Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Debaters fire on gun control’s political impact

In light of the upcoming election, the Residential College Board hosted a debate on gun control in Scott Hall on Monday mediated by Northwestern political science Lecturer Steve Young.

The event — which paired attorney Walter Maksym with Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin in a debate — kicked off a series of four fireside discussions designed to explore different aspects of the presidential election.

“I don’t know anything about gun control, but I think it’s important to be informed on all the issues in any election,” said Communication junior Katrina Shonbeck, who helped arrange the event and is an RCB executive board member.

The board used the upcoming election as a platform to jump-start the debate, but the event discussed the impact gun control policies have beyond the political realm.

Maksym, a member of an anti-gun control conceal-carry organization, argued that “there is not gun violence, there is people violence.”

He added that criminals are going to ignore the law anyway, so gun control makes no difference in crime and forces law-abiding citizens to leave their protection in the hands of the government.

Suffredin refuted Maksym’s claims by arguing that the “libertarian view has limits,” and “those limits are in things like guns.”

Gun control is crucial, he added. Suffredin called upon students to imagine people in their dorms with concealed weapons that they would not know about.

The pair also debated Congress’ failure to renew the assault weapons ban, which prohibited the sale of certain handguns and other weapons.

Sen. John Kerry voted to renew the weapons assault ban, but President Bush made no effort to encourage the bill’s passage despite saying he supported it.

Although Suffredin praised Illinois for being one of the last few states to ban carrying concealed weapons, he said the failure of Congress to renew the assault weapons ban will make it harder to keep dangerous weapons off the streets.

Maksym said he approved the ban’s end because gun-ownership is a “precious right,” while Suffredin said renewing the ban should have been as important as any other public health issue.

Although Suffredin and Maksym disagreed on many gun policies, they agreed that gun control has a minimal impact in the 2004 presidential election.

During the questioning session after the debate, students expressed concern about a world where everyone has guns.

Weinberg freshman Paul Baumbusch said that even though the debate’s focus quickly shifted from politics to the value of gun control, the panel did address his chief concern — the National Rifle Association.

“I’m trying to educate myself on just how much the NRA controls presidential politics,” Baumbusch said, referring to ad campaigns that mock Kerry for his position on assault weapons.

Reach Elizabeth Gibson at [email protected].

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Debaters fire on gun control’s political impact