Karina Barriga Albring

News Editor

charlie nye / Associated press About 75 adults and children turned out for a gun control rally in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park at 17th and Broadway Streets in Indianapolis, Ind. on Saturday, April 13, 2013.


History and tradition blend together and heat up the discussion on gun issues at Keene State College.

In a random survey conducted at KSC, students brought up historical facts to prove that guns have been a crucial part of America since the beginning of time and stated access to guns should be controlled.

A majority of the surveyed students indicated that they think owning a firearm is an American tradition. Also, most of them indicated that they don’t feel identified by this particular practice and supported background checks.

“Owning firearms is a tradition because it has been a big part of our culture, but I think that now they [guns] have gotten out of hand,” student Brendan Snyder said.

“That [owning firearms] is what society has supported for centuries. Back in time, when America gained independence, people really needed guns for hunting and for protection, they used guns every day and throughout time, arms have remained present,” former KSC student Elhadje Bah said.

“Even though it is a tradition, I don’t believe it is something that we are expected to continue throughout time,” senior Chris Ruble stated.

“There are other ways to be American; you don’t need a gun,” freshman Walter Parnes said.

Even though the argument on gun control brought a variety of reactions to the table, a randomly selected population of 20 KSC students unanimously agreed that the government should increase coordinated background checks for individuals who intend to purchase firearms.

In Washington D.C, even Republican senators have stated they will support a proposal to increase background checks. Illinois Senator Mark Kirk and Pennsylvania Senator Patrick Toomey, together with Democrat Senators Joe Manchin III from Virginia and Senator Charles E. Schumer from New York, presented a plan that would expand background checks, make gun trafficking a federal crime for the first time and bolster federal funding for school security plans, according to the The Washington Post.

An article published on April 10 in The Washington Post stated, “The proposed agreement would be more stringent than current law, which requires checks only when purchases are made through a licensed dealer, but less than originally sought by President Obama and congressional Democrats.”

However, some gun rights advocates in Washington have opposed any bill that would increase background checks.

According to the Washington Post, the National Rifle Association officials opposed the legislative proposal, saying it would do no good in fighting criminal use of guns and would expand government powers.

For KSC student Meghan Bouffard, access to guns is the biggest cause for gun violence. “It is so easy to get a gun. Also there is not enough education about the issue,” Bouffard stated.

She continued, “I don’t believe in guns; so many tragedies have happened in the recent years because of gun violence that I don’t understand why some groups keep defending guns.”

For Molly McCarthy, another KSC student, “Guns in the hands of the wrong people” are the biggest cause of gun violence. McCarthy said, “It wouldn’t be fair to ban guns from people that are reasonable and responsible.”

Similarly, freshman Scott Steere said, “If sane people want to have guns, they should. Insane people shouldn’t have guns.”

Yet freshman Alison Flinn said she worries about whether people who appear to be responsible can be potentially dangerous when armed.

“It is scary [to know that people can be armed] because you never know when someone is disturbed. They can look perfectly normal but have any type of mental problem,” Flinn said.

Like Flinn, 40 percent of the students identified that mental health issues as a cause of gun violence. All the surveyed students agreed that authorities should require better coordination of mental health care.

Regarding the Second Amendment of the Constitution, the survey indicated that 50 percent of the students said the ban of any type of weapons would go against the right to bear arms.

“It [the right to bear arms] is part of our freedom. It is a right everyone should have,” Steere said.

Some other students indicated that the definition of “right” needs to be limited. “You can implement some regulations while maintaining the Second Amendment,” Ruble said.

The Washington Post stated on April 12 that, “A background check system is not in itself a restriction of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. It is only a means to ensure that sellers of firearms do not transfer handguns to a prohibited class of owners. Indeed, the background check system would appear to be a vital mechanism to ensure that firearms sellers do not violate the terms of the national Gun Control Act. These restrictions have existed in federal law for 45 years and have not been constitutionally invalidated by the courts.”

“There are some weapons that are not necessary for household ownership and should be regulated,” Snyder said.

Parnes indicated the Second Amendment shouldn’t prevent regulations “because when that was written, we only had pistols that took 30 seconds to reload. Things have changed now.”

Some students commented on firearm ownership for protection.

Parnes indicated he believes some guns are “acceptable” for protection. “But the most you need to defend yourself is a pistol. You shouldn’t own anything more powerful than that,” Parnes said.

“People should have a way to protect their family. If someone breaks into your house, the only person that can protect you is yourself; a policeman is not going to be there to defend you,” Steere said.

For other students, protection is not an issue related to gun ownership. “I don’t think it is correct to need a gun in order to feel safe,” junior Athena Arrindell stated.

While in Washington, D.C. the debate on gun issues gains a stronger political tone each day, students in Keene have simpler reasons for worrying about firearms.

“Being in a college campus, I feel very concerned. It has became so common to hear about shooting in schools. It is scary,” McCarthy said.

Ruble referred to gun issues as a subject that “everyone is concerned about” and encouraged government officials to act on it diligently.

“Because of the increase we have seen in gun violence lately, it is definitely an issue that need to be taken care of as soon as possible. Background checks seem to be vital. We cannot afford to have any more tragedies,” Ruble concluded.


Karina Barriga Albring can be contacted at kbarriga@keene-equinox.com 

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