Eric Zavinski – Editor in Chief
59 dead and 546 injured in the Las Vegas shooting. 26 dead and at least 20 more injured in the Sutherland Springs church shooting.
Those are only the two most prominent examples of mass gun violence occurring within this fall semester. To answer the epidemic, the Clarion Debate team decided to host a panel discussion and question and answer session for the local community to attend.
Titled “Resolved: The United States Needs to Have a Serious Discussion About Gun Control,” the panel featured advisor Jim Lyle and four Clarion debaters – Abigail Shipley, Quentin Claypool, Thomas Peyton and Ethan Dyer – speaking from different angles on the sensitive issue.
Carter Auditorium of Still Hall Nov. 16 set the stage for various questions from the dozens in attendance. Students and community members were interested in learning more about the Dickey Amendment, which, implemented in 1996, cautioned the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from advocating for gun control.
Sophomore debater Claypool raised the issue of the possibly restrictive amendment preventing the CDC from doing further research on the role gun violence plays in the United States.
“It’s impossible to have constructive and honest debate about gun control and gun violence when we simply don’t know enough about the issue,” said Claypool.
Claypool mentioned that while the Dickey Amendment did not ban the CDC from doing research on gun violence, he revealed to the audience that the amendment assures that no CDC research can be perceived as advocating for an increase in regulation on firearms.
Dyer then brought up that the Second Amendment, giving Americans the right to bear arms in the first place, was initially implemented in order to provide a last line of defense against a totalitarian government.
The point was made that if the current United States government were to turn on its citizens, then the average populace would have no chance to fight back like the nation’s founders did in the 18th Century because, according to Dyer, “…for example, tanks, battleships and bombing planes are inherently tyrannical weapons while rifles, muskets and longbows and hand grenades are inherently democratic weapons.”
Shipley brought another modern perspective to the table; as an aspiring educator, she commented that she would not feel secure if she and her colleagues were armed with guns to protect her students.
“Instead of taking away guns and limiting where they can be used at, I think we just need to make it so that people don’t feel the need to pick up the weapon in the first place,” said Shipley.
“The key elements that I believe we should focus our efforts on in school settings are training our teachers to identify potentially violent students, having counselor and crisis intervention specialists on hand, and teaching kids to use words and not weapons and practicing what to do in an active shooter situation.”
Shipley went on to mention that while she had undergone various severe weather drills in primary school, she had never once practiced what to do if the school was being terrorized by a shooter.
Lastly, freshman debater Thomas Peyton urged attendees to think outside partisan lines regarding the issue of gun violence.
“The U.S. needs to challenge this issue on a serious level,” he said.
Peyton mentioned that gun laws do not always work. A soon-to-be active shooter made his bail for another crime prior, and he then used unregistered weapons to kill his wife and other civilians. Peyton wondered if attacking the issue of poor mental health could fix future cases.
“Gun control is a pretty sophisticated and complex issue,” said Lyle. “There is no easy fix. Banning all guns doesn’t fix the problem; leaving all the guns out there doesn’t fix the problem.”
Clarion students and residents left Carter Auditorium after more than one hour of open discussion with plenty to think about regarding the country’s future possibilities for gun violence and control.