My European Host Family Doesn't Understand American Gun Violence
Politics and Activism

My Host Family Can't Comprehend America's Gun Violence, It's An Exceptionally American Phenomenon

It took me moving to a different Western nation to truly see American exceptionalism at its finest.

218

Perspectively speaking, the strangest yet most mundane subject came up when I was sitting at dinner, having a "sobremesa" with my host parents: guns. Those curious items are absolutely abnormal to my senora and completely comfortable to me.

The nightly news sensationally reported on the Spanish black market in which one can *gasp* purchase a gun for 4,000 euros. I snuck glances at my host parents' appalled reactions to the story and began inquiring about the state of criminal activity involving firearms in Barcelona.

From here, I learned that the regulation of guns in Spain is categorized as restrictive, with the right to private gun ownership not guaranteed by law. Jaw on the floor, I took in this information as best as a Texan can. Beside myself, I could not help from further questioning, "But what about private citizens? Concealed carrying laws? Universal background checks? Manufacturing and record-keeping?!?"

If that was not aggressively American enough, I asked them about school-shootings, which is a challenging topic to explain in English and nearly impossible to comprehend in Spanish.

My European parents had their eyebrows stuck in a furrow, not knowing what I was rambling on about. Dumbfounded why I was so obsessed with what they viewed as rare, handheld murder machines, my host family asked if I had ever seen a gun in real life. This was a pure question, stemming from a mind-cloud that has not been jaded by school-shootings, massacres in movie theaters, or hate crimes in religious institutions.

For me, this decidedly cruel situation has been my foundation. I came-of-age in the age of terrorism.

I don't think twice about the fact that there have been more than 2,000 mass shootings since Sandy Hook, a disturbingly desensitized political buzzphrase in which a gunman killed 20 elementary-aged kids, six adults, and himself. I'm not even a little bit surprised by the statistic that, on average, there has been one mass shooting for each day thus far in 2019. I can yawn at the ordinariness of on-duty police officers (aka, "the good guys with guns") being killed at a noticeably higher rate in U.S. states with more private gun ownership.

All of this data probably shouldn't be so commonplace, but it's just a part of my gunned-down generational experience. This existence makes sense, given that U.S. Americans make up 4.27 percent of the world's population, yet we own nearly half of all the world's privately held firearms.

Acclaimed anthropologist Edward T. Hall pointed out, "a culture hides itself most effectively from its own participants." Once I entered a new country's culture, I realized that what I considered the norm (i.e. the slaughter of peers and the prevalence of guns) is inconceivable to those with a different foundation.

In the developed world, these levels of gun violence are a uniquely American problem. It is funny how (not a comedic "funny" but a "this milk tastes 'funny'" use of the word), it took me moving to a different Western nation to see American exceptionalism at its finest, (kidding, sorry).

The effects of gun violence extend far beyond those who suffer casualties and their immediate families. Gun violence shapes the lives of the millions of U.S. Americans who witness the news because we all live in fear of the next shooting. To give an example, my close friend, currently studying education to teach children, has a terror of returning to the school setting ingrained in the back her head — what a telling anecdote.

Originally, I perceived it as odd that the Spanish vernacular does not even have a term for "mass shooting," honestly, but why do we?

Report this Content
Lifestyle

These 11 Face Masks On Etsy Support Small Businesses While Fighting The Spread Of Coronavirus

We're staying safe as states start lifting lockdown guidelines.

I, like most people who have had the luxury of being able to stay at home during this time, haven't spent much time outdoors at all. But when I do brave the great outdoors for a walk or to get to the grocery store, you won't find me without a mask.

My family and I were lucky enough to have family friends who were sewing some and had extras to give to us, but most of my friends and loved ones outside my immediate family have had to order some (or make a makeshift one out of scarves or bandanas).

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

13 Reasons We're Using Quarantine As The Ultimate Excuse For Online Shopping This Month

The one thing we haven't distanced from is our bank account.

Throughout quarantine, I've been FaceTiming most of my friends in a full turtleneck or the go-to cozy sweater I keep wrapped around the chair in my room. Either way, I always have tea in my hands to keep myself warm — till this past week.

For most of the country who hasn't had the luck of quarantining in 90-degree weather on their family's lake house or with a backyard pool, things began to change this month. Our favorite shows came out with summer seasons, the sun came out, and we started spending more time outside.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Sat Down (Virtually) With Morgan Wooten To Talk About Coronavirus's Impact On The Wellness Industry

Just because coronavirus has greatly impacted the wellness industry doesn't mean wellness stops.

Morgan Wooten

If you're anything like me, your weekly fitness classes are a huge part of your routine. They keep me fit, healthy, and sane. Honestly, these classes help my mental health stay in tip-top shape just as much as they help my physical health.

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, gyms and fitness studios are facing temporary closure. Yes, this means my personal routine is thrown a curveball, but this also means the wellness industry is one of many that is looking at unemployment and hardship. Do I miss my Monday spin class? Of course. But do the wellness professionals whose worlds were flipped upside down have a lot more to overcome than a slight change of routine? Absolutely. Thankfully, if anyone can prove the ultimate flexibility, it's the wellness industry.

Keep Reading... Show less
HBO Max

If you are a normal person who spends most of their time streaming TV shows, you'll know that "Friends" was taken off Netflix early in 2020. Given that a global pandemic followed shortly after, many diehard fans of the show stuck in quarantine have been experiencing significant Central Perk withdrawal.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

How To Interview A Class Of 2020 Graduate

What they've been through is truly unprecedented.

Odyssey

No matter how you want to spin it, the Class of 2020 will be the first class graduating amidst a global pandemic.

Keep Reading... Show less
Netflix

By now, it is safe to declare "Outer Banks" on Netflix as THE TV Show of quarantine.

"Tiger King" got out to an early lead, but since, the Pogues and the Kooks have owned pop culture conversations while everyone has been couped up this spring amidst a global pandemic. And if you are one of the very few people out there in the world that has not heard about "Outer Banks" and or haven't binged it yet, well...

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Spoke To A California ER Doctor About COVID-19, And Y'all, Our Healthcare Workers Know What's Up

In light of what's going on in the world, it's time to get some front-line perspective.

It seems like the only thing I do these days is scroll through social media in a desperate attempt to gain information. My phone has called me out on my screen time more than once, and I just continue to ignore it. You're probably in the same boat — stuck at home, scrolling deeper and deeper into a hole of conspiracy theories and possible "back to normalcy" dates, hungry for information.

While we know that the news is not our mental health's friend these days, getting reliable information is helpful and necessary.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments