And they like it that way. The U.K. isn’t known for flaunting nationalistic pride — America is much better at that — but Britons’ opposition to firearms is something they do like to shout about.
“What kind of gun do you have?” the boy from Cambridge asked last weekend, making casual conversation. I blanched, but he didn’t hesitate.
“We assume all Americans have guns,” he told me.
The events of the past two weeks, then, have given the British much to worry about.
News from Kenya has been splashed across every newspaper in London this week, replacing the stories and photos from Navy Yard that dominated the week before.
Last week, even the lone television in the rundown supermarket in West London broadcast details of the United States’ latest shooting.
My roommate stared at it while she shopped and the man beside her turned. “Americans,” he said, shaking his head. “All we hear about is how they keep killing each other.”
The outright disdain for our country’s policies is off-putting, and it’s unfamiliar — but it’s hard to blame incredulity from a country where even the police officers walk unarmed.
It’s discomforting to recognize that one gun incident involving schoolchildren led to an outright elimination of firearms in their country, when it only added fuel to the fire of a vicious debate on rights in ours.
But it’s another feeling entirely to be witness to a society here in England that functions fully without guns.
To remember those from home who treasure their guns for the security they provide, while living among others now who gain security not by arming themselves more but by knowing everyone else is armed less.
A month ago, on my first day of class, my British professor stared at me as she spoke, as she outlined the difference in gun politics between her country and mine.
“We don’t get how you don’t get it,” she said indignantly, regrettably, with a heavy sigh.
I shrugged beneath her gaze.
I’m sorry, Professor. I don’t get it either.