By Emmalyn Campbell
It is hard to imagine a more polarizing issue in American society right now than gun control.
The recent mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fl. has once again brought this debate into national headlines.
As a part of ESU’s Global Week, a celebration of diverse cultures represented in its academic community, the event “Gun Culture Across Nations” brought this debate to campus. The event which happened on April 4, was sponsored by Derek Hess of Global Learning Community and Matthew Deegan of ESU’s College Republicans.
Mathilde Tank-Munier, a graduate student from France, Alvin Shang, a graduate student from China, and David Dalton, the founder of the American Gun Owners Alliance served as panelist.
The three engaged in a lively discussion with each other and with audience members about how gun violence, legislation, and views differ among cultures.
Hess reminded the audience that the event was meant to be a discussion rather than a debate. Dalton described the American Gun Owners Alliance as a “pro-gun organization” which covers all 50 states.
Shang described the relationship of guns to the Chinese people.
According to him, “common people don’t own guns,” and he had originally had a misconception that every family in the United States owned a gun or was pro-gun.
As an education major, the occurrence of school shootings “shocks and saddens” him.
However, he was quick to acknowledge that the issue is “complicated.”
Tank-Munier explained that, like China, French citizens owning guns is extremely rare.
In France, guns are used for sports or hunting, and French people must continually renew a license to have access to these weapons.
However, she said that she feels safer being in the United States knowing that citizens can have guns and can defend themselves.
Dalton said to Tank-Munier that he was surprised by a European having this reaction.
He believes that American gun owners are often demonized in the media but are simply “average, ordinary people” with the “God-given right” to defend themselves.
He then posed a question to the audience: How many of you trust in your government 100%?
One member raised her hand.
Many more raised their hands in response to being asked if they feel afraid that their government can take their rights away, whatever those rights may be.
Dalton then mentioned countries where citizens were apparently killed after the government seized their guns, including Cambodia, Germany, Turkey, China and many others.
Shang quickly challenged Dalton for including China among the bunch, and he asked Dalton to cite his sources.
Dalton did not at the event but encouraged Shang to do independent research before the two agreed to disagree.
When an audience member asked Dalton how he felt about the recent mass shootings, he explained that “all gun owners are petrified by what happens” in the United States and voiced support for training teachers in the use of firearms and allowing them to carry in schools.
Another audience member asked Shang and Tank-Munier about the prevalence of school shootings in China and France. Both answered that these events are very rare, but Tank-Munier said that it is “too late” to ban guns in the United States and believes that people will obtain them regardless of what laws are or are not in place. Shang explained that guns “enable and empower” people and that, unfortunately, some may act violently with this empowerment.
Dalton countered that “you can’t regulate evil” and proposed to focus on the United States’ “incredible mental health problem.”
As more members of the audience asked questions, debated with the panelists, and voiced their own beliefs, there were times when the room was heated with emotion.
Although there was not one right answer to be taken from this Global Week event, audience turnout and the constant movement of the conversation proved that ESU is always ready to engage in intelligent discussions.
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