In recent weeks, the United States has been gripped by a relentless series of gun violence incidents, leaving the nation shocked and concerned. Adding to the alarming trend, a recent “bloody weekend” unfolded, further highlighting the urgent need for addressing gun-related issues in the country.
On May 13th, a tragic shooting took place at a train platform in western Philadelphia, claiming the life of a 14-year-old teenager. This incident served as a stark reminder of the devastating consequences of gun violence that often affect even the youngest members of society.
On the same day, in Albany, New York, a shooting occurred at a barbershop, resulting in at least one fatality and two injuries, including a 9-year-old child. The incident serves as a sobering reminder of the indiscriminate nature of gun violence and its potential to shatter lives and communities.
Prior to these events, on May 6th, a shopping center near Dallas, Texas, became the site of a horrific shooting that claimed the lives of nine individuals, including the perpetrator, and left seven others injured. This tragic incident marked one of the deadliest shootings of 2023, underscoring the urgent need for effective measures to address the pervasive issue of gun violence.
American campuses have become haunting grounds for cruel perpetrators, utilizing them as stages for violence and revenge fantasies. Recent incidents highlight the alarming trend of violence on these educational premises, leaving a trail of devastation and trauma.
On the evening of February 13, 2023, a large-scale shooting unfolded at the campus of Michigan State University, resulting in the tragic deaths of three students and injuries to five others, including two Chinese international students. This incident serves as a stark reminder of the vulnerability of educational institutions and the far-reaching impact of such acts of violence.
In the early hours of the first Saturday in October 2022, a shooting incident occurred at the entrance of UC Berkeley, resulting in one fatality and three injuries. The incident sent shockwaves through the campus community and raised concerns about campus safety and security.
During the early months of 2021, a series of large-scale shootings took place within a six-hour timeframe near the University of Chicago, engulfing the entire city in a “bloody weekend.” Tragically, 22 individuals were shot, and four lost their lives.
Witnessing the entire ordeal, a Chinese international student friend expressed deep psychological trauma, likening their daily existence to living in Gotham City, the fictional setting of Batman.
The staggering number of gun-related incidents and the relentless stream of disturbing news reports in the United States have deeply impacted the hearts of every international student and their parents. These events have sparked important questions and reflections regarding the prevalence of gun violence and safety concerns for those pursuing education abroad.
- With the prevalence of gun violence incidents in the US, why are stricter gun control measures not in place?
- Would studying in countries other than the US offer a safer environment for international students?
- Despite the pervasive risks abroad, why are students still willing to undertake the perilous journey of studying overseas?
- How can we take proactive measures to protect ourselves from potential dangers while studying abroad?
Why is the problem of gun violence in the United States difficult to solve?
The United States has a lenient policy when it comes to gun control, allowing ordinary citizens to legally possess firearms. It is estimated that the number of firearms held by the general population is close to 400 million.
Due to the massive stockpile of firearms, it is challenging to implement even basic gun control measures in the United States, let alone an outright ban.
However, other countries that also allow civilian gun ownership, such as Japan and Switzerland, have virtually no issues with gun violence. Countries like Australia and New Zealand have much stricter gun control policies compared to the United States.
India is another country with a significantly high number of firearms, with an estimated 70 million guns in private possession, ranking as the second-highest in the world. Despite being a nation with a large number of privately owned guns, India experiences relatively few incidents of gun violence compared to the frequent gun-related riots seen in the United States.
According to reports, although India allows private gun ownership, it is not as simple as applying and obtaining a firearm for anyone. It requires a thorough screening and investigation process to qualify for gun ownership. Strict penalties are imposed for illegal possession of firearms.
Obtaining a firearms license does not grant unrestricted freedom; individuals must also undergo training on how to use firearms. Any violation of gun control regulations can result in the revocation of their gun ownership privileges. Therefore, India periodically reviews the status of these legally armed individuals to minimize the potential for unrest.
Furthermore, while India has a significant number of gun owners, they are primarily concentrated among the wealthy. The purpose of gun ownership for the affluent is self-defense, and they do not resort to using firearms unless their personal safety is threatened.
Due to cultural and political differences, India’s gun control policies may not be directly applicable to the United States. However, as a neighboring country, Australia’s approach of implementing significant gun control measures following a tragic incident might be worth considering when it comes to addressing and curbing gun violence.
