The Politics of the Gun

Lizzy Hardison ’16, Associate News Editor

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State Senator and Democrat Larry Farnese (left) and State Representative and Republican Stephen Bloom (right) debate gun control legislation in Pennsylvania while fielding questions from the audience.

State Senator and Democrat Larry Farnese (left) and State Representative and Republican Stephen Bloom (right) debate gun control legislation in Pennsylvania while fielding questions from the audience.

Five months ago, Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut was attacked by a single gunman wielding a rifle.

The shooter and the rifle he wielded would go on to inspire a nation-wide debate on gun violence and legislation.

On Tuesday, April 30, 2013, the Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues hosted “The Great Gun Debate.” The event featured presentations and a question and answer session with two Pennsylvania politicians: State Representative Stephen Bloom (R), serving the 199th Legislative District in Cumberland County, and State Senator Larry Farnese (D), serving the 1st Senatorial District in Philadelphia. The two speakers discussed the merits of gun control legislation currently being considered by the Pennsylvania state legislature.

Bloom began the event with a speech expressing his support for the second amendment and his belief that the amendment is critical for the protection of the first amendment.

“In order to preserve liberty, there must be an idea of security,” said Bloom. “We need to use the first amendment to protect the second amendment or we’ll have to use the second amendment to protect our first amendment rights.”

In his speech, Bloom referenced John Lott, a political commentator who advocated for second amendment rights during a visit to campus earlier this month. Bloom endorsed Lott’s argument that “more guns means less crime.”

After Bloom concluded his speech, Farnese advocated for what he called “common sense gun laws.” Farense expressed his personal support for second amendment rights, but argued for increased control on assault weapons and stricter gun control regulations in urban areas.

“The gun legislation is not from a liberal think tank, it’s not advocated just by me,” said Farnese. “[It’s advocated] by men and women in law enforcement.”

Following their speeches, Bloom and Farnese fielded questions from audience members, ranging from topics such as the constitutionality of gun regulation to the ways to address the rise in sales of assault weapons. Each speaker also delivered a short concluding speech and after the event there was a book sale and signing for Bloom’s recent release “They’ve Crossed the Line: a Patriot’s Guide to Religious Freedom.”

Though the event was marketed as a debate, some audience members expressed disapproval with the limited opportunities for interaction between the two panelists.

“I thought they kind of meandered. I wanted a real debate,” said Meghan Reynolds ’16.

 

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