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.”
“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:
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
The governor received a standing ovation, at least among Democrats, when he called for background checks on all gun sales. Currently, people who purchase guns from individuals are not required to undergo background checks. But Republicans did applaud Hickenlooper when he called for strengthening the state’s mental-health system in hopes of catching would-be assailants sooner.
In the wake of the Newtown shooting, should teachers be armed?
One week after the Newtown shooting, the NRA has ended its social media blackout and the national gun policy debate is as bitter as it’s ever been. Thousands of Americans are demanding gun control now, and if you’re reading Wesleying, chances are you agree. But on the gun-owning side of the lobby—the sort of people who follow NRA’s Twitter account in the first place—conservatives demand the opposite: more guns, more concealed carry, more self-defense. (Don’t believe these people are real? Read a few NRA Facebook comments. Go ahead; I’ll wait.) In one heated exchange, Larry Pratt of the Gun Owners of America appeared on Piers Morgan and suggested that gun control advocates are responsible for the massacre. “Since we have concealed carry laws in all of our country now, people can get a concealed firearm,” Pratt argued. “And yet, we have laws that say not in schools.”
Should teachers be armed in the classroom? Could guns in school have saved the lives of 20 children and six teachers? Should America combat guns with—err, more guns?
Professor Potter describes learning about the Sandy Hook massacre after having just read Jeffrey Goldberg’s December Atlantic piece in favor of more guns. The bulk of her argument revolves around an experience at Wesleyan following the shooting of May, 2009, when a gunman remained on the loose after murdering Johanna Justin-Jinich ’10 in Red & Black Cafe. Wesleyan’s campus went into lockdown, and Potter waited for hours in the Center for the Americas: