Within the month of October, there were two prominent and deadly cases involving gun violence nationally.
The first was a school shooting in Arlington, Texas on Oct. 6. An 18-year-old student, Timothy George Simpkins, shot four individuals on school grounds, fled the scene and was later apprehended by authorities.
Upon being taken into custody, he was charged with multiple counts of aggravated assault with a gun, each a second degree felony according to the Texas Penal Code 22.02.
The second was the accidental shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and director Joel Souza while on set, filming the upcoming movie, “Rust.” Hutchins passed away due to her injuries.
This incident was the result of the mishandling of a firearm by multiple individuals, notably actor Alec Baldwin who was handling the gun when it was fired.
Both of these cases have increased debate on whether or not the U.S. has a gun violence problem. These debates continue between members of the Albion College Democrats and the Albion College Republicans in regards to topics like gun rights, gun control, gun safety, firearm training and gun violence prevention.
Representatives from both organizations agree that gun violence is morally wrong, and it can be reduced.
Albion College Democrat Mauricio Garcia, Dallas junior, recognizes that as long as the U.S. Constitution allows the right to bear arms, there will always be firearms in the states.
Albion College Republican Daniel Saunders, Port Huron sophomore, believes even though we do have a constitutional right to bear arms, there are people who shouldn’t have access to a deadly weapon, whether it be for the safety of themselves or the safety of others.
Both organizations agree that proper firearm training needs a massive increase.
“Basic firearm safety teaches us to treat every gun as a loaded gun,” said Saunders. “It’s an essential point of handling a firearm properly. People being careless about the responsibility they hold as a gun owner leads to some of the issues we currently see.”
Garcia talked more about firearm training for public safety officers.
“When it comes to police, they need more training than they’re currently receiving, and qualified immunity needs to end,” said Garcia.
The idea that personal responsibility should be assigned to private individuals and officers was heavily stressed by both groups’ representatives. This is a reason Saunders doesn’t see gun free zones as a way of helping solve the issue of gun violence.
“People need to have to think twice before pulling a weapon,” said Saunders.
Gun control is another heavily debated concept surrounding this topic. Both groups’ representatives agreed that current legislation isn’t actually solving the issue.
“As a college democrat, my take is that people shouldn’t have as much access to these weapons,” said Garcia.
The two organizations agree that the general idea of less access means less guns in the hands of people who want to do harm. At the same time, Saunders and his organization believe too much gun control actually is counterintuitive to the problem it’s trying to solve.
“A lot of actions taken to prevent gun violence have actually been hurting people’s ability to protect themselves,” said Saunders.
Gun use ranges from region to region, state to state, and city to city. Different places will have different results, so legislation that helps in one area may allow more harm in another and vice versa.
“Guns are meant for protection, hunting and sport. Violence is a massive misuse of that tool,” said Saunders.
It is understanding this that Saunders believes will lead to guns being used in a more appropriate manner. This is in alignment with Garcia’s hopes for more discussion about cause and effects for different uses of firearms.
“It’s like a transformational approach to gun control that I’m optimistic about,” said Garcia.
In the end, both Garcia and Saunders see gun violence as the result of bigger problems.
“Gun violence is not the key point, it is the result of a greater issue,” said Garcia.
Saunders expanded the idea of guns as the medium, not the cause of violence.
“A person that wants to do harm will do harm in any way they can find regardless of the weapon they use,” said Saunders.
A final belief of the groups’ representatives is that providing more access to mental health services are integral to combating the issue of gun violence, solving more problems at the root before actions are taken rather than after.
“Mental health has been scapegoated from these issues,” said Garcia.