Tom and I have twice walked the Camino de Santiago de Compostela,*
Along the Camino we met, and walked with,
The two main questions people had about us had to do with our health care system and our culture of gun violence.
Why don't we want national health care like they have, they'd wonder, and why do we have so many guns and so many shootings?
Some people had the impression that the United States was an exceedingly dangerous place, where one must live in fear of getting shot then not being able to afford treatment.
I couldn't say that impression was false.
One day I was walking for a while with a woman from New Zealand. This was in 2013, the year following the Newtown, Connecticut massacre where 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School between the ages of six and seven were fatally shot along with six adult staff members.
The woman wanted to talk about the shooting, which had horrified her and her countrymen. She asked me the usual question: why do Americans shoot each other so often?
I gave her my usual answer to the question, that our lawmakers were in the pockets of the gun-making industry, and also that Americans loved their guns.
The woman wasn't buying it. She said that New Zealanders also loved their guns. She said that everyone in New Zealand owned guns for sport but that they didn't go around shooting each other.
"That's crazy," she said.
What was wrong with Americans? she wanted to know. How could we shrug off the deaths of all those children? She told me that her family was enraged when they saw on the television an American lawmaker saying that there was nothing to be done about tragic deaths of the Sandy Hook children.
She assured me that if anything like that ever happened in New Zealand they'd do something about it, all right.
A week ago today 49 people were murdered in a mosque Christchurch, New Zealand by a white supremacist with an assault rifle. Yesterday the Prime Minister of New Zealand announced a ban on the sale and possession of all assault weapons, effective immediately.
The reaction of the people of New Zealand to the ban has been overwhelming approval.
Apparently the government of New Zealand is not fed by the gun industry
As are our lawmakers.
*See my Camino blogs: