Sarah J. Carlson

Contemporary Young Adult Author

On being the token Yank: Gun rights (oh, crap, am I really going to put that out there?)



So gun rights…. American friends, I’m sure you realize it’s a hotly debated topic that starkly divides the nation. Non-American friends, in case you DIDN’T know, it’s a hotly debated topic that starkly divides the nation. So if you ask about it, you are likely opening, let’s say, a can of worms. I’m on a vacation with two of my best friends in Thailand and Cambodia right now, and let’s just say the topic was brought up by a bar tender from south of London and things got more than a bit heated between my friend and me. My poor third friend was just like screw you guys, I’m walking on the beach lol.

Not surprising that it came up really. I get asked about the United States and our guns, and our perceived love of them, all the time. Our mass shootings of generally innocent people routinely make international headlines…again and again. Our country is unique in the freedom people have to buy and own guns when compared to a lot of the rest of the world, particularly European countries. Our British friend today said that police in mainland United Kingdom don’t even carry guns. They do in Northern Ireland due to continued threats by dissident republicans, but that’s a different story. Farmers are allowed to own a gun for hunting, but that’s it. Anyway, I’ve been in several situations with other Americans on the opposite side of the fence where it’s clear that the Brit who started it is enjoying their s**t stirring. Generally though, people really don’t understand why our government doesn’t do more to limit the kind of guns and numbers of guns available or who can buy them. A lot don’t even understand why we have them at all because other places don’t feel they need them for protection and the fact that we have so many legally-owned guns means that there’s just more guns out there to be illegally obtained.

I’ve explained (very poorly I’m sure) the Second Amendment: The Second Amendment (Amendment II) to the United States Constitution protects the right of individuals to keep and bear arms. The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that the right vests in individuals, not merely collective militias, while also ruling that the right is not unlimited and does not prohibit all regulation of either firearms or similar devices State and local governments are limited to the same extent as the federal government from infringing this right per the incorporation of the Bill of Rights. The Second Amendment was adopted on December 15, 1791, as part of the first ten amendments comprising the Bill of Rights.

The Second Amendment was based partially on the right to keep and bear arms in English common-law and was influenced by the English Bill of Rights of 1689. Sir William Blackstone described this right as an auxiliary right, supporting the natural rights of self-defense, resistance to oppression, and the civic duty to act in concert in defense of the state.[8]

(; yes I was kind of lazy)

I will say there is great variety in gun laws state to state. My state only recently allowed conceal and carry, which allows people to carry guns on their person as long as they’re not seen, except in establishments that specify you can’t with a sign, like schools and churches. Some states don’t allow this at all. Some have longer waiting periods. I hear some you can walk into a gun show and leave with guns.

Here’s a few quick facts:

18 percentage points: Amount the share of households who own guns decreased from 1973 to 2010. Three decades ago, 50 percent of households owned guns, in 2010, just 32 percent do,, according to University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center.

65 percent: The portion of guns in America owned by just 20 percent of gun owners. When we debate gun control, there is the inevitable claim that gun ownership is a cherished tradition held by a vast portion of the country. For an example of this, here’s a National Review editorial making that case Monday. But the portion of Americans who own a whole bunch of guns is actually pretty small.

60 percent to 39 percent: Americans in living in the West who support more gun control versus those in the West who do not. Support for more gun control has a pretty clear regional divide, with the South, as you might expect, being most hostile to new gun laws. Southerners opposed gun control by 50 percent to 46 percent. Midwesterners are split, with 49 percent wanting more gun control and 48 percent opposed to it. And in the Northeast, 67 percent want more gun control, while 31 percent don’t. The South is by far the most violent part of the country, Kieran Healy points out at right.

52 percent: Americans who support a national ban on semi-automatic weapons.

62: Number of mass murders in America since 1982.

Three-quarters: Portion of guns involved in mass murders that were obtained legally, Mother Jones reports. Semi-automatic handguns were by far the weapon of choice, followed by assault rifles.

(Retrieved from

For the record….my family has never owned a gun and the first and only gun I’ve ever fired was in Viet Nam haha. Go figure. Some of my friends own guns for hunting or protection, some don’t.

Then people will ask about our love of our Constitution and why we can’t just change that part. I don’t even want to imagine what would happen, but then there’s this….


Haha let’s hope for this instead:


I’m not here to give my opinion on guns rights and what the United States should do about the mass shootings, it’s just one of my observations as the token Yank.

Do you find you get asked repeatedly about something by people from other countries? If so, what?

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