Gun violence panel cross examines new Missouri gun legislation

| Contributing Reporter

Featured panelists discussed new Missouri gun legislation and possible initiatives moving forward Monday night at a gun violence panel held at Washington University’s Hillel.

The panelists—Democratic Missouri State Senator Jill Shupp, junior and College Republicans president Ruben Schuckit and junior Allie Liss, a student intern with the Gun Violence Initiative of Wash. U.’s Institute for Public Health—aimed to open up the conversation around gun violence and control.

The panel also gave students the opportunity to share their own stories and viewpoints on the current state of gun violence in the country.

Before the discussion began, Shupp explained the new changes in the Missouri state gun legislation.

“You don’t need a permit for anything in the state of Missouri when it comes to guns, which means there won’t be a background check. This is a growing problem in the legislature” Shupp said. “When we expand access to guns without expanding background checks, nothing good comes of that.”

The first question posed to the panel by moderator Neil Stein, a senior and president of the Hillel Council, pertained to initiatives the panelists would like to see undertaken moving forward.

“You are not necessarily going to be able to take away all guns—that’s not the goal of most of these efforts,” Liss said. “Most of the advocacy in the service provision work in St. Louis is aimed specifically at ensuring the safe usage of firearms, safe storage of firearms and about advocating for common sense gun legislation that will insure overall safety.”

Other questions speculated on gun control measures that could be put forth given the post-election Republican control of the Senate and presidency.

“I don’t know what we can predict from [President-elect Donald Trump] in terms of guns,” Schuckit said.

Shupp was more certain in her answer, saying that gun violence should not be a split issue.

“If we had some disease killing at the same rate as suicides and homicides, we would all be agreeing that the government needs to put money into this public health fund,” Shupp said. “A study of what gun violence causes to occur would be a worthy study.”

The final discussion question of the night centered around gun culture. The panelists were asked to share their thoughts on firearm use in video games and in popular culture has an influence on gun violence.

Shupp said she thinks that video games could have some impact on gun violence.

“I believe that it desensitizes you,” Shupp said. “I’m not sure how we got to this place in our country where the only way we can feel safe is to have a gun.”

Liss noted that there is a gender gap with respect to the use of guns, especially with respect to violence.

“You see higher rates of suicides by gun in men,” Liss said, “There are definitely gendered aspects of gun violence. I think with video games, specifically, it will be more of a culture shift [that is needed].”

Following the event, many of the students stayed to talk one-on-one with the panelists or talked amongst themselves in smaller groups about what they had heard. Many found the panel informative.

“I thought I heard very calm and reasonable arguments here from both sides,” sophomore Jonathan Mishory said. “I think these issues become very polarized, and this was a chance to hear supporters and opponents of certain gun legislation actually talking in ways that made sense. And [they] didn’t put down the other side and had a form of civil discourse that I haven’t seen in a while.”

Others left with more mixed feelings.

“I have a personal connection to gun violence, and it’s an important issue to me, and I wanted to hear what both sides had to say,” sophomore Lucy Greenbaum said. “I’m leaving feeling a little disheartened with the new legislation that has been passed. I feel a little hopeful that there are still people in the world who are fighting for protection.”

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