By Alexandra Huzyk ’20
On Wednesday, March 27, Providence College Democrats and Republicans held a debate on gun control.
Madison Clark ’19 and Bryan Bates ’20 represented the PC Democrats, while Krista Minniti ’20 and Charlie Dumon ’21 represented the PC Republicans. Dr. Joe Cammarano, a professor of public and community service and political science at the College, acted as the moderator and enforced the structural components of the debate.
The first question that was posed was: “Will gun regulations make a community safer?”
The PC Democrats began with their argument, asserting that statistics have proven that communities with higher levels of gun ownership have higher levels of gun violence per capita.
Clark argued that through the creation of gun regulations, imposing consistent background checks, and restricting open-carry laws, a community would become safer. Bates added to this argument, stating,“Some people say cars are more dangerous than guns. Instead of outlawing them, we regulated them to make sure they are safer for society as a whole.”
In response, PC Republicans argued that gun regulations would not make a community safer.
Minniti argued that a large percentage of reported gun violence was attributed to suicide and illegally owned handguns, which would be attained through the black market no matter the amount of regulations imposed. She used Canada as an example of a country with higher gun rates per capita and lower homicide rates than the U.S. to further emphasize her point that regulations are not the answer to making a community safer.
Dumon took a more radical approach in his contribution, citing the Sutherland Springs Church shooting in 2017. He claimed that, “Deregulations are something that will make the community safer.” Dumon stated that the only thing that ended the massacre was a “good guy with a gun.”
Each side was given one minute to offer a rebuttal to the opposing side’s argument. The Democratic side chose to approach the point brought up in regards to suicide.
Clark stated, “Over two-thirds of deaths related to guns are also related to suicide.” People who choose to use guns for a method of suicide are more likely to actually die, as opposed to those who choose to use pain killers or other methods. Clark concluded that, “reducing the availability of guns has an impact on whether or not a person actually dies.”
The Republican members refocused on the homicide rates, claiming that creating further gun regulations would only cause more people to access the black market. They cited Chicago as a city that has some of the strictest regulations on guns in the country, and yet has a very high homicide rate.
The second pre-determined question that Dr. Cammarano posed was: “How should schools prepare for active shooters?”
The Republicans initiated the debate, beginning with the assertion that schools should have at least one armed officer and there should be training for teachers on how to use a firearem.
Dumon argued that it would be more efficient and beneficial for a teacher to have a gun in order to minimize carnage. He emphasized the amount of time it would take to respond to a shooter without having a gun, by counting the seconds it would take to walk to the fire exit, attempt to get the fire extinguisher, and successfully disable the shooter.
The Democrats argued that instead of giving teachers guns, people should be confronting the motivations and underlying causes of why individuals commit school shootings. Instead of arming staff on school grounds, Clark argued that there should be resources provided to educate teachers on how to resolve conflict without violence.
Clark also asserted that the presence of an armed officer might add to existing tensions, particularly in racially diverse schools. Bates added, “resource officers can be a good asset,” if they are guided on how to use their expertise within schools specifically.
Another question was: “How should the Second Amendment be understood?”
Minniti began the argument for the Republican side by stating that it should be interpreted in the most literal sense. She claimed, “Without the Second Amendment, there is nothing that stands between citizens and anarchy,” for it was initially created for defense against totalitarianism. Tyranny, Minniti asserted, is not a thing of the past.
Dumon elaborated on this tangent, stating, “The Second Amendment was the greatest gift that God ever imposed on the USA,” because it protects all other protections. He cited tyrannical leaders such as Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Vladimir Lenin, and Mao Zedong who took away peoples’ guns and thus took away their fundamental ability to defend themselves against their government.
Bates began the Democratic argument by stating that the Second Amendment and the Constitution itself “is a living and breathing document.” He argued that if people fail to interpret it in a modern context, we won’t be able to progress as a society. Bates stated that the Amendment was “predicated on the idea of a well-regulated militia,” which they defined as state force.
Both Bates and Clark argued that the Amendment was built to be flexible and to fit the modern age.
Other questions involved how each side defined self-defense, if there should be a universal background check, and if there should be any factors that disqualify someone from the right to bear arms.
Followed by the discussion of these predetermined questions was the opportunity for the audience to submit questions for the panel.
These questions addressed critical topics such as how one can objectively know whether or not a guy with a gun is “good,” whether a teacher should be obligated to use a gun on a student who has a weapon, stand-your-ground laws, and how realistic it is to argue that the Second Amendment protects the right to defend against tyranny when weapons of mass destruction exist.
This debate provided a unique opportunity for PC students to voice their opinions about a divise topic in a civil and engaging manner.