A heads-up from Ben Florsheim ’14 and the Wesleyan Democrats on how to spend Good Friday in Memorial Chapel:
Richard Blumenthal (D), the senior United States Senator from Connecticut, will speak on the issue of gun violence in the United States this Friday, March 29, at 5 pm in the Wesleyan Memorial Chapel. Doors open at 4:30. There will be time at the end of the talk for audience-submitted questions.
Before winning election to the Senate in 2010, Senator Blumenthal served twenty years as Connecticut’s Attorney General. As senator, Blumenthal has taken the lead on attempts to enact meaningful gun control legislation in the wake of the Newtown tragedy.
Senator Blumenthal’s speech will be followed by a Q&A session moderated by Logan Dancey, Assistant Professor in Wesleyan’s Department of Government.
When: Friday, March 29 @ 5 pm (doors open at 4:30) Where: Memorial Chapel Facebook: here Submitting questions: you can either write your question(s) on the FB event wall or on slips of paper that will be provided to the audience during Blumenthal’s speech
Back in February, just before winter storm Nemo crippled most of campus, the CFA Hall hosted “Guns and Gun Violence: Crisis, Policy and Politics,” a panel discussion featuring various visiting scholars. Chaired by Wesleyan’s own Professor of History and African-American Studies Leah Wright, the discussion involved professors Saul Cornell, Kristin A. Goss, and Matthew Miller from Fordham, Duke, and Harvard, respectively—a rather stacked lineup of experts. The room was packed, but in his reflection on the discussion that ensued, Wesleying’s justicedescribed it as an echo chamber of predominantly left-leaning views:
While I will happily advocate for the liberal solution for many issues (with appropriate data as backup), I would also like to hear what people with “non-traditionally-Wesleyan” opinions have to say, especially with an issue as explosive as gun control. And this event would have been a perfect opportunity to bring in a panelist with a non-liberal perspective. But we didn’t. And we can tell ourselves all we want that this was because the “other side” simply isn’t correct, but in the end, that’s the real problem—we’re just talking to ourselves.
If you missed the event but remain interested, the Allbritton Center for Building Names That Sound Like Robots has only recently managed to post the entire thing on YouTube. Judge for yourself—watch it below, or at this link.
A few days later, on Valentine’s Day (which doubled as the two-month anniversary of the Newtown shooting), I joined about 30 other Wesleyan students, as well as Rabbi David Teva and Reverend Tracy Mehr-Muska, on a brief trip to Hartford for the March for Change rally in support of stricter gun laws. Initially proposed by Reverend Tracy, the trip was organized by Em Kianka ’13, Zach Malter ’13, and Michael Linden ’15.
Carrying signs with slogans like “MORE LOVE LESS GUNS” and “STAND ON THE SIDE OF LOVE,” we arrived at the state capital building in Hartford, where a crowd of over 5,000 supporters had gathered near mounds of snow and Governor Dannel Malloy was finishing up a stirring speech that hearkened back to his moving remarks in the hours after the tragedy. “Every day that we delay is a day in which more innocent individuals,” Malloy spoke from the capital steps. “I hope the NRA hopes the ‘Newtown Effect’ will go away. It won’t. We can’t let what happened in Connecticut ever go away.” At one point, a hushed chant broke out in the crowd: “Now. Now. Now. Now.”
Curiously, the Argus shot is immediately followed by a phone interview with “Michael Feiring, Vassar Student,” whom upperclassmen will immediately recognize as Micah Feiring ’11, former WSA President (and not quite a Vassar student). Wesleying reached out to Feiring for comment last Friday, and he replied yesterday.
“I was actually unaware of this video at the time I received your message,” wrote Feiring. “Needless to say, I did not speak with The Onion about the role college activists play in the gun control debate. I do support stricter regulations and I think that all voices are significant in the gun control dialogue—even poorly run newspapers like the Wesleyan Argus.
“I grew up around guns. I like guns. But I was there. And something’s got to change.”
The CFA Hall was packed on Wednesday as faculty, students, and Middletown-area residents gathered to hear what three of the nation’s leading experts in gun violence had to say about the United States’ gun violence epidemic. The panel was chaired by Wesleyan’s very own Leah Wright and consisted of professors Saul Cornell, Kristin A. Goss, and Matthew Miller from Fordham, Duke, and Harvard, respectively (you can read up on the participants here). Each professor gave a ten minute lecture on their particular field followed by a Q & A led by NPR’s John Dankosky. I’ll give a summary of each lecture, then some of the important points from the Q & A, and end with a summary of my thoughts on the whole event. Let’s get started.
