Students Making a Difference for Gun Safety

Across the country, young people are demanding that the government do more to establish gun safety. We are not safe in a land where people not old enough to buy a beer can buy an assault rifle, and where basic background checks are undermined by a crazy quilt of loopholes. We are not safe in a land where the government’s response to violence is to call for more people to be armed.

I will never forget when Wesleyan student Johanna Justin-Jinich was murdered by a man plagued by deep mental illness who had access to a deadly weapon. Our grief, terror and horror during those days ten years ago made an indelible mark on me and so many of us connected to this campus.

We will never forget, but can we actually turn our memories of gun violence into political engagement to promote robust gun safety? The students from Parkland, the families of the children killed at Sandy Hook, and so many others around the country show us that we can: we can mobilize our political energies to demand sensible gun safety laws. This starts by ensuring that we reject the reciprocal concealed carry permit legislation that has been making its way through Congress (with legislative tracks greased by NRA funds), and it must continue in developing common sense safety regulations on firearms. Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy is a strong advocate on these issues.

University Chaplain Tracy Mehr-Muska has let me know that there is a march in Hartford on March 24 for which we could organize transportation.  Here’s some info about it. CT Against Gun Violence is an organization that can provide more information on the issues. Tracy tells me it is often organizing groups to go to Hartford for various legislative initiatives.

How will we respond to the latest outbreak of gun violence? Students across the country are showing the way.

Update from University Admissions:

Wesleyan students have a proud tradition of civic engagement, and the university supports students’ rights to peaceful protest. The admission committee reviews the details of any suspension reported by an applicant, and a suspension for peaceful protest on issues of public concern would not impact an admission decision in any way.

4 thoughts on “Students Making a Difference for Gun Safety”

  1. Exactly what is the basis for your argument that we must “reject the reciprocal concealed carry permit legislation?” Why is that not considered “common sense?” Marching and demanding change to address emotional displeasure has been the hallmark of Wesleyan student activism in my lifetime. Is trying to ban or reclaim guns that already have broad distribution truly “common sense?” Many progressive activists suggest that gun bans are more likely to be effective than trying to deport “undocumented” residents. Seems to me that it is easier to hide a gun than a living person. Raising the age of purchase from 18 to 21 is something that the Federal government can influence the way it did with the drinking age in the mid 1980s. Should we reconsider revoking the 26th Amendment to align voting with drinking and gun owning? In general, citizens like the idea of background checks, until they are arbitrarily applied to limit their individual freedoms in entering buildings, using transportation and other actions we take for granted. Perhaps Wesleyan should foster a forum for rational discussion rather than just emotional outlet. Sane and compassionate citizens are heartbroken by what happened in Florida and the many similar instances that preceded it. Demanding change without actual solutions will not produce a desired outcome of reducing mass fatalities. Yes, the time to talk is now, so let’s talk. I don’t pretend to have the answers but I don’t believe the polarized extremes on either side care to solve the problem, only to foment the seeds of discontent. Let’s not play into their hands.

  2. As always, I am so proud to be a Wes alum to be reminded of our positive role in the community! Julia McMillan, ’06

  3. Raising our voices, marching, demanding change, these are proud Wesleyan traditions.

    Change comes when the status quo is no longer tolerated.

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