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Local News

May 2, 2014

Students take shots at gun laws

After a debate attended by more than 120 college students Wednesday night, half of the attendees said they don’t believe restrictive gun laws are necessary in today’s society.

The question was asked at the first on-campus professor debate put on by the State University College at Oneonta Speech and Debate Team. The debate, titled “The Bearing of Arms: A Challenge and a Defense,” was held at 6:45 p.m. in one of the college’s lecture halls.

Three SUNY Oneonta professors and one adviser participated in the debate. Fida Mohammad, a sociology and criminal justice professor from Pakistan, and William Weinell, a local professor of Interdisciplinary Computing Skills, argued that restrictive gun laws are not necessary.

Achim Koeddermann, a philosophy professor, gave his pro-gun-control argument from Germany via Skype. Anne Burgin, coach of the Speech and Debate team, was present to give another argument supporting restrictive gun laws.

The audience was polled twice, once before the debate and once afterward, to determine whether any attitudes were changed during the debate. Students in the audience were asked: Are restrictive gun laws necessary in today’s society? At the beginning of the debate, more than 49 percent said yes, 35 percent said no and 25 percent were undecided.

During the first round of the debate, Mohammad showed multiple pictures of himself brandishing guns of all types and sizes in his native Pakistan, where there are no restrictive gun laws, he said. He argued that criminals don’t care about gun laws and therefore will not follow them, leaving innocent law-abiding individuals with no way to defend themselves against “the bad guys.”

Lawful gun ownership has no connection with random killing, Mohammad said. The weapon of choice used in rapes, one of the most under-reported crimes, is a knife, he said.

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