Professor Cornell: Professor Cornell gave an abbreviated history of the Second Amendment and Second Amendment interpretation. He detailed the current state of affairs, where many people have a “Second Amendment Tourette’s Syndrom.” He explained that our society talks about the amendment like it’s “monolithic and its meaning has never changed,” when in fact it’s been reinterpreted just as much as any other section of the Constitution. Professor Cornell also described the “three myths” of gun control:
Missed the first planning meeting but wish you could have came? Please come to the second planning meeting for the March for Change that will take place in Hartford on Thursday, February 14th from 11-12:30. The March for Change is a grassroots effort organized by a coalition of activists supporting the enactment of safer gun legislation in CT and will support the efforts of CT Against Gun Violence. March for Change supports several potential legislative changes, including strengthening our assault weapons ban and banning large capacity ammunition magazines of more than 7 rounds, with no grandfathering.
Please come stand in solidarity and attend this planning meeting! As a community, we must take a stand and tell our legislators that enacting gun control legislation is necessary to ending gun violence in the state of Connecticut. At this meeting, we will be having an informed and grounded discussion of gun control in the U.S., making posters and fliers for the march, and discussing how to get as many people involved as possible.
Professor Jennifer Tucker cordially invites you to check out this nifty, poignantly piquant panel happening Wednesday night:
On Wednesday evening, Feb. 6 at 7:30 PM, the Allbritton Center of Study of Public Life will host a panel and public discussion, “Guns and Gun Violence: Crisis, Policy and Politics” in the CFA Hall on the Wesleyan campus. We hope that our Center, here in central CT, could be used to put a spotlight on the rich scholarship on guns and gun violence and the need for public debate informed by research from different domains, including the social sciences, public policy and public health.
The panel will be chaired by Leah Wright, Assistant Professor of History and African American Studies at Wesleyan. Following the presentations, the audience discussion will be moderated by John Dankosky, WNPR News Director and host of “Where We Live.”
Want to spend the two-month anniversary of the Newtown shooting marching through Hartford with thousands of others to demand sensible gun legislation in Connecticut? So do I. There’s a planning meeting on Tuesday, and Em Kianka ’13 has deets:
The recent tragedy in Newtown has just made more apparent an issue that has been neglected for far too long. We as a community must take a stand and tell our legislators that enacting gun control legislation now is necessary to ending gun violence in the state of Connecticut. Come stand in solidarity with those working to end gun violence and join the March for Change in Hartford the morning of February 14th. The March for Change is organized by a coalition of activists supporting the enactment of safer gun legislation in CT and will support the efforts of CT Against Gun Violence.
Interested in marching or helping mobilize a coalition of Wesleyan students to attend or volunteer at the march? Come attend this planning meeting on Tuesday, 1/29 at 4:15 in Usdan 110 to talk about our vision for Wesleyan’s involvement in the march. THERE WILL BE SNACKS!
Also, please invite your friends!
Date: Tuesday, January 29 (the actual march is February 14) Time: 4:15 p.m. Place: Usdan 110 Facebook:koobecaF
A few days ago, I posted a link to a petition that urges the White House to start a debate about gun control on my Facebook because of the Sandy Hook shooting. Thankfully, it seems as though the White House is finally on the road to enacting gun control reforms, after years of infuriating inaction. To my surprise, however, the first comment under my post was a criticism of my logic, in which the author inserted a link to this Christian Post article and argued the following:
I think the problem is how mental illness is addressed in this nation, and NOT guns. The assault weapons ban expired years ago, and nothing changed; to put another ban in place without addressing other problems in our society will only make people feel good. It’s funny that bibles are allowed to be read in prisons, but not in our public schools. Too bad that a mentally sick person has to commit a serious crime before he gets off the street and into an institution where help is rendered…just saying.
The person who posted this is a member of my family, whom I get along with and love deeply. Additionally, I agree with him to a slight extent, in that I think mental illness is an important factor in mass shootings and gun regulation (but my agreements end there). Because of all this, I found it very difficult to react to his views in my typical fashion — that is, with rage and a righteous affirmation that “he’s an ignorant, Bible thumping conservative who just doesn’t get it.” While part of me still thinks this about people who claim “guns aren’t the problem,” having a close family member voice this opinion gave me pause, because I care for and respect him. Ultimately, I decided to respond to him, and I have copied my rebuttal to his comment here.