Fire Away

Thacher Students Take Sides in the Gun Control Debate

In a disagreement this fall about guns and gun control on the Pergola, contentious sentiments were thrown around by several Thacher seniors.

Although in the Thacher bubble, the issues and contentious ideas around guns, the Second Amendment, and gun control permeate the boundaries of Perimeter Road. Thacher students care about the past and future of guns in America, and are trying to fully understand how they are affected.

The gun range at Thacher is an oft-frequented location for . . . Photo Credit: Arianna Finger

The Twin Peaks Trap Range is used by students and faculty.  Photo Credit: Arianna Finger

In a poll of a randomly selected group of 100 Thacher students, 80 reported they supported the right to bear arms. The other 20 said they did not believe guns should be legal. Of those 80 who supported the right to bear arms, 64 said that they would be in favor of increased background checks and or the elimination of semi-automatic weapons available to the public.

The argument to keep the Second Amendment in place is rooted in various cultural and logistical beliefs. Teddy Williams ’16 stated, “Without it, criminals would still obtain guns illegally and people who could have defended themselves could be killed.”

Horse faculty member Rene Duykaerts also adamantly supports the Second Amendment rights.

As a matter of fact, it is not a question of a right to hunt, or to shoot sporting matches, it is a question of being responsible for oneself and one’s family, community, and be able to defend in the case of the gravest extreme, life, limb and property. A sovereign nation, state, community, starts with a sovereign individual, who does have the God given right, and DUTY, to defend him/her self. The Constitution merely guarantees those human rights, and therefore is the most important written document of mankind, after the Bible.

Expressing the oppositions argument, Spanish teacher Cecilia Ortiz commented, “I do not support the second amendment. It was thought of when life was completely different. A rifle or pistol from those days is not one of today. If you are not a hunter, why do you need a gun? To defend yourself from other guns? Redundant!”

Also vehemently opposed to the use of guns in America is Tobi Oyinlola ’17.

‘… The right to bear arms…’ This would have made sense in the late 1700’s, when the Constitution was written, because the firearms back then were capable of one or maybe two rounds per minute and were extremely inaccurate, while the weapons of today can sustain 60-100 rounds per minute. Although this does show a very significant increase in rounds per minute, this should no longer apply to the original Constitution.

Oyinlola’s feeling that the interpretation of the Constitution should be changed is a sentiment found commonly amongst the majority of the students polled, who stated they would support an increase in regulations on guns.

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Dorm head and college counselor Kara Hooper falls into this category.

I believe in the Second Amendment, but I find it interesting that a weapon of mass destruction that is illegal killed three people at the Boston Marathon, while something that is currently legal in our country killed 26 teachers and students in Newtown, Connecticut. We need to think carefully as a nation about whether limits are worth considering.

Reiterating Hooper’s sentiment is fellow college counselor, dorm head and football coach Tony Franco who identifies as “lying in the middle, closer to the supportive side” of the debate. He articulated his support for some restrictions, and extensive background checks and applications.

You should have the right to bear arms, but there is no need for a machine gun or semi-automatic weapon.

At Thacher the spectrum moves from passionate support of, to fully modifying the Second Amendment.

Grant Ellman ’14, who occasionally shoots guns at home and with the gun club, refers to himself as “a moderate” on issues such as gun control.

I think that you should be able to purchase guns. There shouldn’t be restrictions on what guns people should be able to purchase. But, I think that the higher the danger associated with the gun the more restrictions there should be. I think that the idea that the Constitution is a living breathing document is a good idea, but I also think that the right to bear arms is a fundamental American right.

Thacher students and faculty remain involved and aware of the importance of understanding and discussing liberties and dangers within the country, and are openly discussing these issues on campus. Perhaps future Sir Winston Churchill Debate Society events might focus on this issue.

Additional Contributions by Lexie Kirkwood ’14

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