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  • Grannt Epstein

Gun Violence from an International Student Perspective

Updated: Sep 27, 2023

“Before coming to America, I knew guns were entrenched in American Culture,” said Yash Shingan, a fourth-year student at the University of Toledo. What took Shingan by surprise was when he went to Walmart for the first time and saw guns in the Walmart. “It was so casual.”

Shingan, a Media Communications major, went on to explain, “I knew people liked to carry guns, but I didn’t realize how common it was.” Shingan is originally from India and came to the United States for college.


Discussing gun culture, Shingan gave his perspective on gun culture in India, “even some gang members [in India] do not have guns. They just use knives.” Shingan talked about “how rare guns are. We do not even see them.”


“I found it surprising that school kids were worried about guns,” said Ruchita Kulkarni, a sophomore at the University of Toledo.


Kulkarni grew up in India. After the shooting in February at Michigan State University, Kulkarni was more nervous than ever about being on campus. “[the shooting] felt wild to me.”

Kulkarni was scared and decided to confide in her roommate. Her roommate responded with “that cars have the same statistics” when compared with gun violence.


“Still safer than in America,” was a running joke used by Kulkarni’s family in India when comparing violence to other countries.


Neither Shingan nor Kulkarni were friends with anyone who owned a gun. Both only heard about guns in the context of the shootings in their time here.

Kulkarni stated that, “guns [and the topic of guns] makes me feel uneasy.” Shingan had the opinion that “assault weapons have no place in civil society.”


Mai Mang is a student at the University who is from Vietnam. Mang has “been here for four years and in Vietnam we can’t have firearms.”


Mang went to high school in America, and did not pay too much attention to guns and gun violence until she started attending college. “It seems that there is more gun violence now and it is scary.”


“I thought people had to go through training to get a gun,” Mang explained. She went on to talk about gun culture in Vietnam and how “there are no guns, period. The only people who have guns are criminals. Why do you need a gun just to walk around?”

Like most Americans, Mang went through training for school shootings while in high school. During one of her first drills, she had thought there was an active shooter on campus. “I texted my mom ‘I am going to die’.”


Mang was asked if she was friends with anyone pro-gun, “No. While I understand the second amendment has a place in American life, you shouldn’t have the ability to kill others.”


Tram Nguyen, a junior from Vietnam, first came to America in 2016. When talking about guns in America Nguyen explained, “I don’t remember my first mass shooting since I have been in America.”


Nguyen, a biology major, talked about how, “There was a false alarm scenario when I was in High School in South Carolina.” The whole school went into lockdown and all Nguyen could think was, “is this normal?”


The first family to host Nguyen owned guns. “It took me by surprise. He [the dad] talked about how they were necessary.”


Explaining that if someone broke into the house, he needed to protect Nguyen and his family. “There should be more mental health advocacy. It is too easy to get a gun.”


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