- "Recently, while out for a walk in Nose Hill Park, in broad daylight on a paved trail, two young men approached my wife and me. The men stepped in front of us, then said in a very aggressive tone: 'Been to the Stampede yet?'" writes Mr. Wawra in his letter to the editor.
The 20-year veteran of the Kalamazoo, Michigan, police department, carries an "off-duty hand-gun" when in Michigan. But while visiting Calgary with his wife he found it strange not to be able to do so. Here is the rest of the encounter:
We ignored them. The two moved closer, repeating: "Hey, you been to the Stampede yet?"
I quickly moved between these two and my wife, replying, "Gentle-men, I have no need to talk with you, goodbye." They looked bewildered, and we then walked past them.
I speculate they did not have good intentions when they approached in such an aggressive, disrespectful and menacing manner. I thank the Lord Jesus Christ they did not pull a weapon of some sort, but rather concluded it was in their best interest to leave us alone.
Would we not expect a uniformed officer to pull his or her weapon to intercede in a life-or-death encounter to protect self, or another? Why then should the expectation be lower for a citizen of Canada or a visitor? Wait, I know - it's because in Canada, only the criminals and the police carry handguns.
- Ridicule, outrage and harsh words followed as Canadians reacted on social media to Walt Wawra's letter.
- Speaking to the CBC, Mr. Wawra said he has no regrets writing the letter.
“What concerned me is two young men just approached us and stopped us, stopping us by being in our path, and [began] talking to us without even being welcome to talk to us. They just took it upon themselves to yell at us.”
The Nose Hill Park incident did bring out a more sympathetic side among some Canadians.
- On her blog Working Mother Chronicles, Calgarian Erin Chrusch, who also works in the mayor's office, writes:
In between guffaws at all of the jokes being made at Mr. Wawra's expense, I started to feel a bit sorry for the guy. Not because people were mocking his formal language or behaviour, but because I can't imagine what it must be like to live in a world where I'm suspicious of every stranger, every casual encounter, every uninvited interaction... I appreciate the levity of #NoseHillGentlemen, if for no other reason that it reaffirms how sensible the majority of us are about guns and gun control... To me, it says that we assume people have good intentions until they show us otherwise. Just one more reason to be thankful that I'm raising my kids here, in the True North Strong & Free.