I live in an area that I warmly refer to as Slav-land, basically Southeastern Europe, less basically the Western Balkans, explicitly Serbia. This morning due to an internet outage I was forced to watch televised news - most specifically CNN International.
When there is a tragedy like Newtown, I try to avoid TV news even more than usual. However, this morning as I was going through my routine, I detected English with a Slavic accent coming from the TV. Then as I turned my attention to the TV, I realized that this was a Newtown father whose child had been rescued from harm's way by the quick response of a teacher.
This man has managed to step forward in the midst of this pain and tragedy and incomprehensible event and make one strong statement to the NRA: "...return this country their kids". I believe that we should all hear what more this Slavic brother has to say:
on Tuesday, Andrei Nikitchyuk traveled to the nation's capital, along with other Newtown parents, and joined a press conference held in front of the hosted by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. These are his words:
"For many years, I watched what was happening in this country," Nikitchyuk said. "I held these beliefs — America has deep history with guns. It's part of American history. Gun owners and people who handle guns, they know how to keep them safe and be responsible."You can read more about this press conference and the family's story thoughtfully reported on at The Newtown Courant
"And, you know, every time something like Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora were happening, I would avert my eyes and [would] still think that something would be done," he said. "But all those beliefs were shattered Friday. And now I think we all need to speak up. ... So, let's unite. Let's stop this partisan division. ... It's an issue of safety for our children. That's why I decided to step forward."
"I think, we are America, we can do it. This is a beautiful country," he said. "Let's make it back to the country it was — safe for kids."
All I can say is that for people in so many other countries, our gun policies seem to be insanity. It is true that in countries where gun ownership is highly regulated, there are still shootings, but not with such frequency. Also when something like that does happen in another place, one of the first questions is always, "How did he get a gun?". The reason for that question is because it is indeed hard to get a gun.
I really do not know of a country where it is easier to get a gun than in the United States. I am sure there must be some places, and I am sure that knowledgeable people know which countries these are, but it remains a fact that we have some of the most liberal gun laws in the world.
I know that when many Americans think about the Balkans, they think of war, conflict, and violence. I can tell you that when these terrible things happen, people in these countries that have borne so many wars, so much conflict and agony, think that what goes on with guns in America in the hands of the general population is just insanity.
I believe that we should really hear Andrei - our Slavic American brother - out and think very carefully about what he has to say to us.