Canadians, please remember to be quiet and gentle with visiting Americans. If you are too outgoing and they’re gun owners who have managed to smuggle their firearms across the border, you might get a free ticket to the nearest graveyard.
At least that’s what visiting police officer Walt Wawra implies in his letter to the Calgary Herald. The Kalamazoo, Michigan, man has 20 years on the force. He knows danger when he sees it.
Two guys approached while he and his wife were wandering the grassy expanse of Calgary’s Nose Hill Park. In his letter Wawra says the men were aggressive, asking twice, “Been to the Stampede yet?” He placed himself between them and his wife. When he brushed them off, he says they looked bewildered.
I speculate they did not have good intentions when they approached in such an aggressive, disrespectful and menacing manner. I thank the Lord Jesus Christ they did not pull a weapon of some sort, but rather concluded it was in their best interest to leave us alone.
Would we not expect a uniformed officer to pull his or her weapon to intercede in a life-or-death encounter to protect self, or another? Why then should the expectation be lower for a citizen of Canada or a visitor? Wait, I know – it’s because in Canada, only the criminals and the police carry handguns.
Twitter and Media Erupt
Wawra’s calling the incident a “life-or-death encounter” and suggesting Canadians and visitors should be carrying handguns set the Twittersphere abuzz. Tweets with the hashtag #NoseHillGentlemen started flying, including these:
- Steve Dangle Glynn: As a proud Canadian citizen, I’d like to shoot the #NoseHillGentlemen… a smile, and then invite him to watch hockey in my igloo.
- Mike Morrison: Hey, I just met you and this is crazy but….*bang bang*#NoseHillGentlemen
- DJ Kelly: My boss saw me in the hall & asked how my project was going. I speculate she did not have good intentions so I walked on.
- Aaron Stayner: Fun Fact. Murders in 2010: Kalamazoo (Pop 74K) 14, Calgary (Pop 1.1M) 15.
- Steph Guthrie: Think about it: the #NoseHillGentlemen encounter could’ve ended with two dead young men because of a psychotically suspicious gun owner.
- Joe Byer: The only creatures that need guns to protect themselves at Calgary stampede are wagon horses and baby cows.
Media weighed in with headlines like these:
- Google News: Canada ridicules unarmed US tourist’s fears
- Toronto Sun: Tweeters target gunless U.S. visitor
- Global Post: Nose Hill Gentlemen: gun-toting lowlifes or Canadian cowboys?
- Edmonton Journal: Paranoid Kalamazoo cop ridiculed over need to bear arms in Calgary Park
The two aggressive Canadians have not yet come forward so there is no verification of the report on Gawker that they were just handing out free tickets. However, the Stampede’s media relations manager told the Calgary Herald, “The fact of the matter is we have a much bigger publicity and marketing machine than two people wandering through a park.”
Sympathy for the Police Officer
As the Tweets continued to roll in, some Canadians began to feel sorry for Wawra. In a letter to the Calgary Herald Garth Klatt wrote about Calgarians tendency “to engage strangers in a big of chit-chat.” He continued:
Perhaps when Wawra returns to Calgary, he will have learned more about us and decide to ease up on his excessive wariness, the way some of our out-of-province Canadian friends have done. In the meantime, a few of us might want to get a grip on our bigotry.
With only one side of the story coming forward to give an account, we may never know just what happened in Nose Hill Park. What we do know is that two young men are probably feeling very relieved Mr. Wawra was not allowed to carry a gun while in Canada.
Sadly, Officer Wawra reminds me of a police officer I knew while growing up in southern Idaho. He was full of fun and a great pal to his children and those of us who were their friends. That gradually changed. After years of dealing with society’s underbelly, he became hardened and cynical. He saw danger everywhere.
Perhaps that has happened to the Kalamazoo police officer.
As for Americans and guns, Kenneth Blaha from Hudson, New Hampshire, said this in his letter to the Calgary Herald:
I write to assure the people of Calgary and Alberta that not all Americans are paranoid gun toters. I had the privilege of visiting Cold Lake on business last year and was made to feel so at home by the fine people that I joined in wearing a poppy on Remembrance Day.
Please don’t let one man’s frightened rant paint every-one in my country. Thank you for being such fine hosts during my stay.
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Photo 1 from Dave Parker via Flickr Creative Commons; Photos 2 and 3: Thinkstock