Gun debate sparks conversations on campus


Shane Flanigan

Phil Ouellette, 54, of Westerville speaks with an Ohio State Highway Patrol officer on the steps of the Ohio Statehouse in downtown Columbus during the Guns Across America rally Saturday, Jan.19. Ouellette, a gun owner himself, came out to support his 2nd amendment rights. “Until something bad happens to you or someone you know, it’s hard to take [gun rights] that seriously,” he said. Photo by Shane Flanigan.

Matt Lofgren

In light of the recent national tragedies in Aurora, Col., and at Sandy Hook Elementary, many students have begun to question their safety on campus.

Kent State’s current policy on conceal and carry allows for licensed carriers to leave a firearm locked in the trunk of their car or dropped off at the university police station.

Junior political science major Stephen Dawson works as the media relations director for the College Republicans, and said he thinks the policy should be looser.

“The reason why is, what does the gun do you any good?” Dawson said. “If there’s a mass shooting on campus, what am I supposed to do? Run to the police station or locked box to get my gun? No. You should be allowed to have it on you.”

Assistant political science professor Erik Heidemann said he thinks the conceal and carry policy should be stricter.

“What would prevent someone who’s pissed off at a professor from getting a bad grade or something from taking it too far, going out to their trunk and saying ‘well, I’m going to make him or her pay,'” Heidemann said. “If you could carry in classrooms then you can just say ‘well screw you’ and bang. Like the Wild West, which sadly, I think we’re becoming.”

The government has begun to look at changing gun laws in response to the recent shootings.

President Barack Obama made 23 different suggestions from a panel led by Vice President Joe Biden about gun control public, as well as signed three executive orders to be made into law Jan. 16.

The president’s executive orders, which do not need the approval of Congress, were highlighted by a new system to trace firearms upon sale, the allowance of the Centers for Disease Control to research gun violence and a background check for all firearms sales.

Currently, background checks are done only for commercial sales, which does not include sales made at gun shows.

“President Obama is a strong leader, and I believe that he doesn’t believe we should live in a country where the NRA [National Rifle Association] could write our laws,” said Jake Green, president of the College Democrats. “He understands these are the couple dozen things that need to happen for us to live in a safer country.”

Taking another look at the second amendment is a move Heidemann said needed to be taken.

“I just can’t believe that the same founding fathers that limited the access of the common man to his government, also mean for everyone to walk around with machine guns,” Heidemann said. “The text of the second amendment says ‘a well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.’ From the NRA’s perspective, they always eliminate that important qualifier at the beginning.”

Heidemann also pointed out the NRA is a powerful interest group that is made up of extremely passionate members who are extremely politically active.

Since the president has acted, many people have responded by buying more guns.

According to an article, there were 900,000 more background checks in December 2012 than in December 2011. However, not all of these checks resulted in gun sales.

“People are worried that the government is all of the sudden going to try and take their guns, so they go out to get as many as they can,” Dawson said. “They see these school shootings and think, ‘You know, I want a gun, I want my older kids to have a gun, I want my nephews and nieces, that are obviously of age, to have guns.’”

Dawson said he feels that politicians are working out of angst right after a tragedy to satisfy people in the short term.

“I’m a big believer in not passing any laws after a national tragedy,” Dawson said. “People tend to be reactionary, and they tend to want to fix a problem that might not necessarily be there.”

Contact Matt Lofgren at [email protected].