I feel safer living in the UK

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In addition to holding a British passport, I have an American one. I spent my first 24 years in Silicon Valley, but call Blighty home, living here for 20 of my 47 years.

We travel to the US regularly, spending holidays with my ageing parents in California.

Being raised by teachers, I was taught to dissect and debate issues. Owning a gun was never OK in our house. The purpose of a gun was to kill. We’re also Christian. Why would we want to own a weapon that would kill someone?

Of course I was aware of families that owned guns. The argument was always the same: “It’s my right to protect myself.” Sometimes “right” would would be proceeded with “God-given” or “constitutional”. Fair enough.

But what about MY right to protect my family from people that do atrocious things with guns?

I’ve never paid much attention to Piers Morgan (I hate reality TV and I’m not a huge fan of the papers he worked on). That aside, I think I’ve just fallen in love with him. He’s been able to articulate so well what I have been thinking regarding gun control in the US. He also uses the word hogwash.

Watch this debate; Piers points out that after the shooting of 16 children in a school in Dunblane, the UK banned private ownership of handguns. He also asks how many children have to die before the US decides less guns would be better (there 270 million guns in the US). Nicholas Kristoff wrote a nice opion piece too. I’d say I was in love with him, by my husband reads my blog and he may begin to wonder.

There are 60 million people in the UK, a country with strict gun control laws, and 35 deaths by guns.

There are 330 million people in the US, a country with minimal gun control laws, and 30,000 killed by firearms.

It took me a little while to work out maths (feel free to correct me): the UK is about 1/5 the size of the US, implicating that if we had the same gun control laws, we would have 6,000 deaths per year via guns, not 35.)

Back to living in the UK. There are some things I don’t like about this country: I love that the NHS is available to everyone, but dislike that a yearly mammogram is not available and I can’t easily get my kids flu jabs. I love the British “we will prevail spirit”, but could do without the class system and whole self depreciating thing. I love Sunday roasts and OMG I love Marmite. Period. I mean FULL STOP.

But the biggest thing I love about the UK? I feel safe. If some moron broke into my home they would steal a laptop or iPad or some other electronic device. But most likely they wouldn’t point a gun at me. I feel the the same about going to the cinema or mall.

I’ve been trying to figure out why I burst into tears when I read the stories of the families affected the Sandy Hill shootings. I didn’t know them and they are thousands of miles from me. But when I read that Emilie, 6, loved art and that she carried crayons with her everywhere and made cards to cheer people up, I thought of my youngest and wept.

As I picked up my girls (aged 7, 8 and 10) from the school gate on Friday, I felt a heavy sadness for the families of the Sandy Hill shooting victims. Then I quietly thanked God that my girls came rushing out, as they do every Friday, thrusting their music cases and ruck sacks into my arms, demanding to know where their Friday cake sale treats were.

Photo credit: awkwordrap

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  1. Kizzy Bass
    01/01/2014 / 07:29

    I know I call the UK but as you say at least we know we are safe here. It breaks my heart hearing of another school shooting in the US and I really don’t understand how any human can say after innocent children are murdered that they have right to own a gun and put others at danger. Great post and thanks for reminding me of one of the reason’s I still love the UK. Happy New Year. ( Over from the Britmums Carnival)

  2. 31/12/2013 / 16:39

    I’ve always baffled by American laws! Not sure how these poor children would have been safer if there more guns available, but it’s easy to see how they could have home with their families today if the boy concerned had been unable to take his mothers assault rifle and murder them! And just while we’re on the subject – a hand gun to protect yourself is kinda stupid, an assault rifle? really?

  3. 14/01/2013 / 13:06

    I totally agree with you. We just moved here from the US a few months ago(I’m American, my husband is French) with our 3 children 7, 6 and 3. I feel my family is so much safer here. Thank you for working out the numbers (I’ll trust that they’re accurate enough because I couldn’t be bothered to do so!). I am strictly against guns, but of my two brothers (one redneck, one former Marine) and one sister (a police officer), I’m the black sheep. They claim the key is to promote responsible gun ownership. Well, maybe, but frankly fewer guns simply means fewer deaths from guns. Loved your post.

  4. 08/01/2013 / 18:01

    I enjoyed this post and you make some interesting points. I think the US at some point has to completely change its attitude and laws regarding guns. Of course there are going to be those who opose change but unfortunately for them they have to be ignored on this issue. There are responsible gun owners all over the world, but the fact remains that there are those who cannot be trusted and like they say ‘there is always one that spoils it for the rest’. I visited the US a few years back and was shocked to discover that you could also purchase ‘stun guns’ and ‘pepper sprays’ which are also banned in the UK. We are by no means a perfect nation and people will always find a way of harming others, i.e knife crime. I feel that we should not make it easy for people though and that is why as many dangerous weapons as possible should be banned.

  5. Nancy Sands Johnson
    19/12/2012 / 18:38

    All of us stateside moms wept on Friday and through the weekend. Guns are a part of the problem, for sure. What I’d also like to see discussed seriously by our legislators here is the connection between mental illness and these mass shootings. The focus right now is just on guns, not on the fact that mentally disturbed people of all ages, and particularly vulnerable children and young males, do not have easy access to treatment, whether it be medication or talk therapy or both. It is easy for parents feel ashamed and isolated if they have a child with a serious mental disorder, and it is easy for society to blame the parents when something terrible like this happens. Certainly, Adam Lanza’s mother was irresponsible for keeping guns in the house knowing her son had emotional problems. Perhaps she was informed about the danger her son posed and chose to ignore it; perhaps no one ever put things in such stark terms for her. It would be hard to admit your child could be capable of such actions, but I hope this is a wake-up call for parents of children, particularly males, with mental illness. And a wake-up call for our government to fund help for these families.

  6. 19/12/2012 / 18:37

    It’s all so tragic, needless deaths and what makes it more tragic is that I feel nothing will be done America won’t ban guns or even limit them and we will all be here again agonising over another terrible event.

  7. 17/12/2012 / 16:54

    Great post, Susanna, with some enlightening links to coverage elsewhere. I’ll have to check out Piers Morgan’s take as well…

  8. nappyvalleygirl
    17/12/2012 / 16:22

    Very good post. It has made me realise I do want to go back to England and have my children educated there.

  9. Susanna
    17/12/2012 / 16:15

    AND how exactly can a gun save you when it’s kept safely and locked and not loaded, and your gunman is in front of you?

  10. Susanna
    17/12/2012 / 16:12

    Let’s hope he goes for it.

  11. Gail mowat
    17/12/2012 / 16:08

    If Obama really wants to leave a legacy he should oversea the disarmament of America.

  12. iota
    16/12/2012 / 14:56

    Good post. Good summary of the issue.
    I always wonder how exactly it would feel to people if they did indeed use their right to defend themselves. You hear someone breaking into your house. You shoot them. They die. Is that really worse than losing your tv and ipad? I don’t want to be naive – of course if they are carrying a gun, it might be you or them. But responsible gun owners keep their weapon locked up, and separate from the ammunition. So how likely is it that a responsible gun owner would be quicker off the mark than the intruder?
    Off to check out what Piers Morgan has to say.