LUBBOCK, TX - PoliTech, a student organization on Texas Tech’s campus, hosted a gun legislation forum at the university, featuring state legislators and special interest group representatives to discuss the controversial issue.
The panelists included Senator Charles Perry (R), Democratic Candidate for Congress Miguel Levario, Ed Scruggs of Texas Gun Sense, CJ Grisham of Open Carry Texas, Chad Hasty of KFYO Talk Radio and Julie Gavran of Keep Guns Off Campus. The discussion ranged from universal background checks, to locational restrictions, to campus carry, to even how domestic violence affects gun violence.
"It's not the usual talking points that you hear, or not the usual partisan rhetoric, but you'll hear people from both sides of the aisle having real dialogue so we can get down to real solutions about this controversial and hot topic,” said Raul Cevallos, one of the founders of PoliTech and a Texas Tech alum.
Most of the panelists agreed the issue was timely, after some recent tragedies hit close to home.
"Obviously a lot of emotion of recent things that have happened in the state and around the country,” Senator Perry said.
Ed Scruggs of Texas Gun Sense feels that in order to make a change, both sides need to find some common ground.
Scruggs said, "We have got a problem, and we have got to find a way to come together even if it is just on small things, because we have got to have a discussion before we can do something to solve this problem."
Some vehemently defended gun ownership during the panel discussion.
"It isn't the guns fault. We just got to as best as we can as legislators build an environment to where we catch the folks that shouldn't,” Perry said. “And the folks that should, we should never punish them or penalize them or keep them from being able to defend themselves from the guys that are going to get them regardless of what the law says."
CJ Grisham of Open Carry Texas agreed.
"What we want to do is make sure law abiding citizens can carry anywhere and any way they want to,” Grisham said.
But some disagreed, calling for legislative reform and universal background checks.
Miguel Levario, who is running for Congress and also teaches at Texas Tech, brought up worries that faculty and students may have about campus carry.
"There are faculty in the social sciences that feel very vulnerable because of the topics they discuss in their classrooms. As a faculty member, a student is allowed to come into my office with a gun."
But they all agreed on one point, it's an issue that needs to be discussed.
“Myself included... I expected a lot of people going in there, set in their ways and pushing their rhetoric on both sides. But then all of us coming out, hopefully, at least, learning why the other side thinks that way, even if we don't change minds. I think what is important is that we talk,” Grisham said.
“So we need to talk about it, and I think this is an example and opportunity for constructive dialogue about solutions for gun safety,” Levario said.
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