On April 28, 1996, a man named Martin Bryant opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle at a cafe in Port Arthur, Tasmania, Australia, while on a tourist visit. He shot and killed people inside the cafe and continued his shooting spree in other locations, resulting in the death of 35 individuals.
Bryant was subsequently arrested by the police and sentenced to 35 consecutive life terms without parole. This event later became known as the Port Arthur massacre and remains a tragic episode in Australian history.
Following the incident, then Australian Prime Minister John Howard immediately advocated for domestic gun control measures. He successfully persuaded the governing party and the nation to support comprehensive reforms to the national firearms control laws.
Less than two weeks later, the Australian legislative body decided to ban rapid-fire rifles and shotguns, raise the threshold for firearm ownership, and implement strict background checks. “Self-defense” was no longer considered a valid reason for purchasing a gun.
Furthermore, the Australian government prohibited the importation of automatic and semi-automatic weapons. This decision had a significant impact, as the occurrence of mass shootings in Australia decreased by 50% over the following 20 years, and the number of firearms in circulation decreased by nearly one-third.
In 2012, a collaborative study conducted by scholars from the Australian National University and Laurentian University in Canada showed that gun suicide rates in both countries would decrease by 80% over the next decade through government buybacks and voluntary surrender of firearms.
In comparison, the United States has lacked the decisive action needed for gun control, resulting in the proliferation of firearms, and finding itself in a situation where reversing this trend is increasingly challenging.
No Country is Absolutely Safe, Even Outside of the United States
Is studying abroad in other countries safer?
It can only be said that there is no absolute safety, even outside of the United States.
For instance, the United Kingdom, being the second-largest destination for international students, may appear to have fewer incidents of bloody shootings, but danger can manifest itself in other forms. The local “crazy teenagers” in the UK are by no means a group to be taken lightly, ranging from verbal abuse to physical assault, they seem to find creative ways to harm innocent international students.
In 2021, in the city of Sheffield, a popular destination for Chinese students in the UK, there were several concentrated acts of violence targeting Chinese students. Most of the victims were female Chinese international students who were attacked from behind, brutally struck on the back of their heads or the top of their skulls with heavy objects, with the assailants swiftly fleeing the scene after a single blow.
Some fortunate individuals only suffered swelling, while others endured head wounds and profuse bleeding, with some even experiencing momentary loss of consciousness and requiring ambulance transportation to emergency centers.
Similarly, in late September of the same year, a malicious attack targeting Chinese international students occurred at the University of Cambridge. A 25-year-old Chinese international student from Cambridge University was assaulted by a group of approximately 10 British teenagers aged around 16 to 17 while shopping.
Despite the absence of gun-related violence, these incidents serve as a stark reminder that no country can claim absolute safety, and individuals must remain vigilant and cautious regardless of their chosen destination.
“I felt a sharp twist on my ear from behind, and immediately felt the pain. When I turned around, a group of British teenagers was staring at me.”
“They yelled racial slurs at me, and I shouted back in response. I just wanted to escape from the situation. But outnumbered, they quickly started hitting me.”
“I could feel the blows coming from different directions. My nose was broken, and one of the British youths shouted, ‘His nose is broken!’ Then they all ran away.”
In this attack, the international student suffered a broken nose and injuries to the chin.
In addition, recent violent attacks against Chinese international students have also occurred in Italy, a popular destination for art studies. In the early hours of May 13th, four Chinese students studying at a music academy in the southern Italian city of Benevento were assaulted by strangers with batons.
Reportedly, as they were leaving a bar that night, they were confronted by several Italian men who threatened and insulted them, referring to Chinese people as “trash” and demanding they leave Benevento. One of the Chinese female international students, who was recording the scene on her phone, was also physically attacked.
By the time the police arrived at the scene, the attackers had already fled. The four injured students were promptly transported to the San Pio emergency room for treatment and were later discharged. Currently, the relevant authorities are investigating the incident.
This serves as a reminder that studying abroad does not guarantee absolute safety. Even without being in the midst of the “gunfire” that the United States is associated with, international students may still face uncontrollable personal threats due to racial discrimination in other study destinations.
Why Do Chinese Students "Choose to Approach the Tiger Mountain Despite Knowing the Presence of Tigers?"
