On April 18, The Office of Intercultural Engagement (OIE) and Eta Sigma Gamma Public Health Society hosted the event titled “In a Matter of Seconds: A Conversation about Gun Usage in America.” The assistant director of the OIE, Carla Fullwood, hosts a series of commUNITY dialogues as an opportunity for people to come together and talk about prominent issues that affect the community.
Fullwood enjoys the opportunity to come out to these commUNITY dialogues. She is particularly interested in this topic. “Personally I’ve been indirectly affected by gun violence in my family,” Fullwood said. “It’s always interesting to hear different perspectives, but even if people have similar thoughts … what leads you to that perspective?”
The conversation started with Lauren Koop, a UNCG senior majoring in Public Health and the program chair of Eta Sigma Gamma. She passed out a bowl with slips of paper with statistics on public health relating to gun usage in the United States. Some of the facts were, “The U.S has one of the highest rates of death by firearm in the developed world according to World Health Organization data” and “On an average month, 50 women are shot to death by intimate partners in the U.S.”
The purpose of bringing a list of facts into the dialogue was to hear people’s reactions to the statistics around gun violence throughout the United States. Koop’s reaction, “That [fact about] women always gets me because if there wasn’t a gun in the home, then it would be a bit harder to. There would be abuse, but it would be harder to kill somebody. The same thing goes with suicide. A lot of people fail when they attempt suicide, but when they have a gun they are 90% percent likely to succeed.”
Two weeks ago, the City Council of Greensboro had a special session to hear about resident’s views on gun violence, and they were considering on canceling an upcoming gun show. Dr. Erica Payton, a UNCG Public Health professor, informed the students on the details around the City Council of Greensboro’s session on gun violence.“The Council wanted to hear different perspectives on the gun show, whether they were supportive or against. They wanted to cancel the gun show in response to Parkland High gun shooting,” Dr. Payton said.
During Wednesday’s dialogue, a member in the audience expressed that they were proud gun owners and that they had fears surrounding what would happen if someone were to break into their home and they had no gun. The audience member went on to explain why they think it’s important that Americans have the right to bear arms.
“I don’t try to argue against our constitutional rights. I think it has been interpreted in a lot of different ways,” Dr. Payton explained in response to the audience member. “[From] a public health standpoint, the argument has never been to take away people’s guns; it has been on how we can create a safer environment for everyone.”
The dialogue then led into the topic of how easy it is to obtain a gun. People in the audience expressed a solution could be more restrictions or a series of steps on registering for a gun. The right to bear arms is a right we possess, but it should not be as easy as what some were trying to say, as they expressed the belief that a gun is a privilege.
Some audience members viewed the Second Amendment as outdated. Someone explained that the Second Amendment was created in an era where loading a gun took three or five minutes. If we compared the timeframe that it took to kill someone in 1865 compared to killing someone in 2018, we would see the evolution of how guns and technology has changed.
As the conversation came to a close, the main point people brought up was gun control. Someone expressed if people want the right to bear arms then they should be educated on gun safety early on. Overall, the dialogue left audience members to think, “What should we do moving forward?”