A World Without Gun Violence

By Youfeng (Gloria) Pan, Staff Writer

Dear Granddaughter,

I am scared to imagine the world you are going to live in 30 to 50 years from now.

On November 5, 2017, a mass shooting happened at a small church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, killing over 25 people and an unborn child.  At least 20 people were injured. The shooter was just 26 years old.

On October 1, 2017, a 64-year-old gunman opened fire on the country music festival in Las Vegas. At least 58 people were killed and almost 500 were injured.

0n June 12, 2016, a 29-year-old former security guard opened fire and killed 49 people in an Orlando gay nightclub. More than 50 people were injured.

On October 1, 2015, 9 people was killed at Umpqua Community College shooting in Oregon. At least 9 were injured. The gunman was again only 26 years old.

In December 2015, two shooters killed 14 people and injured 21 at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California.

And so many more…

Courtesy of Nitu

Ironically, when gunpowder was invented, it was for longevity and joy. It was invented by Taoist alchemy in the attempt of pursuing immortality, first recorded in Tang Dynasty. Soon, the explosive power was used as fireworks for celebration and happiness. In the Song Dynasty, fireworks became a popular phenomenon, written about in many famous poems.

Your great-grandmother, my mom, is worried every time she sees a report of a gunshot, especially when foreign students are involved. I’m afraid I will have to worry more when you grow up, as shootings become more and more frequent and these incidents are normalized.

The scary signal is that gun sales went up after each massacre. I had conversations with some Americans and tried to understand the logic. The response I got was that people are so unpredictable, which scares people into buying more guns to protect themselves and to take control of their own safety. But imagine this: in a busy mall, everyone holds a gun while shopping – would you be more or less anxious if you had to figure out which gun holder was threatening? What if you misinterpreted someone’s gesture or facial impression and shot an innocent man? What if you accidentally shot your gun?

As a foreigner on this soil, I can’t say that I understand the belief in gun rights or the need for freedom in self-defense. I don’t share the same history that Americans suffered. But when I stood in front of the Lincoln memorial, my heart was pounding to the words “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan – to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.”

I have never seen a serious violent act for myself. Even though I feel for people suffering from the tragedies in history and in the world, I don’t have a perfect solution to end it. Some say guns are not the problem if a strict background check can be implemented before purchase. However, as everyone knows, this is such a profitable business—how can we expect a gun dealer to take this responsibility, instead of law reinforcement and government bodies? I don’t think people should be put in the position where they have to constantly fight between their conscience and their interests. they might lose in such a difficult internal battle… we can’t afford the defeat.

The map is based on data collated by the Mass Shooting Tracker website. Courtesy of The Boston Globe

I am afraid that you will live in a world where you believe killing is an easy way out when things don’t go to your favor. When I grew up, my Mom always talked about the old Chinese saying, “Patience is a knife on the heart”—literally based on the Chinese character for patience (忍– 刃 means a knife; 心means a heart). She said that a lot because many things didn’t go as planned. Born in the 1950s, your great-grandmother has witnessed numerous dramatic changes, negative and positive ones.  She experienced material scarcity and the psychological anxiety of barely keeping up with the new era, and she learned to deal with it. Suicide is a tragedy, and so too is killing another person. We human beings have the capacity to go with the flow or figure out solutions. Misfortune is sometimes a blessing in disguise.

I am afraid that you will live in a world where you solve conflicts by violently eliminating uncomfortable voices and irritating people. The best trait I have learned from Americans is the kindness and courage to talk through a conflict. I used to be very passive by withholding my disagreement, which I thought was a kind gesture to maintain harmony. However, my American friends have demonstrated that it takes more kindness and greater courage to respect people of difference with open dialogues, to interpret things from other perspectives, and to contribute to a mutually beneficial solution. I don’t want you to be withheld and oppressed, and I don’t want you to seek violence as the solution.

I hope you will live in a world where your basic human needs and safety are satisfied. I used to walk on the street even at midnight and still feel safe in my homeland. The lights are still on; shops are open; and streets are busy and fun to walk around. I hope your ability to go anywhere you want will not become a dream, but a fact.

I hope you will live in a world where you love others and you are loved. This sounds cliché, but it’s a genuine hope that you have a big heart for people that are different from you—people of different colors, beliefs and cultures. If you love them and are open to them, they will love you in return.

May you live in a world without violence!

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