Despite the high tuition fees and various risks involved, a significant number of Chinese students firmly believe that studying abroad offers a platform to broaden their horizons and enhance their academic prowess. They insist on “approaching the tiger mountain.” What are the reasons behind this determination?
Firstly, countries like the United States and the United Kingdom are renowned destinations for studying abroad, boasting a plethora of prestigious universities and ranking among the global leaders in educational resources. For instance, the United States, as a frontrunner in the field of artificial intelligence, has attracted a significant number of international students due to its strong academic resources in this domain.
World-renowned institutions such as Carnegie Mellon University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Stanford University have made significant advancements in the field of artificial intelligence. Their AI laboratories are at the forefront of global research and development.
Complementing the availability of high-quality academic resources is a mature artificial intelligence market. The United States is home to numerous top-tier technology companies and research institutions, including Google, Microsoft, IBM, and others. These companies have made substantial investments in AI technology and research, making it a dream for many international students to secure employment with them upon graduation.
Furthermore, business studies are also a popular discipline for studying abroad. Both domestic and international business programs encompass a wide range of specialized fields. However, the difference lies in the fact that in domestic programs, theoretical teaching and vocational skill development run parallel but do not intersect.
On the other hand, studying abroad offers students more opportunities to engage in practical projects. Professors encourage students to take initiative and pursue hands-on experiences. Consequently, students not only complete assignments but also engage in real business projects, and some may even embark on entrepreneurial ventures.
In addition to these tangible benefits, studying abroad holds the allure of opening up infinite possibilities. After all, “life is a wilderness, not just a race track.”
One overseas student expressed her sentiment on Weibo, stating that studying abroad not only provided her with an education but also equipped her with the ability to thrive in any environment.
But more importantly, studying abroad allows individuals to critically examine their own culture and identity, rather than simply believing that “the grass is greener on the other side.”
Maintaining a strong sense of Chinese cultural identity while adopting an open and inclusive mindset as global citizens. The integration of these two aspects enables every international student to navigate the world, return to their homeland, and feel a sense of belonging no matter where they are.
Survival Guide for Studying Abroad: Refusing to Risk One's Life
In the hearts of many international students, the desire for opportunities outweighs the fear of danger. However, while living in a foreign land, it is essential to rely on oneself for personal safety. Fortunately, we can utilize technology to the fullest extent possible in order to safeguard ourselves. Here, we recommend several crime rate lookup websites and personal safety apps throughout the United States, allowing us to prevent potential risks before they occur!
There is a website with the same name that allows users to view crime maps of various states in the United States, providing specific safety information about regions and even streets. This website collaborates with law enforcement agencies, enabling users to input their desired time and location for querying, thereby obtaining information about recent crimes and their specific addresses. It is an extremely convenient tool for staying informed about crime incidents.
SpotCrime is the largest crime map website in the United States, gathering data from law enforcement agencies, news reports, and user tips to plot crimes and provide crime maps and alerts to the public.
By entering their city or zip code, users can access information about the crime situation in their community. They can also zoom in on the map to see the crime trends of a specific area over the past 15 days.
2. LifeLine Response
With over 30 campus security systems integrated, this app serves as a lifeline when law enforcement authorities are unable to access geographical location. Lifeline Response swiftly initiates GPS tracking and shares location information with the police or on-campus security personnel. Available for both individual users and businesses, it ensures enhanced safety measures for all.
NeighborhoodScout is an app known for its comprehensive analysis, providing crime statistics and other vital local data. It offers valuable insights into the safety conditions of the cities where universities are located, aiding students in their school selection and travel planning.
Apps like these serve as a new defense against violence in the lives of international students.
Additionally, many universities offer an “Escort Service,” where campus police can accompany students back to their residences. This resource ensures personal safety, especially during late-night library sessions or when potential dangers arise.
The aforementioned websites and applications help us prevent potential risks. However, in the face of actual danger, it is crucial to remain calm, take self-protective measures based on the situation, and immediately report the incident to the authorities or seek assistance from the embassy or consulate, providing accurate information about your location and the circumstances.
To obtain contact information for foreign embassies, you can visit the official website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China and access the “Embassies and Consulates” section.
Finally, we sincerely wish all international students a smooth and successful educational journey!