Vice President Biden, with Attorney General Eric Holder at left, speaks during a meeting with victims’ groups and gun safety organizations in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington on Jan. 9.
As political leaders meet to determine how to solve the problem of U.S. gun violence, college students remain divided on the issue.
In the wake of the Dec. 14 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 children and six educators dead, the national gun policy debate has resumed, with members of the federal gun lobby resisting calls for stronger gun control.
As Vice President Biden called together a national task force this week to offer solutions to address gun violence, he said that President Obama may use “executive action” to tighten gun control — a statement that received a diversity of student response.
“I don’t like the idea of regulating what people can have,” said University of Washington junior Andrew Wells, 21, of Shoreline, Wash. While he said he would never own a gun, Wells added that he was worried that Obama’s announcement could infringe on personal liberties.
Gun supporters like the National Rifle Association (NRA) have argued against new gun restrictions following the Sandy Hook massacre, arguing that to do so would be an infringement of the Second Amendment.
As Obama and other political figures began to call for measures, such as restricting the size of high-capacity ammunition magazines, strengthening background checks of gun buyers and renewing a federal ban on assault weapons, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre instead suggested that policymakers should aim to place more guns in schools in the form of armed police officers.
But Yale University sophomore Diana Li, 19, of New York City and Art Institute of Seattle junior Nathan Guth, 21, of Seattle, both said they support stricter gun laws, even if Obama must circumvent Congress to do so.
Li’s support for gun control, she said, was a result of hearing multiple young people testify at city council meetings about how gun violence has devastated the communities they live in — a situation she described as “terrifying.”
Guth, meanwhile, said he considered guns to be like nuclear weapons in that fewer guns would result in a safer world.
Biden said Obama wants a list of recommendations for gun control legislation from the task force by the end of January, when the president will officially be sworn in for his second term.
This week, Biden met with representatives from gun control advocates such as the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, gun control opponents such as the NRA and victims of gun violence, including two survivors of the 2007 mass shooting at Virginia Tech and the relative of a victim of July’s movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo.
Some students, though, are skeptical of the task force’s chances of having an impact.
University of Washington senior Abbigail Lam, 21, of Honolulu, said she is “indifferent” to gun control, as she believes policy is largely ineffective in fighting gun violence.
“Even if I were for gun control, it wouldn’t prevent people from getting guns,” Lam said.
The Federal Assault Weapons Ban, passed in 1994, expired in 2004.
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