Dear Ann: I am a Canadian who cannot understand why you Americans are so naive regarding your safety and the safety of your children. I know the Second Amendment states, "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed," but I cannot believe your Founding Fathers would still feel this way if they knew innocent children were being slaughtered daily in one of the most advanced countries in the world.
A couple of years ago, the Toronto Star printed some very disturbing facts regarding guns in America. An article by Kathleen Kenna stated:
Fifteen American children die from gunshot wounds every day.
In 1996, 9,390 Americans were murdered by gunfire. Compare that to 106 in Canada, 30 in Britain, 15 in Japan and two in New Zealand.
The United States leads the world in using guns to kill its children. In 1997, of all the firearm deaths of kids under the age of 15 in 26 industrialized nations, 86 percent of the victims were in the United States.
Gun-related murder is the leading cause of death among African-Americans aged 15-24.
Guns are the second most frequent cause of death overall for Americans aged 15-24, and they are the top killer of youth in California.
More children are killed every year by guns in Washington state (population 5.5 million) than in Canada and Great Britain combined (total population 90 million).
Guns are the second leading cause of traumatic death related to a consumer product. (Automobiles are first.)
Wake up, neighbors! Your children are being killed thanks to the National Rifle Assn. and its lobbyists. Happy to Be Safe Living in Canada
Dear Safe in Canada: Thanks for a sane and sensible letter. A while back, the National Rifle Assn. was touting its defense: "Guns Don't Kill People. People Kill People." How ridiculous can you get? Yes, people kill each other, but it is a lot easier if you have a gun.
Thanks for those statistics. I hope they open the eyes of your neighbors to the south. I have long believed that Canadians are a lot more civilized in this area than Americans.
Dear Ann: I've been dating "Ryan" for three years. He is wonderful, but I have a problem with his family.
Ryan's parents and siblings are very open about sex. That's OK to a point, but they go too far to suit me. When they visited last month, they asked some very personal questions. They wanted to know how often we have sex and asked, "How satisfying is it?" They make such comments openly, in front of my friends and even my parents. I don't think this information is any of their business. Such questions are out of line, and frankly, they embarrass me.
I have asked them to be more discreet, but they say I am a prude. Ryan is very supportive of me and has told his family to behave more appropriately, but they are going to visit again in September, and I am nervous about it. Should I just laugh it off? Please tell me how to deal with them. Old-Fashioned in Oregon
Dear Oregon: When the clods visit, if they persist in asking questions that are none of their business, simply say, "Why in the world would that interest you?" Repeat it as many times as you need to. And don't smile when you say it.