This week’s Pizza & Politics’ discussion focussed on gun laws–a very polarizing and personal issue for most.
In light of recent events, the first question asked students to compare the United States gun laws and regulations to other countries around the world. One student noted that Australia implemented extremely strict gun control following a mass shooting in the mid 1990s and questioned why the same hadn’t been done in the US. Another student countered that unlike most countries, including Australia, the right to bear arms is a Constitutional right in the United States.
The role firearms have played in this country’s history was also mentioned. One student stated that although he agrees with gun regulations he understands the “gun culture” that is prevalent throughout the country.
The moderators then asked whether or not students thought a 1994 law that resulted in a roughly 10 year ban on assault type and semi-automatic weapons (Congress failed to renew the legislation in 2004) should be revisited and potentially reinstated. One student passionately expressed that semi-automatic weapons, such as the AR-15 and AK-47 type weapons, etc. are popular personal defense and sporting/hunting rifles and that the vast majority are used exclusively for those purposes. Another student disagreed with those reasoning saying that semi-automatic weapons are not necessary for hunting and placing regulations on semi-automatic weapons and slowing down re-load times would limit the number of rounds being fired and could potentially save lives in a mass shooter situation.
The conversation then shifted to the the topic of firearm suppressors/silencers. The question was asked in light of The Hearing Protection Act of 2017 (H.R.367), which aims to eliminate the $200 tax on suppressors and silencers, among other things. Several students felt strongly that the current tax and regulation of suppressors is nominally effective and doesn’t lessen or deter gun violence.
The moderators then brought the discussion to the university level, asking students how they felt about SUU’s open and concealed carry laws. Several students expressed that they took no issue in SUU’s policies saying that they liked knowing that if an active shooter situation did occur fast action could be taken to protect innocent people. Others disagreed saying that when they see individuals open carrying on campus they feel uneasy. Many felt that firearms were not necessary at an institution whose main purpose was education.
Regardless of the question, the discussion always returned to the point of intent. Many students felt that individuals that wished to inflict harm to themselves or others would find a way to do so and that regulations on firearms are hurting responsible gun owners and citizens, not deterring criminal gun activity. Other students felt that policies and regulations must in implemented to slow down and hopefully eliminate the acquisition of firearms by dangerous individuals and those that wish to do harm.
To participate in the discussion, attend Pizza & Politics every Wednesday at 12 p.m. in the Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service located in the Sharwan Smith Student Center.
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