Sanctuary and guns

Sanctuary and guns

Those Americans sure are weird! Troubled people go on shooting sprees and kill children in their classrooms, and they are debating if they should abolish the constitutionally protected right to gun ownership. Teens, aged 16, 17 or 18, charge into crowded areas, guns blazing, and they are afraid that any restrictions on the sale of assault rifles may be the beginning of an attempt to weaken their constitution.

All of this seem weird to a country like our own, which solved the issue of gun ownership in typical Greek fashion: We have laws, but we do not apply them. Possession and use of firearms are officially illegal, but we have even seen politicians shooting in the air with, by all accounts illegal, guns. On Crete, tradition even allows celebratory gunshots with Kalashnikov rifles, as opposed to Texas, where the needless use of guns in public areas is penalized (Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, Sec. 125.0015).

‘Gun possession is like academic sanctuary. Good ideas of freedom twisted by life’ 

Of course, to be fair to the Americans, as weird as gun ownership is to us, especially after everything that happened, “academic sanctuary” must also sound equally weird to a typical Republican. If some US citizen was to read that, for example, if a theft was reported on a university campus (based on the old law passed by Education Minister Kostas Gavroglou), the police had to apply for permission to investigate the incident, they would shake their head and think: “Tsk, tsk, tsk! What are these Greeks thinking?”

Let us consider now that a US citizen finds out that hooded assailants broke into the construction site of a library and tore down the walls using sledgehammers. He gets over the first shock, “What is their problem with libraries, especially as they have so few?” He reads that the main opposition party along with the other leftist parties, as well as the country’s intelligentsia, are not angry over the destruction, but instead are denouncing the police for guarding the concrete foundations. He then sees the photos of young men wielding clubs under the veil of a red flag attacking riot police (to “break the stranglehold of oppression,” they say) and then they accuse the police of using violence. “Tsk, tsk, tsk! These Greeks are crazy,” he would say.

On a different scale, gun possession is like academic sanctuary. Good ideas of freedom twisted by life. They both have a history behind them, called upon by their defenders. Both carry a mythology of “resistance to the Leviathan state,” or the freedom of the man with the club. “Don’t touch academic sanctuary,” say some; “I’ll give you my gun when you can pry it from my cold dead hand,” say the others.

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