Generation Lockdown Combats National Gun Violence


Kelsey Knorp
National Beat Reporter

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Roseburg, Oregon suffered one of the latest installments in an escalating saga of campus massacres, but an emerging student movement known as Generation Lockdown hopes to make it one of the last.

The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence has taken a lead in organizing the initiative, along with local student group Georgetown Against Gun Violence, both based in Washington, D.C. A conference call among both groups and a number of other activists nationwide introduced the Generation Lockdown coalition last week, where plans were made to roll out an op-ed campaign in student and local newspapers across the country in remembrance of the one-month anniversary of the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon.

Initiative leaders have scheduled another discussion for October 28 and plan to continue the conference calls regularly as a means of collaboration between campuses across the country. The first call drew an estimated 15 to 20 students from universities across several states, including Pennsylvania, Texas, Illinois, Florida, Oregon and others, according to Brady Center organizing intern Samantha Smith. Even when accounting for those who couldn’t make the call, the movement has so far generated interest from 42 students in 31 schools across 17 states.

“There was a great sense on the call that the students were ready to not only come together for this one moment, but build a continual effort moving forward,” Smith said.

Georgetown Against Gun Violence drew national attention earlier this month after the Washington Post reported on a rally held by the group at the Capitol calling for Congress to act on proposed gun control legislation. Second year student Sarah Clements and fourth year Emma Iannini of Georgetown University started the organization last year, though both were involved in gun control activism long before. Clements and Iannini are native to Newtown, Connecticut, and Clements’ mother, a teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School, survived the shooting that killed 20 children and six faculty members in December 2012.

The D.C.-based organization hopes to recruit speakers such as Bob Weiss and Richard Martinez, both parents to victims of the 2014 mass shooting in Isla Vista, over the next school year. During the week following the UCC shooting, Georgetown Against Gun Violence hosted Mayu Takeda of Generation Progress, the youth engagement branch of the Center for American Progress, at its second meeting of the semester. Takeda’s discussion centered around campus carry legislation, which permits students to carry a concealed weapon on their college campus in the interest of self-defense.

Earlier this year, Texas became the eighth state to permit campus carry, beginning August 2016. Oregon has been included in that list since 2011. Just 19 states, including California, explicitly ban guns on all college campuses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Alternately, 23 states leave the decision to ban or allow campus carry up to individual institutions. Most recently, gun carry legislation failed in the Florida state legislature but has been reintroduced for next year’s legislative session.

One argument by proponents of campus carry legislation has centered around sexual assault prevention. However, 89 percent of sexual assault cases are fueled by drugs or alcohol, according to the Journal of American College Health. Additionally, the American Journal of Public Health found that two-thirds of women with a firearm in the home have had that weapon used against them by an intimate partner.

“It’s not fair, or safe, or realistic to expect college students to have a gun on them every time they drink,” Takeda said. “When we talk about arming victims, we’re also talking about arming perpetrators.”

As to the political influence of the National Rifle Association, Takeda noted the organization’s sway with both official and unofficial groups — including organizations like Students for Concealed Carry, which advocates for state-issued licenses to carry concealed handguns on campuses. Clements shared her interpretation of such an ideology.

“It creates a situation where fear of being a victim is more possible because more people are armed, more people have guns and it creates this idea in your mind where ‘everybody around me is armed, and I don’t know who’s a shooter and who’s not, so I might as well carry a gun too,’” Clements said.

Iannini said that universal background checks across the U.S. would deprive the NRA of revenue from firearms manufacturers who profit from legal gun purchases in lenient states before the weapons are resold on the black market elsewhere. If a U.S. citizen deliberately makes such a purchase with the intention of reselling to someone who isn’t legally entitled to own a gun, the transaction is considered a “straw purchase” and a federal crime.

“If you have universal background checks for all gun shows, for the Internet, for private sales, then those people are going to have to find other illegal avenues in the black market to get guns, and that’s potentially taking business away from the same manufacturers that are giving to the NRA,” Iannini said. “It’s literally blood money. There’s no other way to characterize it.”

Kelsey Knorp is currently participating in the UCDC program. While studying in Washington, D.C. for the fall quarter,  Kelsey has been serving as National Beat Reporter and writing on national issues and events.

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