On Monday, August 27th, a breaking story flooded news channels and websites around the country. A shooting occurred at a video game tournament in the back of a Jacksonville pizza restaurant. The event rehashed an omnipresent debate, though one that flares to its peak particularly after tragedies such as these: gun control. Supporters on either side often find themselves at a standstill with their more passionate opponents, yet it stops neither from speaking freely about their opinion on the matter; and as always, it’s a conversation in which students and young people are eagerly participating
Washington Square News: On the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting,
April 20 of 2018, “more than 5,000 students from more than 20 high schools and universities around New York and New Jersey [participated] in a national walkout in protest of gun violence. NYU student and deputy news editor of a local, student paper, Kristina Hayhurst, writes of the conversations and anticipations swelling amongst the protestors.
- The National School Walkout took place at noon in Washington Square Park. “In attendance [were] survivors from past shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, Pulse Nightclub, Columbine and Sandy Hook Elementary School.”
- One of the organizers of the walkout, high schooler Arielle Geisnar, explains the importance of having university students joining them on the frontier. “‘Even though this is organized by high school students, we can’t forget that we’re built from the same ground,’ Geisnar said in an interview with WSN. ‘At the end of the day, we’re both afraid in our schools. To have college kids supporting us is incredibly important.’”
- During the march, Andrew Meyers, an organizer from Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn, attended as a speaker, along with other activists and politicians. “‘Attendees who come to the protest should expect to be inspired by the all the speeches of the day to either go and vote in November or take action on the issue of gun control anyway that they can,’ Meyers said in an email to WSN. ‘This event is as much a protest as it is a chance for people to hopefully come away with something new.’"
FSU News: In May of 2018, Kent State graduate Kaitlin Bennett ignited a national, online debate. Posing with her AR-10 rifle and a cap that read “come and take it,” piloting Benned toward internet fame and second amendment advocacy. she quickly Still, “Bennett’s viral photo was neither the beginning or end of her gun advocacy,” writes FSU News editor Jordan Anderson, thus inspiring him to sit down with Bennett one-on-one and get the answers to some very frequently asked questions.
- Anderson first sets the scene, giving readers a background on Bennet’s #trending photo: “two months after her controversial post made national headlines, Bennett traveled to Florida’s capital city… to take aim at the widely known gun control movement, March for Our Lives, at a Tallahassee counter-protest.”
- Anderson proceeded to ask the unlikely gun advocate a wealth of questions, getting to the heart of the beliefs that motivated her actions. When asked what she might say to March for Our Lives protesters, Bennet responds “to support something that is so important and precious as the Second Amendment and gun rights and strip that away from people is a big deal. I don’t think they understand that... I would ask them to research a little more, go out to the range and shoot, understand and talk to people whose lives have been saved by firearms.”
- Anderson also tackles Bennet with a quite complex question, asking of her to explain how we should deal with the issue. Not so satisfyingly, she replies “Repeal all gun laws. We can prevent gun violence if we stop prohibiting non-violent people from getting guns. Gun control only hurts law abiding citizens.”
- So how about background checks? Anderson follows up his violence question with another crux of the gun-rights issue. Bennet provides, again, a lukewarm response: “I don’t think there should be background checks from the government. I actually work in a gun store, and I can say that the background check system is just, I believe, a load of crap anyways.”
- Anderson closes the interview by asking Bennet if she would ever be able to sit down with gun-control advocates and reach a consensus on the issue. “I think that we would be able to agree that we want to stop violence,” Bennett responds, going onto explain “I don’t know if we would agree on the way to do that. I could understand where they’re coming from very easily. However, I just won’t ever agree with it.”
The Daily Californian: Simultaneously, in California, May 2018, Berkeley students react to a “proposed California gun law that aims to ease the process of confiscating guns,” passing the senate before heading to the Assembly. Though students take a stance quite opposite of Kaitlin Bennet’s, some echo concerns of the government over exerting their power.
- Californian staff-writer, Jackson Guilfile, explains in detail the proposal, noting the authorship of Sen. Nancy Skinner and that, in effect, the bill “strengthens an existing gun law she also authored by allowing police to confiscate firearm components such as ammunition and magazines from dangerous individuals with credible evidence of a threat.
- Guilfile goes on, revealing specifically about the bill that it “eliminates filing fees for gun violence restraining orders, or GVROs, and it includes firearm components as things that can be confiscated in addition to guns themselves.” In a press release, Skinner expresses how this law would be a win for California, particularly democrats. “Having access to a Gun Violence Restraining Order empowers a family member to act. GVROs can save lives,” she says.
- Berkeley students have come together to “[speak] out in support of increased gun control.” Guilfile shows by example, writing of “BUSD board Vice President Judy Appel” who “supports the new bill and she is hopeful it will soothe student fears of a school shooting.”
- This concern, of course, extends below college students, with an increase in high school students taking their stand against gun-violents. Ruby Spies, a social advocate and high school senior, “gave a speech supporting the Parkland students and calling for an end to school shootings. Regarding the bill, Spies said it was 'a step towards better gun control' but that she doesn’t 'think it’s enough.'”
- Some, on the other hand, thought the bill to be almost too much. The Executive Director of Fun Owners of California Group, “while he supported “due process” in requiring a hearing within 21 days of firearm confiscation, said he is less pleased with expanding the scope of who can report gun owners as dangerous, stating that it could be used to harass gun owners”
The Bottom Line:
Gun-control continues as a pressing and unending debate in American political culture. Viewpoints range from conservative, to moderate, to liberal, with those and all the opinions in between contributes even further complexity to the issue. With interviewee Kaitlin Bennet, I may agree on one point: “I think that we would be able to agree that we want to stop violence… I don’t know if we would agree on the way to do that.”