International students add different perspectives to U.S. gun control debate

Published: Clarion Newspaper, February 6, 2013  

Protesters gather around Wisconsin's Capitol
on Jan. 19 to voice  their opinion on gun rights 

Photo Credit: Sylvia Lim
The connecticut shooting was an awful tragedy, not only for U.S. citizens but also for the world. Our heart is broken to hear how Adam Lanza dared to kill 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School and most of them were children. This horrible massacre fuels a major debate over gun regulation across America. Obama’s proposal to control guns creates a hot pro and con debate. Gun control and safety issues are interesting to discuss, especially when I talked with foreign students to collect international perspective.
“I usually travel alone in my home country, but I prefer not to do that here. I’m scared because I know that people have guns,” said an Indonesian student who lives in Seattle, Wash. In 2005, a survey held by Gallup showed that three in ten Americans owned a gun. Most of them said that they used it for protecting themselves, for hunting and for target shooting. But whether the weapons are used for crimes or self defense, the number of gun owners have a strong connection with unsecured feeling.
Ryoji Asano, a Madison College student from Japan said, “One of my friends in California was attacked by strangers. He was bleeding so badly and taken to the hospital. It made me very sad.” Asano added that people in America certainly need a gun to protect themselves. “In my country, civilian citizens are never allowed to own guns and it’s fine. We don’t need that. We have less people, so our government can more focus to prevent crimes.”
Meanwhile, Zia Ulhaq, a Madison College student from Pakistan has different opinion. “American policemen are great. They can give respond very quickly. If my country is safe like here, why should we keep guns?”
However, America is not the only country which allows its citizens to bear arms. Pakistan is the same. According to Ulhaq, in Pakistan, guns are important for self defense. “I have five guns at my home. When the military or army came to our areas, all policemen disappear because they are scared. We had no choice. So, my brother trained me on how to use gun. I was 30 when I learned how to shoot at the first time. We were taking turns to stay awake at night, to make sure that no one would harm our families. Until now, I never shot anybody.”
I feel sorry for the bitter fact that a school could turn out to be the most unsafe place. When I watched the gun owners’ rally in at the capitol, I was surprised with the ideas to propose teachers to keep guns at school. It’s sounds ridiculous and scary at the same time. Dealing with a shooting surely is not a teacher’s job and it’s dangerous to put deadly weapons around children.
Since American citizens have rights to keep guns, I strongly agree with Obama, that it needs to be controlled in a particular way. Not to violate the rights, but to build a more secure environment in this nation.
Like Ulhaq said, “The problem is not the gun, but the bullets. We need to set limited bullets. For example, two bullets in a gun. When a thief come to our home, we can shoot him and call police. That’s all. But when people are allowed to keep more bullets, they have a chance to massacre.”
At last, one question remains. For gun owners, how safe do you feel?

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