The American gun culture is baffling and confronting.

Stars and StripesDid you know there are 220 million guns in the United States?

I found out where about ten of them are kept on Saturday night. One of them was in a car in the carpark outside the wine bar I was in.

I’d never been spun out so much by a conversation than I was that wine bar on Saturday night listening to everyday citizens talking about their favourite guns and the ones they own and the ones they yearn to own.

The reason I was in the wine bar of course was to celebrate Jessica’s birthday, something I’d never been able to do before due to the small factor of living on the other side of the world to her (the travel has been a bit of a killer for celebrations).

Now, Jessica and I think on a similar wave so it was no surprise to me to hear she was anti-guns, but her friends were very different. Three of them casually began chatting about the guns they own, the sounds of different guns they enjoy and the ones they are thinking of buying.

The sentiment they all shared was they felt safe having a gun in their home because they can defend themselves if someone breaks into their house.

Never before had I really stopped to appreciate Australia’s strict gun laws. Sure I have seen our police officers’ handguns on the streets and have been faced by police and soldiers with rifles, but there is a difference between being asked by an Israeli solider on a bus for your I.D. and having a gun sitting under the seat of your car when you go shopping at the supermarket.

In Arizona (where I am), if you are over 21 there is now no need to hold a permit to carry a concealed weapon. I.e. I could go down to the gun store today, buy a gun and a weapon and legally carry it around in my bag along with my camera and purse.

Perhaps I think simply on this matter, but I feel that if you are carrying guns around you are promoting gun crime and the law enables it.

Thinking the gun culture couldn’t really get any bigger, (clearly I am deluded) I found out there is a move to appoint an official state gun:

From KPHO Phoenix, July 2011:

‘Arizona has a state flower, a state tree, even an official state neck wear. And coming this year it could have its own official state firearm.

Senate Bill 1610 would amend the Arizona Constitution to name the as the state’s official firearm.’

So the next time I travel to America to visit Jessica, I may just be met by flags depicting the Colt single-action along with the flower and tree (I’m not sure what the official neck wear is, I’m yet to see that on the streets). But at least there is one person in the state that thinks the same on the matter to me.

 

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