I wasn’t shocked by the news that a 5-year-old Kentucky boy accidentally shot his 2-year-old sister to death last week. I’m not even shocked that it happened because the mother had walked away just for a moment.  I was mortified, however, that the handgun he shot her with was his birthday present the year before. Whaaaaattt?  I had to Google the story just to be sure I heard that right.

How is it possible that while some parents agonize over whether the food they’re feeding their kids may be genetically modified or tainted with E. coli, others don’t even think twice about gifting a .22-calibre rifle to a preschooler? The prevailing gun culture in the U.S. highlights just how foreign our neighbouring country is to me.  As Canadians, we see the U.S. as our closest ally, a country we feel most akin to.  Some would say “we’re just like Americans”.  Then a story like this breaks and it flies in the face of Canadian convention.

In Toronto, Canada, meanwhile, an all-points bulletin went out earlier this week to the public to watch out for a young man roaming the city because witnesses saw him carrying and loading a gun at various points throughout town.  The whole city was on high alert because of this one gunman.  Canadians are frightened of guns.

And that seems about right to me.

This notion in many parts of the U.S. that guns are a badge of honour that need to be handed down from generation to generation… well, that’s just crazy talk to me.  If guns and learning to use guns is the legacy we as parents are proud to pass on, I would suggest we have not made progress.  What is it about the right to bear arms that is so sacrosanct to some?  If none of us owned guns, we would not have to worry about being attacked by anyone else, right?  Right?  What am I missing here?  I feel like I read a book that was missing a chapter.

To the parents of the Kentucky boy: how do you feel now?  Are you ok with this?  I don’t mean to make you feel bad (ok, maybe I do, a little), but you have to believe that if you got your son a Lego set instead of a gun, you would still be able to wake up to a smiling 2-year-old girl today.  It’s not one of those decisions where you can look back and think, “If I had just known that a gun could kill someone, I wouldn’t have bought it.”  I really make a concerted effort not to judge other parents, but I feel I have the right to judge you.

Some days, I am so perplexed by the decisions made by some parents.