February 12, 2013
A national debate centered on gun control spilled over Monday to the campus of Georgia Southern University, where student leaders hosted a forum to discuss the issue.
About 40 people were on hand for a “Guns in America” debate between the Georgia Southern Young Democrats and College Republicans, held in the university’s Russell Union Theatre.
The hour long program reflected the ideological divide common among leaders in Washington, and people across the country, regarding tighter weapons regulations.
“We recognize that there is a need to have weapons outside of the house for hunting or shooting sports, but at the same time, we believe it is constitutional to regulate what kind of weapons can be carried,” said Trent Gay, arguing for his Democratic group.
Virginia Stieghan, a College Republicans representative, said she thinks the correct legislation is already in place.
“The reason we’re seeing so much attention for this is because of the sad and devastating results of shootings lately,” she said. “And although those are heartbreaking, and I’m very disappointed that guns were a factor, I think that keeping (America’s view on gun control) where the founders intended, with a very broad definition, is important.”
In answering questions submitted by other students, the two sides quarreled over interpretations of the Second Amendment of the Constitution, results of previous case law, and what, if any, regulations would be effective in limiting gun violence.
“I think we should continue to regulate where people can carry weapons — you should not be able to carry them wherever you’d like to,” said Gay, who also liked the idea of placing restrictions on high-capacity magazines, which can allow as many as 100 bullets to be fired in short succession.
The College Republicans argued that there is no reason to implement additional laws, because “criminals would not follow them.” They agreed a consolidated effort should be made to strengthen background checks — addressing individuals who are mentally ill — but supported the controversial gun-show loophole and said talk of more regulation is much ado about nothing.
“If someone has malicious intent, they are going to inflict harm. If you’re going to break the law, you’re going to break the law,” said Blair Mutimer, speaking for the College Republicans. “New regulations are the wrong way to go about (stopping the crimes).”
Panel members took turns responding to questions posed by the audience and said they will entertain the idea of a second debate/discussion in the near future.