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An Immigrant’s Perspective on the United States & Guns

Before coming to the United States as an immigrant in 2017, I was never really exposed to gun violence or mass shootings. Guns were often just something authorities had, dangerous weapons of destruction, only to be held by those trained to do so. I was lucky enough to grow up during a time when my country was not at war and there was violence, but I never saw or heard a gunshot. That is until I moved here. 

woman in front of a computer
Photo by RF._.studio from Pexels


I didn’t understand the fascination with guns, I ruled it off as unreasonable. But through research, I was able to see the relevance and importance of the relationship between guns and the United States. Historically, it seems like it was part of the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness. It is embedded in the Constitution, considered a right, and from what I know, rights are one of the most important things in society. I saw that these weapons of mass destruction were more than just weapons in this foreign land, they are almost an extension of its existence. 

Washington Capitol
Photo by ElevenPhotographs from Unsplash

My first drill was in class, we were told to sit in a quiet corner and be silent; It was the most awkward 10 minutes I had experienced. I wondered, if this was a real fire drill, why wouldn’t we just run out? Why would we sit here quietly waiting for the shooter to come in? It didn’t make sense. I also wondered, why would someone shoot a school? A question I’ve still been unable to answer. These drills were more routine than fire drills and sometimes I saw them as an opportunity to skip some parts of a class I wasn’t interested in. However, that was until a real drill happened, it wasn’t in the school but nearby, we were all cramped up, terrified, looking around, and texting our loved ones. I couldn’t fathom the idea of it being my last day, trapped between classmates. I didn’t realize this at the time, but this was the reality for an American child, growing up with the fear of guns, something meant to protect from being used to cause death. 

aisle between bookshelves in library
Priscilla Du Preez/Unsplash

As an immigrant, I still struggle to understand the relationship between guns and the United States, it is complex and messy like many things in the world. I’ve talked to people who believe guns are a part of the American dream and others who beg to disagree. But one thing I’ve seen firsthand is the way this right can be used for destruction, the fear in my classmate’s eyes, and the desensitization towards guns in the United States.  

Ornella Musinguzi

CU Boulder '24

Ornella is a freshman and a writer for hercampus CU Boulder. She is majoring in Political Science, with a minor in leadership studies and philosophy. She likes to write about current events and news.
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