All I want for Christmas

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At this special time of year, our thoughts often times turn to those things that we value most; whether that be religion, spending more time with loved ones, maybe the gifts we want for ourselves or those we’re excited to give to others.

For me, it’s family. More specifically, just because of the age of my kids, it’s my children. This is their season. It’s their season for wonder, their season for joy, their season for excitement; I can’t imagine Christmas without them. But sadly, for an ever-growing number of parents in America, their loss goes far beyond imagining. Their reality is a Christmas without their children, because far too many of them have been lost to gun violence.

When writing these blogs I try to think about things from both a British perspective, as well as an American one. It’s not an exercise in playing tit-for-tat any more than it is to provide balance. However, it’s hard for me to discuss guns in a British context as their existence, at least in any sort of proliferate nature, has long since been consigned to history. So, in a roundabout way, let’s instead look at football, aka soccer? Stay with me here.

Back in the 1970s and '80s, football matches where not only attended by fervent fans, they were also blighted by an unwelcome and significant hooligan element. Hooligans ran riot on the terraces, getting drunk and very disorderly, routinely starting mass brawls in stadiums, tearing up seating to be used as weapons, and in the surrounding streets terrorizing families who ofte times then stopped attending games, instead opting for the safety of home and the T.V. In the mid '80s, hooligans ensured that English teams were banned from playing in European competition for five years.

Today, I’m relieved to report that any hooligan element at British football games is extremely minor, almost non-existent. The government got involved, and grass-roots campaigns began to emerge as fans took a more active role in helping stadium stewards and police identify and extract troublemakers from the crowd. The football community in chorus said enough is enough, and football has been immeasurably better for it.

Now, I am not directly likening gun owners to football hooligans; that would be an unsubtle and unfair comparison. What I am doing, though, is suggesting that when something appears to be harming large sections of society — regardless of whether or not we make changes to it — reasonable people ask, is this acceptable? Or, at the very at least, they engage in meaningful dialogue.

I know the issue of gun ownership, control and use is wrapped up in the Second Amendment – something else for which we have no real parallel in England – so I’m not going to try to tackle that. I respect America, its laws and governing documents too much to do so. All I am suggesting is that there be conversation.

A year ago Two years ago, 20 children and six adults lost their lives to a horrific act of gun violence at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Nothing much has changed since then. In fact, since December 14, 2012, there have been another 95 school shooting incidents, many of them resulting in fatalities.

It could be argued that guns remain more protected than children, and subsequently hundreds of parents continue to mourn the loss of their babies this holiday season. As a society, is this really what we want for Christmas?

Mark Turner is formerly of Oxford, England, but has lived in America for the past 15 years, the majority of that time in Colorado. Mark enjoys playing soccer, hiking and biking when the weathers good, and when the weathers rotten writing blog entries that he hopes will amuse and entertain. Mark can be followed on Twitter @melchett.

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