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Friday, November 30, 2007

Gun Europa

Posted on Fri, Nov 30, 2007 at 6:47 PM

By Sam Winston

Guess where there this picture was taken? I'll give you a hint. The city has an openly gay mayor. The country is considered one of the safest industrialized nations in the world. And the two neighboring shops were an upscale hair salon and a yuppy cafe/lounge.

click to enlarge p1000987.jpg

If you guessed

Hamburg, Germany, then you guessed right. I spent just spent the afternoon in this gun store and chatted with two old German men about everything from old American muskets to the three different versions of "Deutsch" each Hamburger can speak.

Fittingly, in the news today was also a proposal by the European Union to have a uniform gun code across the continent to avoid "becoming a gun-friendly culture like the United States." Bring on the theories, comparisons, statistics and the rigamarole that is the "gun debate" in America right? Wrong.

Throw out your notions of American right and left wing gun politics straight out the window. As I've learned, they don't work here.

I saw the guns in the window one night recently while strolling through the neighborhood and was fairly shocked for several reasons. There's the obvious statistical comparisons of murder per capita to European nations and the States, with most of the jaw dropping stats pointing to our high level of gun-violence and inferring some sort of blame on "U.S. gun culture." Secondly, a friend here was robbed at knife-point and his ATM card was emptied to the last penny, which sounded funny to me because it wasn't with a gun. Additionally, after discussions with several Europeans about how violent New Orleans is, most of them wondered out loud "I wouldn't even know where to get a gun here."

Well if they didn't know where to get a gun it's not because they aren't any gun shops here, it's because they've never looked for any. In New Orleans, the murder capital of the U.S, you still have to cross the Jefferson Parish line before you'll find a legal place to buy and practice shooting a gun. Yet there's a gun store in my neighborhood in Hamburg and hardly anyone has even bothered to notice it.

However, if a city that The New Republic once called "a bastion of multi-cultural tolerance and a stronghold of the left," can so casually have a gun store tucked amongst one of its major neighborhoods while the gun aficionados that I spent the afternoon listening to welcomed the newly proposed uniform EU gun regulations and the city still has a very low violent crime rate? Then that means both sides of the gun debate in the United States are doing something terribly wrong.

- The New Orleanian Abroad


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