No Toasters in Louisiana!

The other day we were at a local car dealership going through the. buyback process for our emissions cheating VW diesel.

As usually happens with us and our British accents, the discussion turned to “where do you come from”. The young man was from Louisiana, a very “southern” US state, so some talk of differences in upbringing ensued. Now to give you some background, we are old enough to remember the days when small local banks in the US competed for new customers by offering a gift for opening an account with them. The classic gift, and one often lampooned in comedy routines, was a toaster. However, in Louisiana, when he opened his first account the bank gave this young man a shotgun! We thought that he might be joking, but no, that is what he got, and he considered that quite reasonable as “Everyone has guns. They need them to protect themselves”.

This I think should help us to try and understand the huge difference in perception between gun people and the rest of the US. If you live in the UK, then the gulf in experience is even wider. For people like our young man, life is still like the Wild West. Properties are so widely scattered that Law Enforcement is seen as a distant chimera and there is a persuasive perception of the need to defend oneself.

Interestingly I find the rationale behind the perception somewhat self serving. If as the young man said, the need for a gun came from having to be able to defend yourself if your house was broken into at night, and the police were so distant and uninterested, then why would this not equally apply to a town dweller in any US or UK city? The police will still be, at best, several minutes away. And, as the classic movie line goes “help will be here in five minutes” which engenders the reply “but we’ll be dead in two”. In reality the police don’t stop you having your house broken into wherever you live, they are always going to arrive after the event. So is there really a difference in the need for self protection between Louisiana and England?

Better to have a toaster!

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