words, but you get my drift).

As a sort of afterthought, the reporter concluded the story with this sentence (paraphrased): “Many jubilant Iraqi’s fired their rifles in spirit of celebration and ten bystanders were killed by the stray bullets.”


I threw Richard a puzzled look and asked him if he caught that last comment.

Ten people killed by “celebratory” gunfire, and it’s an “oh, by the way…”? Imagine if that bystander was Ellie. Or Richard. Or mom. Or Cherise. Or Amy. Or Sunny. Or….

Ten families were completely destroyed that day, as cheering erupted in Iraq.

I realize that ten casualties in Baghdad is hardly newsworthy. But, shouldn’t it be? I won’t even begin to try to understand why on God’s good earth people would celebrate a soccer victory by shooting loaded rifles into the air. I will claim cultural, racial, gendered, and religious lack of understanding on that one.

What bothers me most is how often these sorts of deaths are mere afterthoughts, not just in Iraq, but everywhere. In Dallas, a gang-influenced fatal shooting incident hardly made it into the morning paper. It bothers me that we have become so accustomed, and perhaps immune, to the consequences of guns in our neighborhoods.

I’m not sure what the right answer is in response to the growing gun problem in North America (and, obviously other parts of the world, but my knowledge is admittedly limited outside our continent). Tougher gun laws are a no-brainer in my opinion. I know that gun laws will not entirely keep the guns off the streets, and that black market weapon exchange will flourish, but, if it keeps one psycho from getting his or her hands on a gun, I’m all for it. I truly believe that the percentages of gun-related deaths and injuries are so much lower in Canada than in the US because of our strict(er) gun laws. If it were up to me, NO ONE outside of law enforcement would be allowed to carry or possess a weapon legally.

Someone asked me once if I had a PERSONAL fear of weapons, or if I thought that my loved ones were in danger of being shot. Yes and no. I feel quite safe here in my little Canadian prairie nook, where no one (that I know of) owns a handgun (Uncle Frank has a hunting rifle, sure, but that’s not concealed in a night stand drawer, and when not in use, it is never loaded). However, some friends of ours in the States admit to owning a hidden (in their house) loaded weapon. Truthfully, I do not think I could let Ellie spend the night at these homes. The thought of Ellie or her little friends getting into a drawer and finding a loaded gun, takes my breath away. I’m thankful that I’ve yet to be put into the position of turning down a sleepover request, but it’s still in the back of my mind. So, YES, guns, and their terrible effects DO affect me personally.

I realize this has become somewhat of a rant (It’s my blog and I can rant if I want to…), but I’m fairly passionate about this topic. I don’t want to be an afterthought on a news report. I don’t want to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I don’t want to be that bystander, or even worse, know that bystander was a loved one.

It IS personal.


The Duncans said...