American Wanting to Pull His Gun on Canadians Becomes Twitter Joke

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.

He continues:

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

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183 comments

Annmari Lundin
Annmari Lundin3 years ago

How come there are more than 70 people that think the cop should have had the right to pull a gun at the two men? Just overlook the fact that he was in another country than his own. If he misunderstood the situation and fired a gun and killed two persons that were completely innocent. Would he then be charged with a crime or hailed as a hero? That would probably be the latter if it had happened in the US, where shooting first and don't bother to ask any questions afterwards, are more common than you think. It's a sick world when people think that having a gun will save you from everyone you perceive to be a danger. If everyone had a gun, then noone would be left standing!

Wendy Schroeder
Wendy Schroeder3 years ago

What a redneck! What scares me is the fact there are a lot of men in America similar to him.

Robby C.
Past Member 3 years ago

DareToCare- thank you. You're right, while I have kept up somewhat w/this thread, I did miss your reply. IF you are correct, that this was in fact a couple of Canadians trying to be polite, then I agree. But living close by doesn't neccessarily mean that you are right- it doesn't mean in any way that you are NOT right either, of course... I do often see that many Care 2 articles leave many things out, however, & that's why I ask for more info before jumping to conclusions. And I do have a prob w/this title. It makes it sound as if some American wants to just go up & randomly start shooting innocent Candians. Doesn't sound like that was the case, but titles like these mislead people from the bginning.

In the end, I think writing a letter the way that he did, after the fact, when the situation did NOT (as far as I know) become volatile anyway, seems a bit over the top. I do know how some cops are- some, not all. Some are trigger-happy control freaks- takes all kinds. I aIso agree w/you that one does need to respect the laws of the country one is in. Of course, here in the US, people who visit/move here just try to change our laws to suit their needs. Kinda funny. But in the end, it sounds as if he did respect your laws b/c it sounds like he didn't have gun on him. He just wished to have that right. BUT, if your citizens can't carry guns, then neither should a visitor IMO...Another question here- was his feeling threatened more a result of cultural differences / mann

Elizabeth M.
Elizabeth M.3 years ago

I am sure happy that we have gun laws in Canada, however there are gang activities that are related to shootings. I for one would like to see the sale of guns stopped altogether!!!! and bring in the Troops to clean up this gang activity!!!

Elizabeth M.
Elizabeth M.3 years ago

People and guns do not mix well. I am thankful for our gun laws in Canada.....however there certainly is gang activity with resulting shootings, and I for one would like to see this stopped, even if it means bringing the Troops to clean it up.

DareToCare Still
l Butcher3 years ago

. In Canada it is against the law to shoot people for speaking to you. Period. Perhaps it is different in yours. He made an a$$ of himself and embarrassed a lot of citizens in his country with his kill first, ask questions later mentality

DareToCare Still
l Butcher3 years ago

Hi Robbie B - First I'd like to say that I agree with one of your conclusions as stated (but not for the same reasons) I understand that you more than likely did not get to read previous comments since Care2 doesn't seem to show them once a topic gets past a certain number of posts- that being said I will state once more (for your benefit) that since I live just outside Calgary, we were privy to more information regarding this than others perhaps. Sometime the authors of these pieces DO get their info right. In this case I believe that they did. A paranoid, gun happy police officer from another country came into mine and felt threatened by an innocuous question - a common one during the Stampede - "Have you been to the Stampede yet?" Two young men had the "nerve" to ask him that - not just once, but twice!!!! Then he was foolish enough to write a letter complaining about not having his gun. What do we think might have happened if Mr Macho had been armed I wonder? Two dead young men maybe? Unacceptable. Even he stated in his outrageous letter to a local paper, that the two young men looked dumfounded by his hostile reaction. So yes, I agree with your comment: "I(f) you're willing to attack someone, aside from self-defense, then you probably deserve to be shot." This “naked without his gun” vigilante probably did deserve to get shot – fortunately for him, he wasn't. When one visits a foreign country, one needs to respect the laws of said country. In Canada it is

Robby C.
Past Member 3 years ago

"I'd much rather get into the odd fight with some jackass than have a 4 to 8 times higher chance of being killed by a firearm like in the states."

Sorta depends on how far the "jackass(es)" took that fight now doesn't it? Sure, if you came out on top, no prob, but the fact is, no one should even have to take so much as one punch by a violent individual. I you're willing to attack someone, aside from self-defense, then you probably deserve to be shot. We don't need violent people here on earth willing to attack people or even try to strong-arm / intimidate. The more of those types who are disposed of, the better this world will be. In this case, no one here really knows what happened (nor do I) but everyone's quick to jump to conclusions. I'm glad those conclusion jumpers don't believe in guns b/c they certainly aren't mature enough to use them safely. This cop may have been in a VERY tense situation. He may not have. But just b/c a Care 2 article says something like this doesn't mean it was such an innocent situation...

Michael MacDonald

It's Canada numbnuts.

The most likely worst that could have happened was getting into a little scrap.

I'd much rather get into the odd fight with some jackass than have a 4 to 8 times higher chance of being killed by a firearm like in the states.

If you don't like it here,
then stay home.

nicola w.
Jane H.3 years ago

Guns and people - recipe for disaster - mental illness is rising , drug abuse rising , depression rising - I suspect cops and veterans have higher rates of mental illness and suffer very badly.