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History students host forum on gun violence, guns in America

May 17, 2018

 

MORGAN BERNARD
Managing Editor | mrb056@latech.edu

 

Louisiana Tech students had the opportunity to voice their opinions about guns and gun issues in society while also learning more about gun history during a campus forum titled Guns in America.

 

The forum was hosted by students in HIST 490, a course that discusses guns in America, in Wyly Auditorium May 3. During the forum, a survey the class sent out to Tech students about gun statistics was discussed and students from the class shared what they learned in HIST 490. Attendees were also able to ask questions and share their own gun-related stories.

 

Drew McKevitt, an assistant professor of history at Tech, teaches HIST 490. He said this forum was a project for his students, but was also an opportunity for other students on campus.

 

“This quarter I am teaching a class called Guns and Gun Violence in American History,” McKevitt said. “I assigned the students in the class with the task of putting together a public forum to invite the campus community to discuss various issues related to guns in American society. I think it’s important for students to see history not as a discipline in which they have to memorize things dead people did, but instead as a living conversation between the past and the present through which historians bring a unique perspective and expertise to contemporary problems.”

 

McKevitt said he hopes students who attended the forum gained a clearer image of gun history in America and how it affects our society today.

 

“I hope students see that campus attitudes toward a range of gun-related issues reflect the national diversity on these kinds of questions,” he said. “I also hope they get a sense from the students in the class that, regardless of one’s political opinions today, the history of guns in the United States is messy and complex and can’t be simplified into sound bites to score easy political points.”

 

Joshua Green, a junior industrial engineering major, took McKevitt’s HIST 490 course this quarter. He said the class has helped him better understand the topic of guns and gun violence from both viewpoints.

 

“I am an avid gun supporter, and while I did not speak at the forum, it was important for me as a member of the class to host the forum and help dispel myths from both sides of the gun debate,” Green said. “One thing I picked up through McKevitt’s class was a better understanding of statistics considering gun violence. A large majority of deaths attributed to guns can be directly classified as suicide or gang violence while mass shootings account for less than one percent. Those figures were very interesting to me and helped me gain a better understanding of the debate.”

 

Green said the forum was an opportunity for students to ask questions and freely speak about their concerns with guns in a safe environment.

 

“Overall I feel like the forum was a chance to bring unbiased facts to light concerning the polarizing topic of guns and gun violence,” he said. “So many people are passionate in their stance for both sides but this forum allowed each side to look at the facts and have a peaceful discussion.”

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