It’s not typical that student organization events feature firing 9 mm Glocks and dealing with a Wisconsin state trooper, but that’s how 25 College Republicans spent their Sunday morning in Waukesha.
The group invited Marquette students to a gun range for a safety event and a day of shooting firearms ranging from small, concealable pistols to shotguns.
Matt Walker, a freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences and an executive board member of Marquette College Republicans, organized the event in an effort to make the national debate on gun control more relevant to students.
“The event was a great success, and we hope to bring more students out to experience how to shoot a weapon,” Walker said. “The experience can help students better understand the debate over gun control by actually using a weapon.”
Kate Barelli, a freshman in the College of Health Sciences, said the gun debate felt more relevant for her after shooting.
“Because I had never even touched a gun before the safety event, the issue of gun control was a distant one for me,” Barelli said. “Being able to actually fire a weapon that could be in the hands of any one of Wisconsin’s residents made me realize how powerful guns are and how serious the conversation about them has to be. Experiencing the power of these weapons reaffirmed my belief that regulation and background checks should be an essential part of the procedure to legally own a gun.”
A bipartisan bill proposed by Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., and Pat Toomey, R-Penn., detailed a plan for increasing background checks for guns sold online and at trade shows. It failed to beat the threat of a filibuster in the Senate on April 17.
After the bill failed to advance, President Barack Obama held a press conference to express his disappointment with Congress.
“The fact is, most of these senators could not offer any good reason why we wouldn’t want to make it harder for criminals and those with severe mental illnesses to buy a gun,” Obama said. “There were no coherent arguments as to why we wouldn’t do this. It came down to politics.”
Samantha Connor, a freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences, is a lifelong hunter and agrees with the traditional Republican view supporting a Second Amendment interpretation based around the individual right to bear arms.
“I believe the Second Amendment helps to ensure my security as an American citizen,” Connor said.
A large portion of the event Sunday was dedicated to educating students about gun safety and how to properly handle a firearm. The College Republicans invited a Wisconsin state trooper to speak on the topic.
“We went through a 45-minute to an hour training session,” Walker said. “Even though we, the College Republicans, believe in our right to the Second Amendment, we also believe in training people to handle weapons in order to promote safety.”