Going into the fields of both social work and criminal justice, in some sort of manner I will have to deal with guns on a daily basis. Whether I get a job where I will be permitted to open carry a weapon or even if I have to deal with a suicidal patient who has a cabinet full of guns at home, I knew in some sort of fashion, firearms and guns would always play a part in my life. And this is one of many reasons I wanted to attend the Ashland Center for Nonviolence conference about Understanding our Gun Culture. This conference opened my eyes to a lot of issues relating to gun rights and gun control.
The first night of the conference, as a part of the pre-conference panel, I heard a lot about the issues of gun control and gun rights, specifically relating to this past election. People always hear these terms especially around election time, but do they truly know what each term means. The main focus of the panel was how the terms gun control and gun rights form a spectrum and many people fall in the middle of the two. No one wants complete gun control and the same for gun rights. We can all agree that there needs to be some sort of happy medium between both, but how can we achieve this? No one on the panel knew how to answer this question and they were all very honest in saying that we will probably never be able to form a solution to the issues of gun control versus gun rights.
The next day as part of the conference I heard many speakers speak on a variety of topics, specifically relating to gun ownership and then also safe zones and concealed carry being allowed on different college campuses and different schools throughout the country. Most people like to have their assumptions when it comes to who owns guns or who owns the most guns, but lets be honest, just like most other stereotypes, these usually aren’t correct. In most cases, gun owners own only one gun in the entire household and most of these households consist of married, middle aged white men. Minorities do not make up most of the gun ownership and single people do not either, which is what would fit most of the stereotypes. Like with any other debatable topic in this world, when it comes down to gun ownership, gun rights, and gun control, one should do all the research they can and become fully informed before taking a side and defending it and that is what this conference opened up my eyes to the most.
Jessica James is a student at Ashland University majoring in Social Work and Criminal Justice and is president of the Criminal Justice Club.