Finns could show us the way

To the editor:

Now that we’ve sent our thoughts and prayers to the latest victims who died at the hands of another fellow American with a gun, let us also show support with our actions. We live in an area with a strong sense of Finnish pride and community. Local Finns have brought us together to celebrate their country and culture with events such as Juhannas, Heikinpäivä, and Pasty Fest. We live in an area where our streets have Finnish names, many schools teach Finnish to our children, and Hancock is sister city to Porvoo, Finland. The Finnish ties run deep.

According to respected criminologist Frederic Lemieux of George Washington University, from 1983 to 2013, statistics show that while the United States had the highest number of guns per inhabitants (88.8 per 100) and 78 mass murders, Finland came in third with 45.3 guns per 100 inhabitants and two mass murders. So, how do we respect our current interpretation of the Second Amendment while also living peacefully? Maybe the Finns could show us the way.

Finland is currently celebrating 100 years of independence, and Finnish diplomats have been traveling to the United States to give talks. We can help mark the occasion by bringing a Finnish ambassador to our area to speak, from a Finnish perspective, about the gun violence we’re facing and how to reconcile a relatively large gun ownership with a peaceful society, as Finland seems to have accomplished.

Let’s not kid ourselves into thinking the Copper Country is immune to gun violence and mass murders. We have friends, relatives, and neighbors who suffer the same afflictions we attribute to recent perpetrators of gun violence, be it mental health, domestic violence, or other issues. However, we are unique in that we have the largest concentration of Finnish Americans in the United States. Let us look toward Finland for help in ensuring our schools, churches, and other public spaces remain safe for all to enjoy.

This will not be the only solution to a complex problem, but let it be a start. If you would like to have a thoughtful conversation regarding this issue, please contact me at sbrodeur@crimson.ua.edu.

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