It is not that our city is a stranger to homicide, mind you. More than once we have donned the crown of Homicide Capital of Canada, with a murder rate that would put us on par with more than a few rural villages south of the border. On the other hand, gun deaths are comparatively rare up here. Again, not unheard of, but usually you hear about them in binge killings where somebody decided to go for quantity over finesse. Most of the homicides in this city come in more personal forms like beatings, stabbings, throttling, angry spooning, curb stomping, Garden Weasel™ bludgeoning and other hands-on murders of that ilk. When you get a gun death, it tends to spur conversation.
In this case, the conversation has been about the dangers posed by gang activity, the lax security around the nightclub (though the incident happened outside of the club), the police response (the original 911 call over the initial disturbance was cancelled for some reason). Obviously there has been concern over the fact that a gun was used in the crime, delivered to the shooter by a legal minor.
Something that has not entered into the dialogue though is the suggestion that this somehow might not have happened if everyone at the scene had been packing a gun. There might be a few up here who would agree with that assertion, but for the most part, one preaching such a gospel would be met with dubiousness, and even a little distrust. A single gun at the scene was bad enough; how could another eight or nine panicking people lobbing around bullets possibly make the situation anything other than worse? There is a tacit social more here that suggests that guns have no place in a polite society. We are not a gun culture.
I do not begrudge our neighbours to the south for loving their guns. It is what it is, and they are what they are. They are good neighbours, and decent folk who harbour a strange fascination with tools for dealing death. I have my own quirks. They don't involve stuffing my house with lethal weapons, but I am sure others would look askance at them. I don't hate guns. I have gone target shooting on more than one occasion, and my father was a policeman, so I am familiar with the feel and handling of them. I have just never really felt the overwhelming desire to own one.
I have no good reason to want one. There is no practical place around here to take it shooting, and I am not really motivated enough to head off and hunt for my own food. I am lazy, and grocery stores are convenient. I would derive no Zen-like pleasure from taking it out of its case to cradle it now and then. I don't fear my neighbours, government or countrymen enough to feel the need to pack one with me at all times lest I need to defend myself. Nor, I think, do they harbour the same fears about me.
I find it hard to imagine living in such constant fear of those around me that I would feel naked if I did not have a lethal projectile weapon with me every time I left the house. I can understand how I might feel that way if I lived in an undeveloped country under a corrupt regime, filled with starving people competing for few resources, but I just can't wrap my head around feeling the same way in a rich, comparatively well-governed country.
Ultimately, I have to admit that I just don't understand a gun culture. It strikes me as a culture based on maintaining mutual fear among peers. I am not here to condemn it; if it works for you, go wild. Pack your piece and feel at ease. To my mind though, it is probably the deepest line in the sand that separates our culture from our neighbours to the south. I have spoken about it with friends and peers, so I know I am not alone in thinking that it is ... kinda creepy.