CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - An American police officer who complained in a letter to a Canadian newspaper about not being able to carry a gun during a trip to Calgary has become the target of another kind of weapon: the tweet.
Twitter users have let loose a barrage of jokes over Walt Wawra's August 7 letter to the Calgary Herald complaining that he could not pull a gun in Canada, a country that, unlike the United States, stringently restricts firearms.
Wawra, a veteran of the Kalamazoo, Michigan, police department, wrote that he felt threatened by two men who approached him and his wife at Nose Hill Park and asked, "in a very aggressive tone", if they had been to the Stampede yet, referring to the city's rodeo and Western heritage festival.
"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, 'Gentlemen, I have no need to talk with you. Goodbye.'"
Wawra said the recent mass shooting in a theater in Aurora, Colorado, and also incidents in Canada, showed why "a man should be able to protect himself if the need arises."
The letter sparked a frenzy on Twitter, where many ridiculed the reaction to what appeared to be a mild encounter, spawning the hashtag #NoseHillGentlemen.
Jenn Prosser tweeted: "Drove through Kalamazoo, MI., yesterday. Didn't stop to chat."
"Someone just asked me if I am watching any of the Olympics. I wanted to reach for my gun," wrote a University of Toronto grad student with the Twitter handle Margs_I.
A sign outside a local restaurant read: "Have you been to the Stampede yet? Just kidding. Don't shoot me!"
The imbroglio gained attention across Canada and beyond, where stories in the Kalamazoo Gazette and U.S. pop culture website Gawker have added to its notoriety.
Reporting by Jeffrey Jones; Editing by Doina Chiacu