International Thoughts On Gun Laws

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Illustrated By: Matthew Martin

In America there is the belief that the gospel of democracy should be spread to every nation across the globe, so much in fact that some find it difficult to understand why countries do not adopt the same laws that America has.

It is evident in an inspection of the recent partisan conflict of gun control that America’s influence, in regards to gun laws, is on the wane.

America has the highest civilian gun-ownership rate in the world, 89 guns per 100 people, according to an article in the Huffington Post.

“In America, there is a culture based around guns,” said Jorge Majfud, a Jacksonville University professor, Ph.D., and native of Uruguay. “Such beliefs date back to the framing of the Constitution.” 

For several of Jacksonville University’s international students, some of America’s laws on guns compare much different to the laws of their home countries.

For Henrik Synnes, a sophomore from Norway, gun-control laws in his home country are strict.

“Back home, the only time you see guns are when people go hunting,” Synnes said. “Most police officers don’t carry weapons but ever since the terror attacks of 2011, there has been an increase for some officers.”

The shooting that Synnes referred to was one in which Anders Behring Breivik shot and killed 69 people in July 2011. Breivik obtained his weapons legally by joining a shooting club and taking a hunting course.

“Guns are not a part of our society and back home people are against them,” Synnes said. “Most people I know back home think that the U.S. gun laws are pretty ridiculous.”

Ashton Pett, a sophomore from New Zealand, finds his home country’s view on guns compare similarly to those of Synnes’ home country.

“Back home we don’t have many guns,” Pett said. “Our police don’t even carry them. I hardly ever hear of shootings back home so when I see these problems in America, I’m just glad we don’t have the same issues.”

In contrast to Synnes, Pett says that Americans need to have guns in their country in order protect themselves.

Tanya Singh, a senior from India, says that her country’s gun-control laws are very restrictive.

She says that applicants for a gun-owner’s license in India are required to prove genuine reason to possess a firearm. For example, target shooting, personal protection or security. An applicant for a firearm license must pass background checks which consider criminal, mental and domestic violence records. Gun owners must also reapply and re-qualify for their firearm license every three years.

“To say the least, my country sees that America could benefit from stricter gun laws,” Singh said.

In contrast, Majfud still sees a need for the access to guns in America.

He recalls that as a child in Uruguay his grandfather, a farmer in a rural area, would take a gun with them every time they had to travel.

“I complained every time he would put the gun in the car because I hated guns when I was younger,” Majfud said. “Now, I saw that he was responsible for the rest of us and had zero chance to call the police when he faced a criminal on the road.”

The responses from international students vary and the solutions are not clear. For Majfud, the solution does not lie solely in laws.

“The solution, I think, is more education and culture,” Majfud said. “It must lie in a culture that does not prize violence and consumerism as much as we do.”

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