A Summer in Spain: Armas del Fuego

Helen Rogalski, Managing Editor

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“Did you hear about UCLA? So scary!” My Spanish friend Claudia messaged me on Friday. I hadn’t heard about it yet, but she didn’t have to say any more. I figured there had been another shooting on a college campus.

I was relieved to hear that only two people had died and this feeling gave me a lot of perspective. Claudia was scared, I was relieved. This is because shootings in America are so unbelievably common that I’m not even surprised anymore. The fact that this wasn’t a mass shooting like those in San Bernardino, Newtown, or Aurora made me feel relieved.

I am aware of how horrible this is. Unfortunately, anytime a school shooting occurs, I fear for my life, and for the lives of my other friends in school across America. The question is not whether or not someone can shoot up one of our schools, but whether or not someone wants to, because it’s that easy to get a gun in America.

Spanish news stations often cover shootings in the US. We watched as the reporters covered the story of a man shooting at the White House a few weeks ago, and we watched that night as they reported on the UCLA shooting.

We talked over dinner about how sad these events are, no matter how often they occur. My host family explained to me that in Spain, no one has guns. It would be VERY difficult to acquire one if someone wanted to.

During a later discussion, my friend from London also said that getting a gun in the UK would be very difficult. She said that because guns are so hard to get, that more inner city kids carry knives. That being said, it would be very hard to commit mass murder with a knife.

These discussions made me think back to a conversation I had with my Australian friend. He said that after the mass shooting, The Port Arthur massacre everyone’s guns got recalled, and people gave them up willingly, after seeing how much damage they could do.

He also brought up the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting. He made the point that even after things got as bad as they could be, with 20 innocent children being brutally murdered, America failed to strengthen their gun laws.

This is quickly becoming the United States’ reputation across the world. People are obsessed with their right to bare arms, no matter how many lives we lose along the way.

When my host sisters asked me why people are allowed to carry guns, I explained to them that this was a right given to all citizens via the Constitution.

I understand that people believe in this right. And, honestly, I get that people want to have guns. However, I don’t understand why our nation has yet to strengthen regulations and gun control. The number of people who are killed by guns per year is extremely high in relation to other developed countries. The New York Times reported that 8,124 died from guns back in 2014. It’s impossible not to imagine how much that number will have grown by the end of 2016.

Again, I can understand the idea that stable minded Americans want to protect their rights of the second amendment. However, it needs to be more difficult for people who want to do harm to others to obtain firearms, without question.

I don’t want to be afraid for my friends and family across America. And, I don’t want my Spanish family and friends to be so afraid for me and my protection. No person should be fearful to go to the movies, school, or elsewhere.