Letter from the Editor: Be Your Own Party

Matthew Korb ‘14, Editor-in-chief

As with any college or university, national events tend to inspire debates. Go to any party or study group during an election or legislation debate and wait; you’ll eventually find an armchair politician who is just itching to tell you his way to get free energy, end all wars and stop poverty.

A perfect example of this phenomenon is the gun debate that kicked off in the wake of the Newtown Shooting.

It’s been five months, nearly half a year, since the shooter went on his rampage. In the wake of this tragedy, we as a nation began the appropriate process of re-evaluating our gun legislation and the safety of our schools.

Then partisanship got in the way and what should have been a calm discussion on appropriate levels of gun legislation became trench warfare between donkeys and elephants.

The gun debate is complex. It is not a single issue that can be boiled down into ‘yay’ or ‘nay.’ Currently there are, at minimum, nearly ten policy proposals that rest under the umbrella term of the ‘gun legislation.’ However, talk to any student here (or, for that matter, anyone in the country), and a majority of them will say those golden words: “I am for/against gun legislation.”

What do you mean? Are you, like 85 percent of Americans, in support of background checks for private and gun show sales? And are you also part of the 32 percent that are for having armed security guards in school? Perhaps you are unsure about whether we should allow the sale of assault-style weapons like 5 percent of Americans.

Though I identify myself as an independent, most people usually peg me for a liberal Democrat. I’m for social support programs. I voted for Obama in both elections. And yet I am not supporting gun legislation along party lines.

I believe that we shouldn’t ban semi-automatic weapons, which is a Republican thought. Yet I’m also in agreement with independents when they say that we should ban people with mental illness from purchasing guns. And I’m in solidarity with the Democrats when they say that we should have a federal database to track gun sales.

Rabid partisanship is the death of debate. If you lock yourself into your selected party’s rhetoric then you become deaf to outside thinking. In the gun debate, as with all debates, you must distance yourself from taking other people’s opinions and select what you yourself believe in

Don’t just parrot your favorite group. Be your own party.

Statistics courtesy of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.

Data accurate as of January 2013